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Deponent Verb Question

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Deponent Verb Question

Postby katzenjammer » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:02 pm

So, as my Greek is more advanced than my Latin, I'm somewhat familiar with Deponent verb forms; this passage, however, has me a bit confused and wonder if someone might help clarify it.

So, overall, putting aside semi-deponents and exceptions/complexities and whatnot, deponents are verbs that 1. have no active forms and 2. no passive meanings. This is another way of saying that they only have 1. active meanings and 2. passive forms.

So far, so good.

So then there was this passage: "The last principle part is conventionally given with sum, showing the perfect indicative form. Without sum, this is of course the perfect participle, which has an active meaning."

But the Perfect Participle IS passive in meaning. There is no active perfect participle.

Can someone clarify this?
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby katzenjammer » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:12 pm

Another related question:

Third Declension, "natus sum" - be born.

Isn't that^ a passive meaning, lol? Con...fuse..ed.
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby Nesrad » Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:32 pm

katzenjammer wrote:Another related question:

Third Declension, "natus sum" - be born.

Isn't that^ a passive meaning, lol? Con...fuse..ed.


The deponent thing is needlessly confusing. It's better to think of such verbs as not having an active form because to the Roman mind they were only used passively or something like the middle voice. Thus, we could theoretically have a verb like nasco, but since people never give birth to themselves, there's no need for an active form. Sometimes the Roman idiom differs from the English. For example, mentior might be thought of as "to make one's self a liar" instead of "to lie".
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby mwh » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:22 pm

So then there was this passage: "The last principle part is conventionally given with sum, showing the perfect indicative form. Without sum, this is of course the perfect participle, which has an active meaning."
Is this about the principal parts of deponents? If so—and only if so—it’s correct (e.g. locutus “having spoken”). But it’s not well stated. What’s the source?

As for natus, you can think of it as passive in both form and meaning, without an active. But it’s better to think of nascor as middle—much like γίγνομαι, in fact (which is actually the same verb).
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:03 pm

The simple formula to remember deponents in Latin:

"Passive in form, but active in meaning." This explains pretty much everything about it.

It's why there are only three principal parts, the present passive first person singular, the present passive infinitive, and the first person singular perfect passive. There is no perfect active, so only three principal parts.

Since the passive forms are translated as though active, forms such as abritrātus (from arbitror, arbitrarī, arbitrātus sum) are translated as though they are active, "having thought." These verbs can also take direct objects, although several of them, such as fruor and ūtor take predicate ablatives where their English equivalents take direct objects.

There are three exceptions to the "passive in form" rule:

1) Deponents have a present active participle..., arbitrans.
2) a future active participle, arbitrātūrus...
3) and a future active infinitive, arbitrātūrus esse.

I remember asking my high school Latin teacher if that meant these forms had a passive meaning. Her answer was "Logical, but no."

Note: MWH is correct in pointing out that these often have a "middle" sense in that subject affectedness is semantically encoded. What this means is that the action of the verb is often in the interest of the subject in a direct sort of way. Historically it's a likely bet that these verbs or their ancestors were middle deponents before the morphological distinction was lost in Latin.
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby katzenjammer » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:46 pm

Nesrad wrote:
katzenjammer wrote:Another related question:

Third Declension, "natus sum" - be born.

Isn't that^ a passive meaning, lol? Con...fuse..ed.


The deponent thing is needlessly confusing. It's better to think of such verbs as not having an active form because to the Roman mind they were only used passively or something like the middle voice. Thus, we could theoretically have a verb like nasco, but since people never give birth to themselves, there's no need for an active form. Sometimes the Roman idiom differs from the English. For example, mentior might be thought of as "to make one's self a liar" instead of "to lie".


Okay, "something like the middle voice" - that makes sense.

