Textkit Logo

Shifty infinitive tenses. argh

Here's where you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Moderator: thesaurus

Shifty infinitive tenses. argh

Postby 1%homeless » Fri Mar 26, 2004 10:36 pm

The rules don't really make much sense in indirect statements. There are three translations that don't make sense to me.

The present infinitive is supposed to be in the same time as the main verb, but in Wheelock's book, it seems to retain the present tense when the main verb is in the future tense.

Dicent eum iuvare eam.

If I follow the rule strictly, this sentence is supposed to be translated as: They will say that he will help her.

But of course Wheelock puts the infinitive in the present tense:
They will say that he is helping her.

Also, the perfect infinitive is weird with the main verb in the future tense.

Dicent eum iuvisse eam.
They will say that he helped her.

My translation: They will say that he is helping her.

Again quoting Wheelock's book: "the perfect infinitive indicates time before that of the main verb (=prior infinitive.)"

I thought the present tense is before the future tense and not the perfect tense? Now we're skipping tenses?

I think this is the last main verb + infinitive combo that doesn't make sense:

Dixerunt eum iuturum esse eam.
They said that he would help her.

My translation: They said that he is helping her.

The tense after the perfect is present tense right? Again, we seem to skip tenses with the future infinitive, but of course when the main verb is in the present tense, it doesn't skip tenses...???? :roll: :?
User avatar
1%homeless
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 440
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2003 6:21 am
Location: East Hollywood

Postby klewlis » Fri Mar 26, 2004 10:47 pm

let's see if I can explain this.

It's not simply a matter of picking the "next" or "previous" tense.

You have to look at it from the point of view of the main verb. So:

Dicent eum iuvare eam.
They will say that he is helping her at that time.

ie: at the time that they are saying it, he is helping her. that is future to us but to the main verb it is happening at the same time.

does that make sense?
User avatar
klewlis
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1573
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2003 1:48 pm
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: Shifty infinitive tenses. argh

Postby benissimus » Fri Mar 26, 2004 11:04 pm

1%homeless wrote:The rules don't really make much sense in indirect statements. There are three translations that don't make sense to me.

The present infinitive is supposed to be in the same time as the main verb, but in Wheelock's book, it seems to retain the present tense when the main verb is in the future tense.

I can see where your confusion is.

Dicent eum iuvare eam.

If I follow the rule strictly, this sentence is supposed to be translated as: They will say that he will help her.

But of course Wheelock puts the infinitive in the present tense:
They will say that he is helping her.

"Same time infinitive" does not necessarily mean that you have to translate it in the same tense. In the sentence "They will say that he will help her", it sounds like they are going to help her in the future relative to their saying it. In the sentence "They will say that he is helping her", they don't mean he is helping her at the present, but at the time of saying it which is in the future. In English, when the main verb is in a certain tense and the relative verb is in the future, we usually "add" the tenses, and so future+future equals future in relation to future. It is usually best to translate the same-time (present) infinitives you encounter into English present tenses, but understand it means at the time of the main verb and not as the present "now".

Also, the perfect infinitive is weird with the main verb in the future tense.

Dicent eum iuvisse eam.
They will say that he helped her.

My translation: They will say that he is helping her.

Try putting your English into direct speech: They will say, "He is helping her". You can see that your translation into "is" is making the indirect speech same-time when it should be past. If it helps, just translate directly into English "They will say him to have helped her", and then you can smooth it out afterwards.

Again quoting Wheelock's book: "the perfect infinitive indicates time before that of the main verb (=prior infinitive.)"

I thought the present tense is before the future tense and not the perfect tense? Now we're skipping tenses?

The relative infinitives do not simply move the tense up or down the sequence of tenses; they express whether the speaker is addressing an action before, after, or during their own time; you must find the words that accurately express this in English. You seem to be worried too much about the formula for shifting the time, but it just means that what is being said (felt, seen, judged, etc) will occur before, during, or after the actual saying of it - it does not necessarily mean that you will translate the relative tenses in the same way every time.

I think this is the last main verb + infinitive combo that doesn't make sense:

Dixerunt eum iuturum esse eam.
They said that he would help her.

My translation: They said that he is helping her.

Translate it indirectly: "They said him to be about to help her". "They said that he is helping her" places the "helping" in the present, which is a little bit further than a mere future in relation to past. If there is any confusion with the word "would", it is a past tense of "will", so really they translated it as "They said the he will (from their perspective) help her".

The tense after the perfect is present tense right? Again, we seem to skip tenses with the future infinitive, but of course when the main verb is in the present tense, it doesn't skip tenses...???? :roll: :?

This has proven more difficult to explain than I thought. It didn't really confuse me that much when we did it, but I am not sure I have succeeded in expressing my thoughts, because I can't quite put my finger on them.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
User avatar
benissimus
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2733
Joined: Mon May 12, 2003 4:32 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Postby Ulpianus » Fri Mar 26, 2004 11:53 pm

The trouble here is really that English makes changes that Latin does not. In English, we alter the tense of the original verb in reported speech:

He said, "I am helping her" => He said he was helping her

He said, "I have helped her" => He said he had helped her

He said, "I will help her" => He said he would help her

Latin doesn't:

He said, "I am helping her" => "He said he is helping her" (himself to be helping ...)

He said "I helped her" => "He said he helped her" (himself to have helped her)

He said "I will help her" => 'He said he will help her" (himself to be about to help her)

All this stuff about the time being "relative to the verb of saying" means only that one imagines whether when it was said the verb that is going into the infinitive would have been past, present or future. In English the tense of the verb in the reported speech varies depending on the tense of the verb reporting the speech. In Latin it does not.

Pity the poor Roman who had to learn the English rules for the sequence of tenses in reported speech.
Ulpianus
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: London, UK

Postby benissimus » Sat Mar 27, 2004 12:00 am

Ulpianus wrote:Pity the poor Roman who had to learn the English rules for the sequence of tenses in reported speech.

Pity him my big toe! Subjunctive of reported speech grumble grumble
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
User avatar
benissimus
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2733
Joined: Mon May 12, 2003 4:32 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Postby 1%homeless » Sat Mar 27, 2004 7:14 pm

Thanks y'all. I'll figure out this "tense relativity" thing some how.
User avatar
1%homeless
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 440
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2003 6:21 am
Location: East Hollywood

Postby Episcopus » Sat Mar 27, 2004 9:26 pm

A random "essent" etc. makes a reader initially think what the subjunctive be doing there. An author implying himself to perhaps be doubtful of that which has been said by another person. The author only knows why he puts the subjunctive there. Is it a deliberative? Is it jussive? Before I check each possibility to avoid ambiguity I throw the text away and write something instead. I only glance at texts, I am so impatient.

I prefer writing Latin. Ignore that slight rant :) I agree with benissimus.
User avatar
Episcopus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 2563
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2003 8:57 pm


Return to Learning Latin

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot] and 93 guests