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Subjunctive in Conditions (Present / Past Unreal)

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Subjunctive in Conditions (Present / Past Unreal)

Postby brookter » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:50 am

Salvēte Amīcī,

I'm using Lingva Latina: A College Companion, by Jeanne Marie Neumann to supplement LLPSI and in general I find it very useful (although there are a few minor typographical errors in it). I'm currently working through the review of Conditions (p241) and although I get the majority of it, there's one point I don't understand.

The text says that the Imperfect subjunctive represents the Present Unreal ("were... would") and gives the example
Sī iam hoc intellegerēs, certē patriam audīvissēs (i.e. Impf Subj / Plup Subj)

The translation given is "If you already understood this (but you clearly don’t), you certainly would be listening to your father (but you aren’t)"

The example for the Pluperfect Subjunctive (Past Unreal) is:
Sī iam tum hoc intellēxissēs, certē patrem audīvissēs (i.e. Plup Subj / Plup Subj)

with the translation "If you had already then understood this (but you clearly didn’t), you certainly would have listened to your father (but you didn’t)".

What I don't understand is why the pluperfect subjunctive is used in the second part of the first sentence (present unreal): why isn't it the imperfect subjunctive again, to show that the "not listening" is incomplete? Is the Pluperfect Subjunctive always used as the second part of present / past unreal constructions, regardless of completion / incompletion?

Many thanks

David
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Re: Subjunctive in Conditions (Present / Past Unreal)

Postby lauragibbs » Sun Mar 20, 2011 1:44 pm

David, it looks like there is just an error in the translation, that's all - but I am a bit hesitant to comment since I don't have a copy of the book at hand - for example, patriam means "country, homeland" - not father, so maybe there was just a total editorial meltdown for that particular sentence.

The imperfect subjunctive is used for present contrary to fact:
si me amares... "if you were feeling love for me (right now)" (but you are NOT)
si me amavisses... "if you had loved me (in the past)" (but you did NOT)

pecuniam mihi dares... "you would be giving me the money (right now)" (but you are NOT)
pecuniam mihi dedisses... "you would have given me the money (in the past)" (but you did NOT)

You can mix and match them all you want. English translation can get really ugly here because the English subjunctive, if you are the kind of person who uses the English subjunctive, is dangerously similar to the forms of the English past tense ("if you were..."). Latin is actually so much more clear here because the subjunctive is an essential part of Latin; the subjunctive in English is holding on very precariously.
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Re: Subjunctive in Conditions (Present / Past Unreal)

Postby brookter » Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:12 pm

Laura

Thanks for the response.

Patriam was sloppy copying on my part - just careless, sorry: it's right in the book.

So, if I've understood this correctly, it's not that the book is wrong grammatically to have "If (imperfect subjunctive) + then (pluperfect subj)", but that they've translated it wrongly. Both

Sī iam hoc intellegerēs, certē patriem audīvissēs

and

Sī iam hoc intellegerēs, certē patriem audīrēs

are grammatically correct, but mean different things: "...listened in the past" / "...listening now"

It did seem a bit strange, and there are a small number of places where there are what seem to be clear errors (e.g. 2nd person plural of audīre = audīitis) so I thought I'd check.

Many thanks

David
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Re: Subjunctive in Conditions (Present / Past Unreal)

Postby lauragibbs » Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:38 pm

I am very sympathetic to the authors/editors of the book - I find translating to be a nightmarish activity - to me Latin and English feel so different from each other that writing out any kind of translation just makes me freeze up. I did one published volume of translations from Latin and Greek (the Oxford World's Classics of Aesop's fables which I did about 10 years ago), and I swore never again: I am just not a fan of translation, although I understand its uses. :-)
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Re: Subjunctive in Conditions (Present / Past Unreal)

Postby thesaurus » Sun Mar 20, 2011 5:39 pm

brookter wrote:Sī iam hoc intellegerēs, certē patrem audīvissēs (i.e. Impf Subj / Plup Subj)

The translation given is "If you already understood this (but you clearly don’t), you certainly would be listening to your father (but you aren’t)"


Just to reiterate, this is a perfectly legitimate mixed condition, but the translation of the second half of this sentence is mistaken. It should be "If you already understood this (but you clearly don't), you certainly would have listened to your father (but you didn't)." [I changed patriam to patrem]
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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