Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Irrealis mood and non-finite verbs

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 13:17
Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 5:40 AM, R A Brown <ray@...> wrote: >> Mark J. Reed wrote: >> > My understanding is that the optative is restricted to non-factual >> > conditions being wished for/desired/etc, >> >> ...and then only when these refer to future time. > > Ah, yes. Saying "If only I had come home in time to save her!" would > indeed be a desired non-factual condition, but not an optative > candidate in Greek. I think it'd get the indicative instead of the > subjunctive, actually, which feels weird to my Romance-based training.
Quite right - it would be aorist _indicative_ - at least in Classical Attic and, hence, the Koine. Homer never used the indicative for wishes of any kind. Unreal present wishes - "If only I were lying on a sun drenched neach right now!' - which are expressed by imperfective indicative in Classical Attic, are expressed by the optative in Homer. But past wishes, like your example, are expressed by ὤφελε (ôphele) + infinitive.
>> But your statement needs another qualification: the compulsory use of >> the optative is restricted to non-factual conditions and wishes for the >> future. >> >> The optative had other _optional_ uses. > > An optional optative. A literary alliterative distinction? :)
>> But if we assume that 'realis' and 'irrealis' are the ends, poles, or >> whatever, of the modal continuum, then it is certainly true to say that >> the optative tends more toward the irrealis end than the subjunctive. > > Which, clearly, tends more that way than the indicative, which can > still be used for "irrealistic" cases...
Yes, indeed.
>> Personally, while the realis ~ irrealis distinction may be useful in the >> description of some languages, I do not think it is very helpful in >> describing either Latin or Classical Greek where the use of the various >> moods is very much grammaticalized. > > Agreed, but I don't personally regard realis/irrealis as a descriptive > tool for grammar in the first place (although there may be languages > whose standard description uses the terminology that way). To me, > it's more of a theoretical basis for the way the grammar developed, > and useful in much the same way as physics problems about ideal > spheres moving with constant acceleration through frictionless media. > As with any science, reality tends to be messier. :)
Yep - I am basically in agreement with all that. -- Ray ================================== ================================== Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora. [William of Ockham]


ROGER MILLS <rfmilly@...>