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

We have seen so far that nuclear predications can be described in various ways:

– quantitatively, according to the number of arguments that are required with a certain predicate. We have seen that one predicate can have more than one valency;

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– qualitatively, according to what kind of arguments can co-occur with a certain predicate, that is, according to predicate frames. We have already noted that many predicates have more than one predicate frame. Such a description might be in terms of the syntactic functions of the arguments (for example misereri (`to feel pity') is a two-place predicate with a predicate frame containing a SUBJECT + COMPLEMENT: pater filii miseretur – `the father feels pity for his son'). It might also be in terms of the semantic functions of the arguments.

In tables 2.1–2.3 I give a number of examples of nuclear predications. The examples provide information about the quantitative valency, the predicate frame and the syntactic function of each argument. Complications like passivization are left out of account. [19] Following Scherer (1975), I make a distinction between three groups of predications:

(i) `normal' nuclear predications with verbs that denote Actions, Processes, Positions and States.

(ii) nuclear predications with a copula and with verbs like putare (`to consider') and appellare (`to call').

(iii) so-called impersonal expressions.

A complete description of nuclear predications should contain more than the number of arguments and their syntactic functions. We might also expect information about the syntactic category of the arguments in their respective syntactic function (for example, that the Object constituent with dicere may be a noun, a pronoun, a clause (Accusative and Infinitive), etc. – see ch. 7). A third requirement relates to the semantic functions of the arguments. The fourth refers to the semantic category of the constituents (for example: `animate'/`inanimate').

N.B. The type of information mentioned above should also be available in a well-organized dictionary. However, this is not enough. Further important information would relate to:

– which satellites may be added to a nuclear predication (see crosssection 3.1. on p. 25)

– the relative frequency of possible meaning differences and predicate frames

– the historical development

– stylistic restrictions on the use of certain predicates or of certain predicate frames.

It is relatively easy to prove that mono- and bivalent predicates are indeed mono- and bivalent. 19a In the case of three-place predicates this is much more difficult. Subject and Object have a special position among arguments in that they are involved in passivization. [20] In our texts the predicates that have been classified as three-place are often accompanied by only two arguments, because the third argument can be retrieved from the preceding context. The argument marked by the accusative seems to be omitted less frequently than dative or ablative constituents.

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Table 2.1 Actions, Processes, Positions, States
SubjectObjectComplementComplementIndirect Object
suntqui dicant
suntbis septem nymphaemihia
utiturCicerobona valetudine
contenduntRomanicum Germanis
iubetCaesarpontem rescindic
commonefecitpatermemortis Caesaris
communicabistucuramcum illis
iussitCaesarmilitessuum adventum adspectarec
hortaturCaesarsuosne animo deficiant
docetmagistermelinguam Latinam
a Scherer (1975: 126) regards the so-called possessive dative as a satellite, as in: sunt mihi bis septem … nymphae ('I have twice seven nymphs' Verg. A. 1.71). The Oxford Latin Dictionary seems to be based on the same analysis. However, there is much to say for taking the dative as an argument in a two-place predicate frame, as is argued by Bolkestein (1983a: 79–81), Happ (1976: 497) and Lambertz (1982: 340). It is not easy to determine the semantic function of the dative constituent (`Experiencer'? See Bolkestein 1983a: 81–4).

[added 12-08: Garcia Hernandez (1992a,b) draws attention to the parallelism between aliquid est alicui and (ego) do aliquid alicui.
The dativus possessivus + esse + subject construction cannnot be exchanged for the habeo + acc. construction. In the classical period abstract subjects predominate in the dat. poss. construction, which are relatively infrequent in the other expression. In Plautine Latin, concrete subjects are normal. See Löfstedt (1963). The same goes for the replacement by ad-expressions.
The adnominal use of the possessive dative (instead of a genitive) is typical of Merovingian and Danubean Latin (Iliescu-Macarie 1964). It is especially present in Western Balkan Latin (Herman 1965). Its frequency can be explained bij the incertainty of the formation of genitive forms of local proper names in -o and -r. In the African documents in Diehl there seem to be no instances, neither of the use of the adnominal ad-expression (Gaeng 1992: 120, 123).
The dativus possessivus is directly related to the use of the dative with trivalent verbs, according to Herslund (1988: 293). He also relates the dativus auctoris to these two usages, instead of connecting this to the dativus commodi, as Ernout-Thomas do: - dat mihi librum - mihi est liber - mihi consilium captum iamdiu est]

b A passive counterpart can be found in Ov. Pont. 4. 12. 16 ridear (`I should be laughed').

