Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
Previous Sub2Sect

Next Sub2Sect

7.5.2 Copula + adjective + supine

Above (p. 106) I have treated (13e) as an instance as an example of an embedded predication, together with the impersonal constructions.

(13e) difficile est hoc genus exornationis inventu

This is because here, too, difficilis is not predicated of the entity genus exornationis but of the state of affairs invenire genus exornationis. This may be represented as in figure 7.2.

Figure 7.2

This figure indicates that the Object constituent [66] of invenire is promoted to Subject of the main predicate. A parallel is the following instance, much discussed in transformational grammar:

(115a) John is easy to please

(115b) It is easy to please John

The construction of adjective and supine (in -u) [67] is found with the following classes of adjectives (see K.–St. I. 724):

(a) (i) physical characteristics, e.g. asper (`rough'), foedus (`ugly'), pulcher (`beautiful');

(ii) value judgments, e.g. crudelis (`cruel'), honestus (`honourable'), turpis (`shameful');

(b) adjectives meaning `difficult', `easy', `possible', e.g. difficilis (`difficult'), facilis (`easy'), incredibilis (`unbelievable'), mirabilis (`surprising').

-- 137 --

Among the instances mentioned in the literature there are relatively few cases in which the copula esse is present. Most of the instances occur on the noun phrase level. Especially in poetry the use of adjective + supine on the noun phrase level is productive (in particular with dictu). [68]

For a number of adjectives, especially those of class (a), the treatment given above for difficilis is not satisfactory. Thus, (116a) is not synonymous with (116b):

(116a) o rem … visu foedam (`A matter, terrible to see', Cic. Phil. 2.63) [69]

(116b) foedum est istam rem videre

What is terrible is not seeing the matter, but the matter itself. To my mind, of (117a–b) it is slightly less evident that the two expressions are not interchangeable:

(117a) omnia praeteribo quae mihi turpia dictu videbuntur (`I will leave aside all those things that seem to me shameful to say', Cic. Ver. 1.32)

(117b) turpe mihi videtur ista omnia dicere

The facts are shameful, but speaking about them need not necessarily be shameful. In view of the fact that it is difficult generally to apply the description given for difficilis one might consider not to treat the construction copula + adjective + supine in terms of embedded predications, but to regard adjective + supine as a complex unit. [70]

Previous Sub2Sect

Next Sub2Sect


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