Thanks! :)
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby katzenjammer » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:51 pm

mwh wrote:
So then there was this passage: "The last principle part is conventionally given with sum, showing the perfect indicative form. Without sum, this is of course the perfect participle, which has an active meaning."
Is this about the principal parts of deponents? If so—and only if so—it’s correct (e.g. locutus “having spoken”). But it’s not well stated. What’s the source?


Yes, that passage is about the 4th principle part.

Maybe I'm confused but my undestanding is: the 4th principle part, the "perfect participle", is passive in meaning; there is no active perfect participle. Indeed, afaik, the 4th principle part IS the Perfect Passive Participle.

Where am I going wrong?

It's from Collins' A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin, p. 162.

As for natus, you can think of it as passive in both form and meaning, without an active. But it’s better to think of nascor as middle—much like γίγνομαι, in fact (which is actually the same verb).


Very interesting, that helps very much indeed! :D

Thanks!
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby katzenjammer » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:58 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:The simple formula to remember deponents in Latin:

"Passive in form, but active in meaning." This explains pretty much everything about it.

It's why there are only three principal parts, the present passive first person singular, the present passive infinitive, and the first person singular perfect passive. There is no perfect active, so only three principal parts.

Since the passive forms are translated as though active, forms such as abritrātus (from arbitror, arbitrarī, arbitrātus sum) are translated as though they are active, "having thought." These verbs can also take direct objects, although several of them, such as fruor and ūtor take predicate ablatives where their English equivalents take direct objects.

There are three exceptions to the "passive in form" rule:

1) Deponents have a present active participle..., arbitrans.
2) a future active participle, arbitrātūrus...
3) and a future active infinitive, arbitrātūrus esse.

I remember asking my high school Latin teacher if that meant these forms had a passive meaning. Her answer was "Logical, but no."

Note: MWH is correct in pointing out that these often have a "middle" sense in that subject affectedness is semantically encoded. What this means is that the action of the verb is often in the interest of the subject in a direct sort of way. Historically it's a likely bet that these verbs or their ancestors were middle deponents before the morphological distinction was lost in Latin.


Thank you for that excellent explanation! :D

It makes perfect sense to me excepting one key thing: when you say "the first person singular perfect passive", I assume you mean the compound tense: say, "miratus sum"

But here^ is where I must be confused about something. "Miratus" to begin with is a Perfect Passive Participle, no? So why the necessity of the compound tense in the 4th principle part?

I must be hopelessly confused about something, lol. :lol:

Please advise before I go mad!!! :D
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby mwh » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:44 pm

Seems there are two things still confusing you. To rephrase your questions:

(1) Why is the perfect passive said to be active in meaning? I suggested the answer in my post: I assume the book is referring to deponents, in which perf.pass. forms have active meaning not passive (miratus, locutus, etc.). Since you understand basically how deponents work, you shouldn’t find this a problem.

(2) Why is sum added in the 4th (more accurately 3rd) principal part of deponents? Because principal parts are complete verb forms (finite or infinitive), not participles. This is just a convention, as is giving the present and perfect in the first person singular indicative.

Incidentally, note that they’re principal parts, i.e. main parts, not principle parts. If you know the principal parts, you should (in principle!) be able to form every other part of the verb.
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:02 pm

katzenjammer wrote:Thank you for that excellent explanation! :D

It makes perfect sense to me excepting one key thing: when you say "the first person singular perfect passive", I assume you mean the compound tense: say, "miratus sum"

But here^ is where I must be confused about something. "Miratus" to begin with is a Perfect Passive Participle, no? So why the necessity of the compound tense in the 4th principle part?

I must be hopelessly confused about something, lol. :lol:

Please advise before I go mad!!! :D


While it might be fun to watch you go mad... :lol: :shock:


The way of forming the perfect passive tenses (perfect, pluperfect, future perfect) in Latin is to use the perfect passive participle (PPP) + the appropriate form of the verb to be. For the indicative:

Perfect passive = PPP + present tense of to be, e.g., amātus sum...
Pluperfect passive = PPP + imperfect of to be, e.g., amātus eram...
Future Perfect = PPP + future of to be, e.g., amātus erō.

