|From:||Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>|
|Date:||Friday, April 30, 1999, 18:50|
The so-called "3rd person imperatives" (aka 'hortatives', aka 'jussives')
have been occupying our minds recently. But there is another peculiarity
about the standard 2nd person imperative one commonly finds in natlangs,
that is the negative is not formed simply by using the word for 'not' with
English & French, e.g., are a bit boring and negate the imperative in the
same manner as the indicative, i.e.
INDIC.: They live there - they don't live there
IMPER.: Go! - Don't go!
Similarly French has: Ne fumez pas! Tho' a more formal style has: Ne pas
fumer! (A year or so back in Burlington, Vermont I saw signs saying "Ne
pas fumez" :)
But many langs don't do that. While the ancients Greeks were happy enough
using 'me:' (the negative used with subjunctive mood as opposed to 'ou(k)'
used with the indicative) before its various imperatives, the Romans used
neither of negatives ('non' and 'ne' with the imperative). The most
common method was to use the imperatives of 'nolle' (to be unwilling) +
infinitive. Hence the name "noli-me-tangere" (Don't touch me) given to a
species of balsam which ejects its ripe seeds if touched lightly.
'noli me tangere' literally means "Be unwilling to touch me", tho' in fact
it means no more than the English: 'Don't touch me'. It occurs in the
Vulgate in John, XX, 17 where the Greek has merely: "me: mou haptou".
If one were telling several people not to touch one, we'd have:
nolite m: tangere.
There was also a rather more peremptory negative imperative possible in
Latin, 'ne' + the _perfect_ subjunctive! E.g.:
ne me tetigeris (singular)
ne me tetigeritis (plural)
(Presumably this is the 'strict' use of the perfect: to denote a present
state arising from a past action - something like "Don't get yourself in
the position of having touched me")
1st & 3rd person "imperatives" were expressed, as in many languages still,
by the present subjunctive ( eamus "let's go"; ueniat "let him come!") and
the negatives were formed simply by putting 'ne:' before them (ne ueniat
"let him not come!). This use is sometimes found extended to the second
person in verse, and in late Latin we fine also ne: + present subjunctive
for the negative imperative, as in the last petition of the Pater Noster:
ne nos inducas in tentationem.
In Welsh the negative is 'ni(d)' + spirant mutation & the verb is followed
by 'ddim' if the object is indefinite or 'mo' (<-- 'ddim o') if the object
is definite. In speech the preceding 'ni' is generally omitted, leaving
only the mutation, thus, e.g.
Prynais i lyfrau - I bought some books.
Prynais i'r llyfrau - I bought the books.
Phynais i ddim llafrau - I didn't buy any books.
Phrynais i mo'r llayfrau - I didn't buy the books.
BUT - none of this with the imperatives!
The imperatives of 'prynu' are: pryna (sing.), prynwch (plural).
But for negatives we must use: 'paid' (sing) or 'peidwch', the imperatives
of 'peidio' (to stop, cease) + the verbnoun, thus:
paid prynu! Don't buy.
peidwch prynu! Don't buy.
In literary Welsh we must have '=E2' (with), which also causes spirant of
'c', 'p' and 't', is used and some spoken dialects still preserve this,
paid =E2 phrynu! peidwch =E2 phrynu!
The verse from John BTW is translated:
Paid =E2 glynu wrthyf
(Cease with touching at-me)
There are other languages also which don't have negative imperatives, so to
speak, by some other way of forming prohibitions.
How do other conlangers deal with this. Is it just the word for "not" +
the imperative, or are there some more interesting constructions among our