Past Participle usages

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sunhawk43
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Past Participle usages

Post by sunhawk43 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:20 pm

Does anyone have any help on distinguishing the use of a participle with a form of esse in past time from the same participle being used as a predicate adjective of the same verb in present time?

When is Gallia est divisa to be translated:
-------Gaul is divided
instead of
------Gaul was divided?

See Allen and Greenough, Sect. 495.

Qimmik
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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by Qimmik » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:07 am

Gallia est divisa

The core meaning of the Latin perfect tense is that the action occurred in the past and the consequences endure into the present. "Gaul was and still is divided". "Gaul has been divided". I doubt Romans would have felt a distinction in their minds between the periphrastic perfect passive and the past participle used as a predicate adjective. The distinction is in the English translation--sometimes it's better to translate an expression with the English preterite or perfect tenses and sometimes as an attributive adjective in the present tense. But there's no touchstone. You can never translate mechanically--you need to translate in a way that reads well in English.

adrianus
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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by adrianus » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:18 pm

I'm of a different mind. I think the matter without context was indeed ambiguous to ancient romans.
Non concurro. Sine contextu Romanis antiquis, ut opinor, verè res ambigua erat.
"Tectum ligo factum est" has two senses which were evident. // geminos et manifestos sensus habet.

"The roof was made of wood and looked lovely" does not imply that the roof continues to exist now.
"Tectum ligo factum [participium verbale] est et bonâ facie fuit."
Per hanc sententiam, tectum hodiè exstare non subauditur.

Only "the roof is made of wood and looks lovely" encompasses existence continued into the present.
"Tectum ligo factum [participium adjectivum] est et bonâ facie est."
Continuò autem exstare per hanc subauditur.
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.

sunhawk43
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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by sunhawk43 » Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:13 am

My question arose when I saw, in Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar (1903), p. 311, the statement Gallia est divisa translated as a predicate adjective (Gaul is divided.). I looked briefly at the context of this head statement in Caesar's BELLO GALLICO, and in my opinion (which at my level is of course of very little merit), felt that it just as well could have been translated as a periphrastic perfect passive. I checked with Woodcock's A New Latin Syntax (1959) in section VII 'The Use of Participles,' at p. 79: which provides, in part: "The perfect participle in -tus originally denoted a state, so that Hannibal victus est meant firstly 'Hannibal is beaten' (of a present state). But this, for practical purposes, is equivalent to saying 'Hannibal has been beaten') of an act completed). Thus victus est came to be used as the passive tense-equivalent of vicit, and in both senses of vicit (true perfect, and aorist). Nevertheless victus could still be used as a predicated adjective, so that Hannival (sic) victus est, erat, erit, may mean either 'Hannibal is, was, will be, a beaten man', or 'Hannibal has been, had been, will have been beaten', according to the context."

A&G clearly state in sect. 495, p.313: "Participles are often used as Predicate Adjectives. As such they may be joined to the subject by esse or a copulative verb. ... NOTE. -- From this predicate use arise the compound tenses of the passive, -- the participle of completed action with the incomplete tenses of esse developing the idea of past time, as, interfectus est, he was (or has been) killed, lit. he is having-been-killed (i.e., already slain)."

As a related aside: both of these modern Latin Grammars also recognize the use by Latin authors of the perfect participle with fui, fuisti... fueram, fueras... fuero, fueris....

I find some understanding of the history and evolution of the participle in these Grammars, but not any really helpful guidance or hint on how to translate the construction in this remote and isolated corner of the universe now 2000 some odd years from the time when these statements were uttered. Context is of course helpful evidence, albeit hearsay.

Qimmik
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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by Qimmik » Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:13 am

There's no way to tell from the Latin. The two usages are semantically very close, if not indistinguishable, because the attributive adjective in the present is the result of the action of the verb in the past. The distinction is drawn in English, so you have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether you want to translate a given expression with the present tense of esse and a past participle as a past-tense passive verb or as an attributive adjective with a present tense form of the verb "to be." Again, given that the two alternatives are semantically nearly equivalent and grammatically undistinguished in Latin, I doubt whether native speakers of Latin even drew a distinction in their own minds--I suspect that the distinction drawn in the grammar books is merely an illusion that arise from the fact that English draws this distinction--but in translating into English you have to make a choice, and there are no clues in the Latin.

