Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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11.1.2 Tense

`Tense' is a `deictic' category, by which the state of affairs expressed by the predication is located in time. The state of affairs can either be related to the moment of writing or speaking, or to another moment known from context or situation. Thus, laudo as a rule means that the action of praising is contemporaneous with the moment of speaking (`I am (now) praising'), laudaveram that the praising was anterior to a moment that itself is anterior to the moment of speaking (`I had praised at a moment that precedes the present

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moment'). In other words, tense is a morpho-semantic category which allows the chronological ordering of events. Besides marking of the verb form, also lexical means can be used to indicate this chronological order of states of affairs, such as temporal adverbs (heri (`yesterday'), nunc (`now'), postea (`afterwards'), deinde (`then'))-in a number of languages the only possibility-or simply by the order in which the events are mentioned, e. g. (13):

(13) veni, vidi, vici (`(first) I came, (then) I saw and (after that) I conquered', Suet. Jul. 37)

In this chapter I only deal with tense as a verbal category.

In locating a certain state of affairs in time (and, thus, in choosing a verb form), the language user is as a rule bound by the actual chronological relation between events. This appears, for instance, from obvious impossibilities such as (14):

(14) *heri laudabo (*`Yesterday I shall praise')

On the other hand, it is not true that the language user has no choice at all. Thus, in Latin, as in English, the imperfect can be used also if there is no cogent temporal reason for this, e.g. example (15):

(15) sed si domi est, Demaenetum volebam (`But I wanted to see D., if he is at home', Pl. As. 452)

By locating his request in the past, the speaker in this example presents this request as less urgent or immediate, and thus as slightly more modest or polite. Tense can, therefore, to some extent be used, like the category mood, to express the attitude of the speaker. [8]

With the aid of the examples laudo and laudaveram I have shown that a specific tense can be related either to the moment of speaking (the `present' moment) or to another moment that itself is related to the moment of speaking. In some grammars the former (laudo) is called `absolute' use of the tense, the latter (laudaveram) `relative' use of the tense. In reality, both are relative, but the latter has, as it were, two stages. The Latin verb turns out to be construed systematically according to two dimensions:

(i) most verb forms contain information as to the chronological order (anterior, contemporaneous, posterior) of the predication [9] with regard to a past, present or future moment known from context or situation;

(ii) part of the verb forms, especially indicative forms, also contain information (apart from that mentioned in (i)) as to the location of the predication in time (past, present, future).

Note that in subjunctive forms only present and past are distinguished. They are left out of account here.

Examples of the two dimensions mentioned above are:

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(i) (a) Participles indicate whether the (embedded) predication expressed by them is anterior, contemporaneous or posterior with regard to another predication (as a rule the main predication): locutus/loquens/locuturus (`after speaking/while speaking/before speaking'). The participles do not indicate when the action in question occurred: in loquens abiit (`While speaking he left') the speaking occurred in the past; in loquens abibit (`while speaking he will leave') the speaking will occur at the future moment of leaving.

(b) In a similar way, infinitives indicate anteriority, contemporaneous|ness or posteriority of the predication with regard to the (main) predication: Cicero dicit Caesarem in senatu locutum esse/loqui/locuturum esse (`Cicero says that Caesar has spoken/is speaking/will speak in the senate').

(c) Finite verb forms of the perfectum stem as a rule [10] indicate that the predication has occurred before a moment known from context or situation, see above laudaveram and (16):

(16) rogo quid fecerit (`I ask what he has done')

N.B.: see also (ii) (a) below.

(d) Finite verb forms of the infectum stem indicate that the predication occurs contemporaneously with a moment known from context or situation, see above laudo and (17):

(17) rogavi quid faceret (`I asked what he was doing')

N.B.: see also (ii) (b) below.

(ii) (a) Perfect, pluperfect and future perfect locate a predication anterior to present, past and future, respectively. Caesar locutus erat (`Caesar had spoken') means that Caesar's speaking preceded a certain moment in the past.

(b) Present, imperfect and (simple) future locate a predication in present, past and future, respectively; on the basis of what was said under (i) (d) e.g. Caesar loquebatur means that at a certain moment in the past Caesar was speaking.

(c) The periphrastic forms locuturus sum/eram/ero offer a limited possibility to locate predications posterior to present, past and future, respectively.

Tables 11.1 and 11.2 offer a schematic representation of what has been remarked above. In a different form, table 11.2 returns in the discussion of Table 11.1 Non-finite verb forms (participles, infinitives)
locutus esseloquilocuturus esse

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Table 11.2 Finite verb forms (1st person singular indicative)
Location with regard to orientation moment
Orientation momentAnteriorContemporaneousPosterior
Presentlocutus sumloquorlocuturus sum
Pastlocutus eramloquebarlocuturus eram
Futurelocutus eroloquarlocuturus ero
Table 11.3 Sequence of tenses
Tense of main clauseTense of subordinate clause
Present Futureperfectpresentperiphrastic
(locuturus sim)
(locuturus essem)
the rules concerning the correspondence between the tenses of main and subordinate clauses in the subjunctive governed by them (the sequence of tenses (consecutio temporum)). See table 11.3. From table 11.2 it may be deduced that the system apparently contains some elements of redundancy. What is, for instance, the de facto difference between anterior to the present (locutus sum) and contemporaneous with the past (loquebar)? After all, both forms concern past events. Likewise: what is the difference between loquar and locuturus sum (two forms that in reality are not often distinguished, as has been pointed out above)? I return to this in crosssection 11.2. on p. 223 ff. [11]

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Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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