Possessive Adjectives

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blutoonwithcarrotandnail
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Possessive Adjectives

Post by blutoonwithcarrotandnail » Wed Apr 19, 2006 4:07 pm

Why is SUUS always reflexive and MEUS, TUUS, NOSTER, VESTER not? They
are all possessive adjectives.

libri tui = not reflexive
librum suum = this should be reflexive if i am correct

Thanks.

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Post by Mofmog » Wed Apr 19, 2006 4:16 pm

Do you mean se ?

As in bene se habet?

If so, it's because the nominative is taken by is ea id.

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Post by mraig » Wed Apr 19, 2006 4:24 pm

Mofmog: 'se' is a reflexive PRONOUN. suus -a -um is a reflexive possessive ADJECTIVE.

Blutoonwithcarrotandnail:

suus -a -um is, as you say, reflexive. That means that it 'reflects' the subject of the sentence; it shows that the subject of the sentence owns the noun being modified. If you want to say "his/her/its/their" and NOT reflect the subject of the sentence, use 'eius' or 'eorum/earum'.

EXAMPLES:

Cicero suam matrem amat: Cicero loves his (i.e. his own, reflecting the subject) mother.
Cicero eius matrem amat: Cicero loves his (i.e. someone else's, not reflecting the subject) mother.

But the other possessive pronouns, meus/tuus/noster/vester, do not have different forms depending on whether they reflect the subject of the sentence. If you want to say 'my', for example, you can always use the appropriate form of 'meus -a -um'

EXAMPLES:

meam matrem amo: I love my mother.
meam matrem Cicero amat: Cicero loves my mother.

blutoonwithcarrotandnail
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Post by blutoonwithcarrotandnail » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:18 pm

I still don't understand why MEUS, TUUS, NOSTER and VESTER are not reflexive and SUUS is.

He likes his book (this is reflexive) (SUUS)

They like their book (this is not reflexive) (VESTER)

What is so reflexive about it being 'he' or third person?

thanks.

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Post by Deudeditus » Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:14 pm

meus, tuus, noster and uester can all be reflexive, depending on the person of the verb.
meum gladium amo is the first person counterpart of suum gladium amat

suus is used in order to remove some ambiguity about who the owner is. there is generally no ambiguity when using first or second person adjectives.

Marc hits Jon. Jon sets his house on fire.
whose house did Jon burn? Marc's? More than likely, but if in latin we said
Marcus Iohannem pulsat. Iohannes casam suam flammat.
but..
Marcus me pulsat. Casam meam flammo. : this last sentence is inherently reflexive, with no need of a special form of the adjective which implies reflexivity.

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Post by Ulpianus » Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:49 pm

Really nicely put.

Just so everyone's clear ... when Iohannes casam suam flammat, our expectations are disappointed: the Latin makes it clear that things are not as we might expect, and John is a reflexo-arsonist, now looking for a new hut.

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Post by Mofmog » Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:44 am

blutoonwithcarrotandnail wrote:I still don't understand why MEUS, TUUS, NOSTER and VESTER are not reflexive and SUUS is.

He likes his book (this is reflexive) (SUUS)

They like their book (this is not reflexive) (VESTER)

What is so reflexive about it being 'he' or third person?

thanks.
Probably to reduce ambiguity?

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Post by Interaxus » Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:48 am

Hi,

I came across this link by chance:


http://experts.about.com/q/Latin-2145/S ... ntence.htm


Int

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Post by Deudeditus » Thu Apr 20, 2006 2:53 pm

nice link, Interaxe, lucky you found it. :D

-Jon

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Post by Interaxus » Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:09 am

Hi,

Pursuing that marvellous link I came across, I found this:

“Allobrogibus sese vel persuasuros, quod nondum bono animo in populum Romanum viderentur, existimabant vel vi coacturos ut per suos finis eos ire paterentur.?(Caesar, De Bello Gallico,I, 6):

“They (i.e. the Helvetians) believed that they would (should) either persuade the Allobroges, because they seemed not yet well disposed (lit. in a good mind) toward the Roman People, or that they would compel them by force to allow them to pass through their territories.?

An illuminating case of the use of 'suos', I thought.

Int

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Post by Ulpianus » Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:29 am

An illuminating case of the use of 'suos', I thought.
Is it? I'd have thought it has the extra complication of oratio obliqua, as a result of which (as a matter purely of grammar) it is not clear whether the territory is that of the Helvetians of the Allobroges ... though only the latter makes sense in context since the Helvetians would hardly need to persuade or force the Allobroges to let them pass through Helvetian territory.

But that is indeed a very useful link.

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Post by Interaxus » Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:01 am

Well, just for fun, I tried breaking up Caesar’s line as follows, and the indirect speech factor didn’t really seem to complicate matters that much:

[Helvetii] existimabant sese (The Helvetians believed themselves)
vel (either)
persuasuros Allobrogibus (going to persuade [‘to’] the Allobroges) (quod nondum bono animo in populum Romanum viderentur)
vel (or)
vi coacturos (eos/Allobroges) (by force going to compel them/the A.)
ut paterentur eos ire per suos fines.
(so that they [the Allobroges = SUBJECT of UT-clause] might allow them (eos = Helvetios = OBJECT of UT-clause) to go through their [referring back to SUBJECT of the UT-clause] territory)

Or, breaking up the two-pronged stratagem into separate militarily fail-safe options:

[Helvetii] existimabant sese
persuasuros Allobrogibus
ut paterentur eos (= Helvetios) ire per suos fines.