c For the construction with iubere see also crosssection 7.4.3. (on p. 128).

d In this class of verbs governing a so-called double accusative it is not always easy to determine which constituent is omissible and which one becomes Subject in a passive sentence. The reason is that apart from a three-place predicate frame such verbs often also have a two-place predicate frame in which either the person or the thing may occur as Object. In the three-place frame of some verbs (for example docere `to teach') only the person can become Subject in the passive construction. With other verbs, for example flagitare (`to demand'), this is not entirely unambiguous:

– Petreius atque Afranius cum stipendium ab legionibus … flagitarentur (`when the legions were demanding their pay from P. and A.', Caes. Civ. 1.87.3; mss. flagitaretur)

– Consules … ut referrent flagitati sunt (`the consuls were appealed to to promote a measure', Cic. Red. Pop. 11)

– flagitabatur ab eis cotidie cum querelis bonorum omnium, tum etiam precibus senatus, ut meam causam susciperent (`they (the consuls) were daily importuned by the complaints of all patriotic men, even by the entreaties of the Senate, to take up my cause', Cic. Sest. 25).

Tables 2.2 and 2.3 contain verbs that belong to different classes, for example intransitive verbs like esse (copula), fieri and manere, transitive ones like habere and putare, and also causative verbs like efficere. Scherer calls

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sentences in which these verbs occur `Bestimmungssätzen' (`specifying sentences'). In such sentences the Subject constituent with esse etc. or the Object constituent are specified by a noun, an adjective or something comparable. The nuclear predications denote various states of affairs. In table 2.2 (esse, fieri, manere, etc.) we find nuclear predications which following our classification on p. 19 (see fig. 2.1) we would call Position (contentus esse), Process (fieri) and State (carus esse). The nuclear predications containing habere and putare denote Positions, those with facere and constituere Actions.

Table 2.2 Copula, etc.
Verbal PartSubject ComplementSubjectComplement
suntcapillo promissoBritanni
estnullius momentires
estin integroares
fietinsaniorille senex
sumnatusegoviginti annos

a Describing in integro and sic as a Subject Complement is not unproblematic. One might ask whether esse in this type of expression is a copula (see chapter 1, note 4). My description is supported by instances of coordination of adverbs with unambiguous Subject Complements, as in:

– quicquid natura tradit, et aequale omnibus est et statim (`whatever Nature communicates belongs equally to everyone and comes immediately', Sen. Ep. 121.20).

Table 2.3 Causative verbs, etc.
SubjectObjectObject Complement
habebatCiceroeumfidelem sibi
putavitMatiusidpro certo
cognoverant()eummagni animi/parato animo

a [modified 12-08] The English edition has as an example: facit Homerus Laertem agrum colentem. Parallels for this use of facere (= fingere) can be found in TLL s.v. 117.40 ff. Lambertz (1982: 375) regards it as a causative construction, to be compared with the infinitive construction in example (33e) on p. 111. He refers to Cic. Tusc. 5.115 Polyphemum Homerus cum immanem … finxisset, cum ariete … colloquentem facit eiusque laudare fortunas (`but Homer, having represented Polyphemus as a savage monster, depicts him also as conversing with a ram and congratulating it on its good fortune'). It seems better not to regard this use of facere as causative.

Table 2.4 `Impersonal' expressions
licitum est
fas est
licetme isto tanto bono uti
placuitcastra defendereexercitui

The so-called impersonal expressions (table 2.4) constitute a very heterogeneous class. 20a It contains both subjectless verbs like pluit (`it is raining') and concurritur (`they are running to the same spot') and verbs that only occur in the third person singular. Pluit, tonat and other meteorological verbs are treated as zero-place verbs in spite of poetical and popular etymological [21] expressions [add like Iove tonante (`when Jupiter is thundering', Cic. Phil. 5.7). I have two reasons for doing so: (a) we do not find obligatory Attributes with derived verbal nouns (nominalizations), as we do in, for example, amor patris (`the love of the father'); (b) we do not find this type of expression in the Accusative and Infinitive construction with molestum est (`it is annoying') and comparable expressions. This is always possible with one- and more-place verbs. [22]

We do not have sufficient information about the relative frequency of the various types of nuclear predications. From the data collected for the chapter on the case system (chapter 5) it appears that two-place predicates are much more frequent than three-place ones. They are also more frequent than one-place predicates.

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As to the lexical category of the arguments, it is clear that animate entities frequently appear in the syntactic function Subject, in particular in the case of two-place and three-place predicates. This can be interpreted as a reflex of the tendency of men to talk about how people are and what they do. [23]

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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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