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The Subjunctive in indirect questions

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The Subjunctive in indirect questions

Postby Episcopus » Wed Dec 17, 2003 1:49 pm

I understand that interrogative words need to go in there, or num for a yes or no question, but are there any other constructions that I should watch out for? I was reading A&G today talking about infinitives in rhetorical questions. Basically this needs an expert to answer in English that I may understand. It was really strange, A&G had loads of pages on indirect speech, most of which I did not understand. There were also verbs changed from indicative to subjunctive showing the speaker to be "claiming" something. Difficillimum.

Anyway, to end, what are all (or at least most) of the question words that introduce subordinates with verbs in subjunctive? Bear in mind that somehow I don't know "how many", "when" etc.

:D
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Postby whiteoctave » Wed Dec 17, 2003 4:15 pm

Well, it should be said, first of all, that in Latin the verb in an indirect question is invariably in the subjunctive mood. This use of the subjunctive simply indicates the subordination of the questioning clause and has no distinct meaning.

The only issue you raise that seems to need explanation is when, in certain adjectival or adverbial clauses (not indirect questions), the subjunctive is used instead of the indicative. Such a construction is known as virtual oratio obliqua and is used when there is no specific verb of 'saying' in the passage yet the context clearly demands it.
This substitution of the indicative for the subjunctive shows the writer representing the reported statement of someone else, as opposed to his own.
For instance:

supplicatio decreta est, quod Italiam bello liberassem. A thanksgiving was decreed because (as they said) I had saved Italy from war.

It is necessary to add in a phrase such as "as he said" whenever one spots VOO. Such a construction is often used when the speaker wants to devolve responsibility from himself and place it on, perhaps, the accusers. e.g.

Socrates accusatus est quod corrumperet iuvuntatem.
Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth (so the accusers said).
The use of 'corrumpebat' would imply that the writer agreed with the given charge.

The reverse of this can exist, too, such as in a subordinate qui-clause which, as you know, would generally be in the subjunctive in oratio obliqua, the writer can use the indicative mood to show that what is said there is his view, not that which was reported, and it is thus almost an aside.

So that's that.
All question words introduce verbs, when in indirect questions, in the subjunctive mood. The forms of interrogative particles do not change between direct and indirect questions, except that num when used indirectly does not imply a negative answer and nonne can only be used after quaero.
Surely you know words like quantus, qualis, quotiens, quam, quo, qui...etc?

~dave
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Postby Episcopus » Wed Dec 17, 2003 4:42 pm

Thankyou for the admirable and extremely helpful reply! It confirms suspicions that English translations from Latin are as always quite sensitive
to indicative/subjunctive changes.

Ashamedly somehow I have only come across a few question words in the course that I follow although I am far past the Gerund etc. :shock:
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Postby Nexus Ferocis » Thu Dec 18, 2003 5:11 am

Wow! This will come in handy. I wish Wheelock explaned the subjunctive more, because I still have trouble with the subjunctive and probably will always.
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Postby benissimus » Thu Dec 18, 2003 7:31 am

Yes, I liked that description. It seems like a logical enough concept. Can someone explain when -ne is used in indirect questions? I have seen it only once and I didn't really ask about it.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Dec 18, 2003 3:15 pm

haha sugis!

Eratne benissimus anaticula?

Quaerit num benissimus anaticula esset.

-ne --> num
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Dec 18, 2003 3:16 pm

Oh yes by the way it means "whether".
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Postby benissimus » Fri Dec 19, 2003 7:52 am

I'm not a duckling :(
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby Episcopus » Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:04 pm

Nonne existimatis me superavisse benissimum? Tamen ut anaticula ab Episcopo superetur non difficile est. :lol: :lol:
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Postby benissimus » Fri Dec 19, 2003 6:35 pm

Nunquam tanta superbia vincar.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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