Now, remember the definition of a deponent? It forms the perfect passive in form tenses the same way the non-deponent verbs do, except that you translate them as the active. Non-deponent amātus sum "I have been loved/I was loved," vs. deponent abritrātus sum "I have thought/I thought."

Does that clear it up?
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby katzenjammer » Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:41 pm

All of your answers have been very helpful indeed. I think I needed to step back and re-conceive exactly what my question is (sometimes the hardest part.) Sorry I've been a bit confused; this is an attempt to piece together what I'm really asking :oops:

So, in studying deponents the author of A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin says this: "The last principAL ( :D ) part is conventionally given with sum, showing the perfect indicative form. Without sum, this is of course the perfect participle, which has an active meaning."

Which initially confused me. And I think I see why: if the 3rd/last principal part is given without sum, it would have an active meaning because it's a deponent - so why not simply use the perfect participle as the 3rd principal part of a deponent verb?

The PPP as the 3rd principal part of a deponent would be passive in form and active in meaning, just as a deponent would require. So again, why the sum?

Barry Hofstetter wrote:Since the passive forms are translated as though active, forms such as abritrātus (from arbitror, arbitrarī, arbitrātus sum) are translated as though they are active, "having thought."


So if abritrātus is a passive form translated as though active - why not: arbitror, arbitrarī, arbitrātus ?

mwh wrote:(2) Why is sum added in the 4th (more accurately 3rd) principal part of deponents? Because principal parts are complete verb forms (finite or infinitive), not participles. This is just a convention, as is giving the present and perfect in the first person singular indicative.


But the Perfect Passive Participle is the 4th principal part of non-deponent verbs - why the discrepancy?

If the Perfect Passive Participle in the context of a deponent verb has an active meaning, why not use it as the 3rd principal part of a deponent verb?

Thanks for your patience. :(
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby mwh » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:51 pm

Your question about “Why sum?”: It’s just a convention, as I explained. You’re right that the participle alone would do the job just as well.

Your question about 3rd/4th principal part: Since deponents have only 3 principal parts, the last one is the 3rd—or you can call it the 4th and say that it doesn’t have a 3rd. It’s all quite arbitrary. (What makes the 1st conjugation the 1st, or the 2nd declension the 2nd? They’re numbered for convenience, that’s all.)
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby katzenjammer » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:10 am

mwh wrote:Your question about “Why sum?”: It’s just a convention, as I explained. You’re right that the participle alone would do the job just as well.

Your question about 3rd/4th principal part: Since deponents have only 3 principal parts, the last one is the 3rd—or you can call it the 4th and say that it doesn’t have a 3rd. It’s all quite arbitrary. (What makes the 1st conjugation the 1st, or the 2nd declension the 2nd? They’re numbered for convenience, that’s all.)


Okay, thanks so very much indeed! :D
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:12 am

And just to note, beginning Latin books will do the 4th (3rd for deponents) principal part slightly differently. Some textbooks don't put the sum and only list the participle, making it more parallel to non-deponent verbs. Most textbooks use the masculine singular nominative for the 4th principal part, but a few use the neuter, and one textbook (Jenney's First Year Latin) uses the supine (which happens to be identical in form to the neuter nominative singular of the participle).

There is a sense, as MWH points out, that the traditional grammatical organization we use is arbitrary, but it does have roots going all the way back to ancient times, and nothing else seems to have caught on. I mean, we could name the conjugations. I suggest Lucy, Ricky, George and Gracie...
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Re: Deponent Verb Question

Postby mwh » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:33 pm

I Love Lucy, but the last thing we need is gendered conjugations! :D

But katzenjammer here’s a final thing to chew on, since you say you’re more advanced in Greek than Latin, and you know that Greek has middles. Despite what grammars and schoolteachers will tell you, Greek does not have deponents. Not all verbs have actives, that’s all.
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