Re: Irrealis mood and non-finite verbs
|From:||Campbell Nilsen <cactus95@...>|
|Date:||Monday, March 31, 2008, 19:43|
Could anybody explain the exact difference between the subjunctive and optative?
This confused me in Greek class...
"Define 'cynical'."-M. Mudd
----- Original Message ----
From: R A Brown <ray@...>
Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2008 11:20:40 AM
Subject: Re: Irrealis mood and non-finite verbs
Lars Finsen wrote:
> Den 29. mar. 2008 kl. 23.11 skreiv R A Brown:
>> For example, while many uses of the subjunctive in Latin tend toward
>> the irrealis pole, not all do so. For example, it is used for _all_
>> subordinate clauses in reported speech, irrespective of what evidence
>> the writer and/or speaker may or may not have for the veracity of the
> That's why it's called subjunctive, isn't it?
Not merely that, but because it's used in these subordinate clauses and
in other subordinate clauses such as adverbial clauses of purpose, of
result/consequence ('consecutive clauses'), and so on. The Latin
subjunctive is used mainly (tho, of course, not entirely) in various
types of subordinate clauses. Hence, as you observe, it got its name.
> The subjunctive in many IE languages is, if I'm not mistaken, a merger
> of a former subjunctive and an optative,
This is certainly so in Latin and, I feel sure, it is indeed so in many
other IE langs, as you say.
> which is a more specialised irrealis mood.
yes, it was used for wishes, desires. Certainly not events or situations
that were are had been real in the real world. One could, of course,
distinguish between wished that are possible or realizable and those
that cannot be realized, cf.
I wish he might arrive tomorrow ~ I wish the moon was made of cheese.
Both could be expressed by the optative mood in ancient Greek.
This is the case with Urianian, for example. But doesn't
> Latin have an optative still? (Forgive me, I'm not an expert in Latin.)
Nope - it was merged with the subjunctive at some pre-Latin period. The
subjunctives such as - sim, sis &c (<-- esse 'to be'), velim, velis etc
(<-- velle 'to wish, want' - are remnants of old optative forms.
Frustra fit per plura quod potest
fieri per pauciora.
[William of Ockham]