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Subject and Predicate: telling apart

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Subject and Predicate: telling apart

Postby gerases » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:53 pm

In the following sentence, how do we identify the subject and predicate?

aliud est īrācundum esse, aliud īrātum


Is the subject "aliud" or is it "īrācundum esse"?

In a related question, whenever there is est or any form of esse in a sentence, how do we identify the subject?

For example: a est b. Is "b" the subject or is it "a"?
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Re: Subject and Predicate: telling apart

Postby Craig_Thomas » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:57 am

I'm not sure there is any rule of word order we can use to determine subject from predicate. Most reasonably, and given the context, you take the old information as subject, and the new information as predicate, i.e., if the sentence were Augustus est princeps, you would take Augustus as subject if you have already been told something about him (but not that he is emperor), whereas you take princeps as subject if this is an announcement of who the emperor is.

But does it matter whether we translate that sentence as 'it is one thing to be irascible...' or as 'being irascible is one thing...' or whatever else we might come up with? Sum is a copulative verb because the subject and predicate are equivalent, and mistaking one for the other will usually not alter our understanding of what's being said, so we can happily resign ourselves to this ambiguity.

That said, I did recently came across a case where determining the subject is crucial to understanding the sense, in Martial XI.72: Drauci Natta sui vorat pipinnam / collatus cui gallus est Priapus, 'Natta gulps down the willy of his athlete, compared to whom -- a eunuch is Priapus? or Priapus is a eunuch?'
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Re: Subject and Predicate: telling apart

Postby gerases » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:09 am

Interesting about Martial.

The reason why I started worrying myself about subjects and predicates is because of infinitives. When I was reading about infinitives w/o subject accusative, Bennett says that when such an infinitive is used as the subject of a sentence:

... it may take a Predicate Noun or Adjective in the Accusative; as
aliud est īrācundum esse, aliud īrātum, it is one thing to be irascible, another to be angry


So I started thinking about Predicates and got myself completely confused. According to that definition, "esse" is the subject, "est aliud" the predicate and "iracundum" is the predicate adjective.

But doesn't a predicate adjective connect to the subject through a copulative verb which is "est" in this case? I.e., in my mind, it should not be right next to "esse", which is before the copulative verb. And yet, that's the only place it makes sense.

So where's what and why?
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Re: Subject and Predicate: telling apart

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:26 pm

It might help to say that iracundum esse is the subject, not just esse. They convey a single unified idea, just like homo iracundus. But, the difference between subject and predicate in sentences like this isn't very significant.
mihi iussa capessere fas est
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Re: Subject and Predicate: telling apart

Postby adrianus » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:00 pm

Unless a writer or talker is drunk, crazy or playing around, a sentence will make sense, and the tone of voice makes it clear. You imagine some rule that stops the adjective appearing beside the esse there. It doesn't exist. What confuses you is comparing "aliud est iracundum" with "aliud est iracundum esse". With time and use, you'll simply get used to recognising the distinct senses and give up believing there is a basis for confusion. Similarly in English, no one will be confused by "a eunuch is Priapus" for "Priapus is a eunuch" when they hear the first read with the emphasis on eunuch. Note that "iracundum" is accusative with "esse" not nominative and "aliud" is nominative in "aliud est iracundum esse" but "iracundum" is nominative in "aliud est iracundum",—not that it's obvious here.

Nisi adpotus vel delirus lascivusve locutor scriptorve, intellegibilis erit sententia, quam claram faciet vox. Regulam exstare credis quae prohibeat ut adjectivum juxtim vel ante esse verbum appareat. Non exstat talis regula. Fons confusionis tuae hoc: aliud est iracundum versùs aliud est iracundum esse. Per tempus et usum, utraeque formae assuesces. Eodem modo, clarus est sensus huius anglicè "a eunuch is Priapus" vi ad eunuchi verbum adfixâ. Alii verbum nominativo at accusativo casu iracundum cum esse verbo, nota, etiamsi abscondita hîc distinctio.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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