However, there are many past participles whose meanings have become detached from the verbs from which they are derived and have become true adjectives in their own right, e.g., rectus, "straight", from rego, "to govern", "control". Again, there will be no clues in the Latin--you have to decide based on the context.

(On reflection, I think I misstated earlier when I wrote that the core meaning of the Latin perfect is that a past action has resulted in a state that endures into the present--the perfect is used to indicate a punctual action in the past--but the focus of the perfect is on the completed result of the action.)

adrianus
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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by adrianus » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:11 pm

Qimmik wrote:I suspect that the distinction drawn in the grammar books is merely an illusion that arise from the fact that English draws this distinction...
No, the distinction exists outside English: "Les pages, je les ai déchirées" (le participe passé à valeur de verbe avec auxiliaire) and "les pages déchirées" (le participe passé sans auxiliare à valeur d'adjectif). "Il est venu de Paris", "Il est homme nouveau venu de Paris".
Minimé! Discrimen extra linguam anglicam exstat.

And later latin will also sometimes like or use "factum fuit" for "factum est" (Priscian, the Bible and so on), for reasons nothing to do with English.
Et post aevum classicum nonnunquam habes "factum fuit" pro "factum est" (apud Priscianum, apud Bibliam et apud caeteras), quod linguam anglicam non spectat.
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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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by Qimmik » Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:35 pm

Adrianus, I think I may have led you astray by my incorrect use of the term "appositive" adjective--the issue here is the "predicate" adjective, the adjective as a complement of a form of the verb esse. Let me restate what I intended to say and apologize for the confusion.

In classical Latin (roughly through the "Silver Age", or first century CE), at least, there is no formal distinction between a past participle used as a predicate adjective and a past participle used in the periphrastic tenses of the passive voice -- perfect, pluperfect and future perfect. There is such a formal distinction in English--as well as other languages including French and Italian, but in the absence of a formal distinction in classical Latin, there is no way to tell whether speakers of Latin in the classical era drew such a distinction between two constructions that are semantically very close to one another--since the past participle represents the completion/result of the action of the verb. (As I mentioned, I suspect that speakers of classical Latin didn't draw such a distinction, but of course they can't tell us whether they did or not.) Eventually, in post-classical Latin, we do find evidence that such a distinction was drawn and reflected in the verbal forms.

Because the distinction between periphrastic passive and predicate adjective isn't reflected formally in classical Latin, the distinction between periphrastic passive and predicate adjective has to drawn in translating classical authors into English or French based on solely context. The text provides no guidance: there's no way to tell from the formal written language itself whether a given expression should be translated as a predicate adjective or as a perfect passive. That's the answer to the question originally raised by sunhawk.

The distinction in question here is not between "Les pages, je les ai déchirées" (this is perfect active, not passive) and "les pages déchirées" (an attributive adjective), but rather between "Les pages ont été déchirées" and "les pages sont déchirées".

I hope this is clearer, and, again, I apologize for my misuse of the term "appositive adjective" instead of "predicate adjective."

adrianus
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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by adrianus » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:59 pm

Qimmik wrote:(As I mentioned, I suspect that speakers of classical Latin didn't draw such a distinction, but of course they can't tell us whether they did or not.) Eventually, in post-classical Latin, we do find evidence that such a distinction was drawn and reflected in the verbal forms.
Non ex nihilo mutationes linguae. Quod omne in aevo (secundum A&G, §495 in annotatione) exstat "[participium] fuisse" forma non ferè distincta pro "[participium] esse" mihi equidem suadet ambiguitatem decerni inter participium ut adjectivum et ut verbum quae ad tempus pertineat.
Language changes don't come from nowhere. The existence in ALL periods (according to A&G, §495 note) of "[participium] fuisse" as a form generally indistinguishable from "[participium] esse" is evidence enough for me that native speakers recognised the verbal-adjectival tension as ambiguous in tense terms.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... 99.04.0001
Last edited by adrianus on Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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.

Qimmik
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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by Qimmik » Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:01 pm

The existence in ALL periods (according to A&G, §495 note) of "[participium] fuisse" as a form generally indistinguishable from "[participium] esse" is evidence enough for me that native speakers recognised the verbal-adjectival tension as ambiguous in tense terms.
Fair enough. You've convinced me.

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Re: Past Participle usages

Post by adrianus » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:38 pm

What a pleasant person you are, Qimmik.
Quam es perfacetus, Qimmik.
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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