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Re: Latin Grammar Dilemma

From:Douglas Koller, Latin & French <latinfrench@...>
Date:Monday, December 2, 2002, 22:08
Christian writes:

>I was considering to keep Classical Latin's neat "accusativus cum >infinitivo" construction alive in Jovian, e.g. > > Vou ti ere condinda. > [vow ti e:r kAn"dind@] > I_want thee be happy. > "I want you to be happy." > >However, there seems to be a potential for misunderstandings if the >infinitive is a transitive verb, e.g. > > Vou ti esser. > [vow ti "ess@r] > I_want thee eat. > >Should that be parsed as "I want you to eat" or "I want to eat >you"? > >Does Latin have this ambiguity too? If so, I might just let the >AcI die out and continue using the preposition |ud| like English >"that" or German "dass".
Though I now teach Latin, I'm no expert (à la "Those that can, do...."), but it would seem to me that such an ambiguity would have existed. And perhaps that ambiguity became distracting enough so that the modern Romance langs adopted the "Je veux que [+ subj.]", "Quiero que [+ subj.]" structure. I believe in the modern langs, if the subject of both the main verb and the infinitive clause are the same, you can get away with an infinitive (Je veux être content.), but when the subjects are different, you have to go for a que-subj. clause (Je veux que tu sois content.). My lang, Géarthnuns, works along these lines, even in indirect discourse: Sí lé bí thauth ngamath. I-nom past-aux. future-inf.marker come say I said I would come. vs. Sí lé, gü söb lí höithauth sho, ngamath. I-nom past-aux, that he-nom future-aux come-discoursive SHO, say I said he would come. ("sho" ends subordinate clauses) Per Jan's possible suggestion of word order distinction, a "Vou ti esser" vs. "Vou esserti" difference might well work, but I could envision some places where such word orderiness might become a little unRomancelang-like (if that's what you're shooting for). You could also try (also not so Romancelang-like, I'll grant you) a distinct distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs so that, say: Vou ti asser. would mean "I want you to eat" while Vou ti esser. without an additional direct object would mean "I want to eat you", and with an additional object would mean "I want you to eat (schmaltz, the parson's nose, z.B.). Kou