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

The content of a nuclear predication derives from the meaning of the predicate and the meaning(s) of the arguments belonging to the predicate which fulfil a particular semantic function with respect to that predicate. The predicate and its argument(s) together denote a certain situation or event. From now on I will use the label `state of affairs' instead of `situation' or `event' etc. The content above all depends on the meaning of the predicate. Depending on its meaning (or meanings), each predicate has one or more `predicate frames' determining the number of arguments and the semantic functions they may fulfil. In order for lexemes to fulfil a specific semantic function with respect to a predicate they must have specific semantic features. To put it differently, with each predicate and predicate frame certain selection restrictions are associated that specify which classes of lexemes can occur as argument(s) with that predicate. Thus the semantic function Agent can only be fulfilled by lexemes having the semantic feature `human being'. [14]

The interrelatedness of the meaning of the predicate and the arguments can be illustrated with the following examples:

(48) puer mature dentiit (`the boy cut teeth early')

(49) puer sibilabat (`the boy was hissing')

(50) ventus sibilabat (`the wind was hissing')

Dentire differs from sibilare in so far as the boy's getting or not getting teeth does not depend on any active involvement of the person referred to by puer: puer has no `control' over its taking place. With sibilare, however, puer has control as to (or can control) whether the action takes place or not. As a consequence, `the boy' in (48) cannot be interpreted as an Agent whereas this is perfectly possible in (49). In (50), again, ventus cannot be interpreted as the

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Agent, because the wind cannot control somebody or something. The semantic function Agent is reserved for human beings. Ventus can better be interpreted as Cause. The predicate sibilare allows both an Agent and a Cause, apparently.

We now turn to the various types of predications that can be distinguished. Following Dik (1989: ch. 4) I distinguish four types, based on the presence or absence of two properties, viz. `control' and `dynamism'. I will now discuss these two properties in some detail. A more detailed classification will be offered in chapter 11. [15]

(a) The notion `control'

The discussion of examples (48) and (49) in the previous section has shown that some actions or situations are called `controllable', if a person is capable of bringing about or not bringing about the action or situation. The predicate sibilare (`to hiss'), for example, is controllable, dentire (`to cut teeth') is not. It follows that someone can be asked or ordered to do something he or she is capable of bringing about. Someone can also undertake or promise to do something or not to do something. When someone has control over a certain action or situation, an imperative verb form can be used to ask that person to take care of it, given the fact that he or she is capable of doing it. The imperative verb form, however, is not feasible, if it cannot reasonably be expected that a person is capable of bringing about the event or situation desired. Consider the following examples:

(51) John, come here!

(52) *John, fall asleep [16]

A similar restriction holds for predicates governed by specific predicate types (see crosssection 7.1.2. on p. 100). Latin examples which illustrate this point are:

(53) Is (Orgetorix) sibi legationem ad civitates suscepit. In eo itinere persuadet Castico … ut regnum in civitate sua occuparet quod pater ante habuerat (`he took upon himself an embassy to the community. In the course of his travels he persuaded Casticus to seize in his own state the kingship which his father had held before', Caes. Gal. 1.3.3)

(54) *persuadet Castico ut regnum haberet (`he persuades Casticus to possess the kingship')

Examples (49) and (50) show that the fact alone that the predicate sibilare is controlled does not imply that the nuclear predication as a whole is controlled as well. [17] In order for this to be the case, an Agent is required who really controls the state of affairs. The distinction between `controllable' and `non-controllable' states of affairs can be established quite easily with the help of the imperative verb form test or a test by which a predication is made dependent on a predicate of `ordering' (that is, by creating an embedded clause with a

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predicate of ordering, or checking whether instances of this are attested). The distinction between controlled and non-controlled nuclear predications appears to be useful from another point of view as well, viz. to assess the possibility of combining such predications with specific satellites. The so-called Dativus commodi, for example, occurs only with controlled nuclear predications. We will turn to this in chapter 3.

(b) Dynamic/non-dynamic

Example (48) contains the description of a change in the boy's physical condition:

(48) puer mature dentiit (`the boy cut teeth early')

The boy originally had no teeth. Dentiit indicates that this toothless stage gradually came to an end and was followed by one in which the boy had a set of teeth. In (55):

(55) puer mature dentes habebat (`the boy had his teeth early')

it is not the process of teething that is described, but rather the final result of this process, that is, the state a person is in who has a set of teeth. I will call dentire `dynamic' (a process under way), dentes habere non-dynamic (a state). Just as in the case of control, this distinction is important for the types of satellites that may be added to a nuclear predication. Non-dynamic nuclear predications may be expanded with satellites that denote duration (e.g. (56)), while with dynamic nuclear predications this is not always possible, e.g. (57):

(56) duodequadraginta annos tyrannus Syracusanorum fuit Dionysius, cum … (`for thirty-eight years Dionysius was tyrant of Syracuse', Cic. Tusc. 5.57)

(57) *tres menses opus perfecit (*`he finished the work for three months')

Dynamic nuclear predications, on the other hand, may be expanded with satellites indicating the time consumed in bringing about the change (`time within which'), as in (58):

(58) ipse … Tarraconem paucis diebus pervenit (`he arrives at Tarraco in a few days', Caes. Civ. 2.21.4)

(59) tribus mensibus opus perfecit (`he finished the work in three months')

More will be said about the distinction `dynamic'/`non-dynamic' in crosssection 11.1.1. on p. 214.

Along the two parameters of control and dynamism nuclear predications can be organized into four types of states of affairs, as is shown in figure 2.1. Latin examples which have already been noted are: for Action (42), Position (44), Process (46) and State (56).

Figure 2.1: Typology of states of affairs

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Many languages possess morpho-semantic means by which the same predicate can be used in more than one state of affairs. Voice (in Latin: active/passive variation) is such a means. Quite often passive sentences are regarded as no more than counterparts of the active sentences in which basically the same semantic relations exist between the arguments and the predicate:

(60) pater filium laudat (`the father is praising his son')

(61) filius a patre laudatur (`the son is being praised by his father')

In examples like these the `counterpart' description seems adequate. Both sentences describe the action of praising, though each from a different perspective. However, such examples only illustrate part of the problem at hand. We have already seen (p. 9) that more often than not a constituent denoting the Agent is absent. Quite frequently no Agent is presupposed either, as in (62):

(62) Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres (`Gaul is a whole divided into three parts', Caes. Gal. 1.1.1)

The sentence describes the state Gaul is in and no action by some Agent is implied. (Some people might even prefer to regard divisa as a (stative) adjective.) Furthermore, the passive also occurs with verbs that have no Object, like itur (`they go'), acriter pugnatum est (`they fought fiercely'), the so-called impersonal use of the passive. The passive can be considered a means to leave the Agent out of account, or, more generally speaking, a means to reduce the number of arguments of a predicate. [18]

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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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