And should that fail …

[Helvetii] existimabant sese
vi coacturos (Allobroges [double accusative? - here, I confess I'm out of my depth])
ut paterentur eos (= Helvetios) ire per suos fines.

Diplomatic pressure, based on certain assumptions, followed by force. Sound familiar? But as we now know, that doesn't guarantee success. (Sorry to introduce extra-grammatical considerations. You'd hardly think I was a fan of Virgil …)

Int

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Post by Democritus » Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:24 am

blutoonwithcarrotandnail wrote:I still don't understand why MEUS, TUUS, NOSTER and VESTER are not reflexive and SUUS is.
Meus sometimes refers to the subject, but suus always refers to the subject. It doesn't have any other function.

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Post by Ulpianus » Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:48 am

ut paterentur eos ire per suos fines.
(so that they [the Allobroges = SUBJECT of UT-clause] might allow them (eos = Helvetios = OBJECT of UT-clause) to go through their [referring back to SUBJECT of the UT-clause] territory)
Yes. But suppose it had been the Helvetian's own territory that the Allobroges were going to let them through (imagine they are occupying it, or something like that). Wouldn't it still have been "suos"?

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Post by Interaxus » Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:11 pm

ut paterentur eos ire per suos fines.
(so that they [the Allobroges = SUBJECT of UT-clause] might allow them (eos = Helvetios = OBJECT of UT-clause) to go through their [referring back to SUBJECT of the UT-clause] territory)

Yes. But suppose it had been the Helvetian's own territory that the Allobroges were going to let them through (imagine they are occupying it, or something like that). Wouldn't it still have been "suos"?
Thanks for that mind-teaser, but why not the following?

... ut paterentur eos ire per eorum fines.

The point being that in this case the SUBJECT of the UT-clause, the Allobroges, will now be allowing the OBJECT (the Helvetians) free passage through their (the OBJECT’s) territory, that is, NOT THEIR OWN (the subject’s).

Logical?

I’ve been living in Sweden for many years and Swedish has a similar system to Latin (though not identical). It took ages to get used to that one too.

Of course, ambiguities do arise and an expert might prove me wrong in this matter.

Int

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Post by bellum paxque » Fri Apr 21, 2006 6:18 pm

I'm certainly no expert on the subtleties of the reflexive system in Latin, but I do recall reading that, in subjunctive clauses, a reflexive pronoun often refers to the subject of the main clause, not the subjunctive clause. Since it's an "often," not an "always," I think we're left with ambiguity.

David

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Post by Interaxus » Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:44 pm

Hi David,

Yes, you’re right, of course. I remembered having read that somewhere too and started checking through some books.

For example, Peter V. Jones in Reading Latin, p.540, has this to say:

Purpose (or final) clauses ‘in order to/that’, ‘to’

References in the purpose clause to the subject of the main verb are expressed by the reflexive, e.g.

Caesar venit ut milites se viderent ‘Caesar arrived so that his soldiers should see him /i.e. Caesar)’.


Unfortunately, such examples are usually much simpler than the ones we’ve been struggling with.

Anyway, so much for (my) ‘logic’! :oops: I guess grammar is the result of evolution and expediency rather than intelligent design.

Int

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Post by bellum paxque » Sat Apr 22, 2006 4:48 am

I wonder - do artificial languages like esperanto deal with the same problems, or was the designer(s) able to predict and preclude them all while the language was still in development?

-David

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Post by Deudeditus » Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:42 pm

some of them do. http://www.langmaker.com has tons of artificial languages (and some funny neologisms, but that's besides the point.).
Most of them are ridiculously complicated.. I think it's kind of a contest to see who can make the most complicated language or something.. but they also have a few 'real' artificial languages such as Esperanto and Lojban and whatnot.

-Jon

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Post by nostos » Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:57 pm

The reflexive can refer to both the main verb or certain types subordinate clauses with oratione obliqua, including purpose clauses, so yer logic is not off, Interaxe, and Ulpianus is right too. In this case the context generally makes it clear; I hadn't thought of Ulpianus' example until he pointed it out, but it is certainly possible because a purpose clause is one of those that can refer to either/or.

Assuming the Allobroges had been occupying Helvetian territory, I have no idea how to render the last example Int. gave (based on Ulpianus' question) - since it depends heavily on context, I don't think (intuitively) they would have used 'eos', but rather 'se' and assumed it and 'per suos fines (ab Allobrogibus uictos)' referred back to the subject of the main verb (the Helvetians). Anyway, that's my guess :P

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Post by Interaxus » Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:13 am

Hi Nostos,

Thanks for your kind thoughts.

The odd thing is, though, that the ‘eos’ comes directly from Caesar.

Allobrogibus sese vel persuasuros, quod nondum bono animo in populum Romanum viderentur, existimabant vel vi coacturos ut per suos finis eos ire paterentur.?(Caesar, De Bello Gallico,I, 6)

However, your own reasoning is seemingly sound enough, because I just unearthed an old interlinear completely-parsed version of Book 1 of the Gallic Wars and scanning through it, lo and behold, I came across the following note:

"eos, acc. Plur. M. of the dem. Pron. is, ea, id, used as a personal pron. of the 3rd pers.; it is subject-acc. of ire; it refers to the Helvetii. Observe that the pronouns are not used according to the rules. If Caesar had written leisurely he would probably have written here: per eorum fines se ire."

Well, I’m not going to argue with J. Caesar (look what happened to Brutus and Cassius) OR with the Rev. James B. Finch, M.A. D.D. (writing in 1898).

Meanwhile the riddle set by Ulpianus remains unsolved.

Int

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