Textkit Logo

conditional statements

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

conditional statements

Postby phoooiee » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:07 pm

Does anyone know why the contrary to fact present uses imperfect subjunctive rather than present subjunctive, and how this evolved?
phoooiee
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:26 pm

Re: conditional statements

Postby Qimmik » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:01 pm

Ask yourself why contrary to fact conditions in English use the preterite/pluperfect (and the fossilized "irrealis" form "were" for the 1st and 3rd person singular) rather than the present/preterite. And the Romance languages have a different way of marking contrary to fact conditions--there's a separate mood, the "conditional," which contrasts with both indicative and subjunctive, for the verb in the apodosis. There's no "reason" for contrary to fact constructions in English, Latin or any other languages--they're just part of the syntax of the individual languages.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1467
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: conditional statements

Postby mwh » Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:21 am

Qimmik, I'm (for the first time) disappointed in you. Can't you do better than "that's just the way it is"?
mwh
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 576
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: conditional statements

Postby Qimmik » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:52 pm

mwh, maybe there is some explanation buried in the deep structure of Latin, but even linguists who study these things, after about six decades of trying to answer questions like this, don't agree on the underlying logic of language structures, if indeed there is such a thing. Why are some languages ergative? Why does English exhibit gender only in third-person pronouns? I firmly believe that the use of the imperfect/pluperfect subjunctive in Latin contrary-to-fact conditions fall into the same category of questions. Why does Greek use imperfect/aorist indicative with a particle in the apodosis for the same type of conditions? Russian also uses the past tense with a particle in the apodosis, but doesn't distinguish between present and past contrary-to-fact conditions. Why? I don't have an answer for any of these questions; do you?
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1467
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: conditional statements

Postby cb » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:20 pm

hi, the history of how this may have developed (and why there was in particular a move to the imperfect, whereas the present had been used previously - the present left an ambiguity which the imperfect removed...) is discussed in woodcock, new latin syntax, s197 (pg 153) and following: http://books.google.fr/books?id=WmT6mS5v4dAC&pg=PA153

cheers, chad
cb
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:52 pm

Re: conditional statements

Postby mwh » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:28 pm

Many thanks for the responses. I was about to venture something on the same lines as chad now provides us with, for what seems to need explanation is why impf not present subj is used. But the true answer to Qimmik's final question would of course have to be No.

Among Qimmik's questions is "Why does Greek use imperfect/aorist indicative with a particle in the apodosis for the same type of conditions?" I don't quite understand what's meant here.

Incidentally, isn't only an "if" clause a conditional clause, properly speaking? Its presence or absence makes no difference to the main clause. Any main clause may or may be attended by a conditional clause just as it may or may not be attended by any other kind of subordinate clause, without the verb of the main clause being affected, no? Or is that too sweeping?
mwh
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 576
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: conditional statements

Postby cb » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:36 am

hi, for your question on the greek, see sidgwick's 3rd type of conditional on pgs 9 and 10 of his prose comp book (in particular observation (c) on pg 10 - ἄν used in the then-clause), and note how the imperfect is used for present counterfactuals and aorist for past:

https://archive.org/stream/introduction ... 8/mode/2up

cheers, chad
cb
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:52 pm

Re: conditional statements

Postby mwh » Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:17 pm

Thanks chad. I know how these things work, I'd just misconstrued what Qimmik meant.
mwh
Textkit Enthusiast
 
Posts: 576
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am


Return to Learning Latin

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: swtwentyman and 73 guests