Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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6.6. The semantic structure of noun phrases; formal characteristics

In the preceding sections we have seen a wide variety of semantic relations between Attribute and Head constituent, sometimes comparable to

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semantic relations which are found on the sentence level. Some examples follow:

(5b) receptui signum: signum receptui dare: Purpose relation

(7a) digito tactio: tangere aliquem digito: Instrument relation (see p. 76)

(84a) capillo … muliebri vel nervo funes (`Ropes made of women's hair or of sinews&rsquo, Vitr. 10.11.2)

(84b) duplicem gemmis auroque coronam (`A double crown of gold and jewels', Verg. A. 1.655): corona auro caelata/ex auro confecta: Material relation (see K.–St. I.393–4)

In the examples given above the formal characteristics are the same as those on the sentence level. However, the most frequently used case form for marking an NP which is itself an Attribute with another noun or NP is – as we have seen in chapter 5 – the genitive. There may be widely divergent semantic relations between Head and Attribute, see (85)–(88). [38]


(85) statua Dianae (`A statue of Diana')

(86) statua Myronis (`A statue of Myron')

(87) statua Ciceronis (`A statue of Cicero')

(88) amor Ciceronis (`Love of/for Cicero')

Since we know that Diana is the name of a goddess, (85) will in principle be interpreted as `a statue representing the goddess Diana (of Diana)'. Example (86), on the other hand, since we know that Myro is the name of a famous Greek sculptor, will at first sight be interpreted as `a statue made by Myro (of Myro)'. In (87) one might rather be inclined to think of the possessor of a certain statue. Only if we know what in the extra-linguistic reality is referred to by the expression, can we determine the semantic relation between Head and Attribute.

In (85)–(87) we are dealing with a noun that has no semantic relation with a certain predicate. With a noun like statua an Attribute is not necessary. Amor in (88), on the other hand, is a two-place noun with which in principle, as with the verb amare, an Agent and a Patient are required. For both semantic functions the genitive is the normal case form. When only one Attribute is expressed, this may result in ambiguity, as is the case in (88). Cicero can be Agent as well as Patient. In the following example this ambiguity is no longer present, because Ciceronis is much more readily interpreted as Agent and patriae as Patient than the other way round:

(88') Ciceronis amor patriae (`Cicero's love for his country')

In the `normal' situation, indicated in (85)–(88), either there is no correspondence with constructions on the sentence level, or, where this is the

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case, as in (88), the formal characteristic (the case form) differs from the case form used on the sentence level. The two genitives in (88'), for instance, correspond to the nominative and the accusative, respectively, of the arguments with the Predicate in (89).


(89) Cicero amat patriam (`Cicero loves his country')

Remarkably, the opposition in case form (nominative: accusative) which we find in (89) is not present on the word group level. Generally speaking, we observe that with nouns of this type, which require one or more Attributes, the case form of the governed word is always, or can always be, the genitive, irrespective of the case form (s) which mark the arguments of the Predicate on the sentence level. See table 6.3.

Table 6.3
Sentence levelNoun phrase level
Nom. pater redit (in patriam) (`Father returns to his country&rsquo)reditus patris (in patriam) (`Father's return to his country&rsquo)
Acc. amare patriam (`to love one's country&rsquo)amor patriae (`love for one's country&rsquo)
Dat. favere filio (`to support one's son&rsquo)favor filiia (`support for one's son&rsquo)
Gen. oblivisci doloris (`to forget the pain')oblivio doloris (`forgetfulness of the pain')
Abl. uti virtute (`to use virtue')usus virtutis (`the use of virtue')
a For favor + so-called (objective) genitive see TLL. s.v. 385.4 ff.

On the other hand, semantic relations such as `Beneficiary' and `Instrument', which are fulfilled by satellites on the sentence level, are generally not marked by the genitive. The case form which would be used on the sentence level is also found on the word group level. There is, moreover, a semantic difference between, for example, digito tactio (7a) and digiti tactio. The latter means `touch of the finger' (finger: Patient). [39] Furthermore, the general statement made above, viz. that on the noun phrase level the genitive is the regular case form for those constituents which would be arguments in a similar construction on the sentence level, does not fully apply to constituents which on the sentence level would be arguments marked by a preposition. [40] Furthermore, the genitive seldom occurs as the counterpart on the word group level of the third argument of a three-place predicate. Compare, for instance, the noun deditio (`surrender'), with which both the person which executes the surrender and the thing/person surrendered can be formally marked by the genitive, while the third argument (the `Recipient') cannot. [41]

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The examples (90)–(91) involve NPs consisting of a noun and an Attribute which together function as an Attribute. The current term for this construction is genitivus and ablativus qualitatis.


(90) vir magni ingenii summaque prudentia (`A man of great talent and superior wisdom', Cic. Leg. 3.45)

(91) signa non maxima, verum eximia venustate (`Statues which were not very large, but of extraordinary beauty', Cic. Ver. 4.5)

In (91) the ablativus qualitatis is on a par with the adjective maxima. In (90), an exceptional instance, genitivus and ablativus qualitatis are coordinated. Much has been written on the question of whether the two expressions are synonymous. At any rate, not all types of lexeme occur in both cases, so that genitive and ablative are not entirely interchangeable. [42]

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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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