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Query on XXXIII, §196, II, Q 10.

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Query on XXXIII, §196, II, Q 10.

Postby sisyphus » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:17 am

Salvete,

The question from the text is "Did Cepheus obey the oracle?".

i'm confused about the tense. Had the question been worded "Had Cepheus obeyed the oracle?" i would have had no doubt it was the pluperfect.

Had the question been "Has Cepheus obeyed the oracle?" i would have been certain it was the perfect.

(In either case, of course, i could have been wrong :lol: )

The Textkit key translates it as the perfect ("paruitne").

Is the English sentence ambiguous ( :shock: ) or am i an eejit?

Cheers,

sis.
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Postby benissimus » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:21 am

"did ___" can be either perfect or imperfect, depending on whether you see it as a simple/punctual or continuous event (respectively).
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Postby sisyphus » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:29 am

Benissime,

Gosh, how quick was that? :o

benissimus wrote:"did ___" can be either perfect or imperfect, depending on whether you see it as a simple/punctual or continuous event (respectively).


OK, so more context would be needed to make a discrimination for this simple sentence. (i'm assuming you include pluperfect in "perfect".)

Thankyou.
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Postby benissimus » Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:01 am

sisyphus wrote:OK, so more context would be needed to make a discrimination for this simple sentence. (i'm assuming you include pluperfect in "perfect".)

No, unless otherwise stated, "perfect tense" means "present perfect". "Perfect system" would include pluperfect, present perfect, and future perfect. "did obey" can only be imperfect or present perfect, which makes sense since it is the past tense of "does obey", which is present.
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Postby sisyphus » Sat Aug 20, 2005 12:37 am

Benissime,

"did obey" can only be imperfect or present perfect


Really? It can't be pluperfect? How would it be phrased if it were pluperfect?

i still have problems distinguishing (in English) perfect and imperfect, i.e. whether a verb indicates a complete action.

For example, texts seem to indicate that the phrase "i worked" is imperfect, leaving open the possitility that i am still working. That is at odds with my use of English. i think my Standard English is quite good, but maybe i'm more influenced by dialect than i realise.

Cheers,
sis.
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Postby benissimus » Sat Aug 20, 2005 1:03 am

sisyphus wrote:Benissime,

"did obey" can only be imperfect or present perfect


Really? It can't be pluperfect? How would it be phrased if it were pluperfect?

Actually, I spoke too generally. There are some situations where what looks like a simple past tense in English would be better in Latin as a pluperfect. "He was angry because I slammed the door in his face" (imperfect in English, pluperfect in Latin) would be a good example, but that can just as easily be rewritten "He was angry because I had slammed the door in his face" (pluperfect in English and Latin). I think this is just a loosening of English grammar that allows us to say such things without a change of meaning.

i still have problems distinguishing (in English) perfect and imperfect, i.e. whether a verb indicates a complete action.

For example, texts seem to indicate that the phrase "i worked" is imperfect, leaving open the possitility that i am still working.

"I worked" is in English imperfect, whereas "I have worked" is the English perfect. The roles of Latin imperfect and perfect do not match up with those in English, so English imperfect can be either perfect or imperfect in Latin (English perfect can be translated with Latin perfect in any strict translation though).

"I worked" can be perfect or imperfect when translating it into Latin, depending on what you mean by it. It is very difficult to explain the difference between these two tenses through English examples, since even in a context you can often approach a verb from either angle. Continuous and habitual actions belong to the imperfect; simple and completed actions, as well as past actions seen as having an effect on the present (translated in English perfect with "have") are translated with perfect.

"used to ____" and "kept _____ing" are dead giveaways for imperfect, and "have/has ______(ed)" is a reliable indicator of perfect. I think experience with reading Latin will help clear this up, since it can take a context even larger than a single sentence to make the nature of an action clear.
Last edited by benissimus on Sun Aug 21, 2005 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby sisyphus » Sun Aug 21, 2005 12:32 am

Benissime,

Thanks for the extra explanations. They do help.

Odd, perhaps, that my understanding of Latin grammar in this area seems better than that of my English. As you point out (although you don't actually use these words), the English can be ambiguous.

Thanks again,

sis.
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Postby sisyphus » Sun Aug 21, 2005 1:16 am

Hang on, though.

"He was angry because I slammed the door in his face" and "He was angry because I had slammed the door in his face" are semantically different. In the first the anger and the slamming of the door are contemporaneous, ordered and separated only because of the causal. In the second the slamming may actually have happened at *any* time before the anger, separated by any length of time. It might have been just seconds, making it equivalent for all practical purposes to the first sentence. Alternatively it might have been days or weeks (or even months, though grudges can be taken too far).

So the first sentence cannot "just as easily be rewritten" as the second, because the two (English) sentences are *not* equivalent.

i *do* understand that Eng. "i worked" could be translated to L. perf. or imp., depending on context.

Comparing the Eng. "i worked" and "i have worked":

1) i *can* understand that "i worked" and "i have worked" are syntactically imperfect and perfect, whilst semantically they *could* be equivalent.

2) But if i expand them to sentences (e.g., "i worked for ten years" and "i have worked for ten years") then semantically i find the first to be perfect (complete) and the second to be imperfect (continuing), the opposite of your interpretation.
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