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Infinitive as Mood

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Infinitive as Mood

Postby Antonius » Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:18 am

This is not specifically a Greek grammar question, I post it here because it came up in my Greek 102 class. There appears to be some difference of opinion among grammarians as to whether the infinitive is properly classed as a mood, and I was wondering if anyone here has some insight on this.

Smyth (355) lists the four "finite" moods (indicative, imperative, optative, and subjunctive) and then goes on to say that the infinitive is classed by some as a mood. Gildersleeve and Lodge's Latin Grammar, on the other hand, goes so far as to say that this classification is improper. I thought maybe the classification might depend on the language involved, but it sounds like the difference of opinion exists in both languages (if not more.)

So, what really is the definition of "mood" and how would that definition include the infinitive? Or is this just a convenient pidgeon hole?
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Postby benissimus » Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:40 am

I have heard some people argue for a participial mood as well. The definition of mood itself is rather vague. AHD defines it as
dictionary.com wrote:A set of verb forms or inflections used to indicate the speaker's attitude toward the factuality or likelihood of the action or condition expressed. In English the indicative mood is used to make factual statements, the subjunctive mood to indicate doubt or unlikelihood, and the imperative mood to express a command.

I suppose that the infinitive could be regarded differently depending on the language, so it may be harder to pin down its role (or non-role) as a mood.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby chad » Wed Apr 13, 2005 4:00 am

my response won't be sophisticated grammatically but i don't think the infinitive is a mood. i think of moods simply: if you have a really simple clause, e.g. a finite indic. verb and an object say, you can change the force of the clause merely by changing the spelling of the verb so that it's subjunc/opt/imperat (adding any necessary mood particles like a)/n of course).

you can't just change the verb into infinitive however unless it's acting as a type of imperative (or some other more complex type of clause which i don't know about).
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Postby cweb255 » Wed Apr 13, 2005 2:58 pm

Can an infinitive conjugate? I mean, even imperatives can conjugate (defective, nonetheless). I think that should be the defining characteristic for mood. Just my opinion, though.
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Postby Thucydides » Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:32 pm

Well there's the philological angle, from which I *think* that only the indicative, subjunctive and optative count. I think the imperative is originally just the basic stem in the e-grade (lu-e). Not sure about the infinitive.

In a strict sense I think mood refers to the reality or otherwise of the verb. So indicative is certainty and optative and subjunctive have hints of irreality. By this definition infinitives I would say have no mood at all. You could perhaps call the imperative a mood of "not happening at the moment but should be" or something. I don't think participles have any modal status though.
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Postby luigi_pirex » Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:30 pm

cweb255 wrote:Can an infinitive conjugate? I mean, even imperatives can conjugate (defective, nonetheless). I think that should be the defining characteristic for mood. Just my opinion, though.


Curiously, Portuguese Infinitive *can* conjugate, I think it's a particular case among Latin-derived languages. So, from the Latin amo,as,are... we have in Portuguese:

-the 'impersonal' infinitive: amar

and

-the 'personal' infinitive: eu amar
tu amares
ele amar
nós amarmos
vós amardes
eles amarem
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Postby Thucydides » Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:36 pm

Hmm. This reminds me that the question is always clouded by suspicious terminology.
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Postby yadfothgildloc » Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:36 am

cweb255 wrote:Can an infinitive conjugate? I mean, even imperatives can conjugate (defective, nonetheless). I think that should be the defining characteristic for mood. Just my opinion, though.


Yes, in Greek they can take an article, but then they're considered nouns. They do something similar in Latin, but don't take an article (obviously).

Of course, I always learned them as really strange nouns anyway.
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Postby cweb255 » Thu Apr 14, 2005 5:58 am

How do you translate a conjugating infinitive? Wouldn't that lose its infinity?
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Postby Thucydides » Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:40 am

Terminology is hopelessly misleading. The Latin Ablative is often an instrumental; the Greek genitive often an ablative. The Homeric 'perfect' is neither past nor perfective - it is stative.

Just because something's called an infinitive doesn't necessarily mean that it linguistically is. "to luein" is not an infinitive - it is a gerund.
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