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
>> 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...
>> 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.
Frustra fit per plura quod potest
fieri per pauciora.
[William of Ockham]