Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Supine (was: Tense formations)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, September 16, 2001, 11:37
At 2:39 pm -0400 14/9/01, Douglas Koller, Latin & French wrote:
>James wrote: > >>I'm documenting Jameld's grammar, and I could do with your help, >>terminology-wise. >> >>But there's still something I always think of as a past participle; maybe >>it's more of a verbal adjective. Help, I need technical terms! Compare:
A participle is a verbal adjective. [snip]
>imagined that the other Scandinavian tongues had similar features. My >OED gives the definition of "supine" as "a Latin verbal noun...", but >I think there's a slight shift in meaning when it comes to >Scandinavia, and perhaps that's the term you're looking for?
True. -------------------------------- At 3:16 pm +0200 15/9/01, BP Jonsson wrote:
>At 13:22 2001-09-15 +0200, Rune Haugseng wrote: >> > >> > I don't believe that that distinction exists in Norwegian - «elsket» would >> > I think be used in both situations. But I'm just a beginner, so maybe Tal >> > or our new member Rune (velkommen!) could provide native-speaker >> > clarification. >> > >> >>Thanks! That sounds right to me, although you'd probably be better off >>asking someone who actually knows what a supine is... > >The distinction exists only in Swedish, and what's more it was originally >a purely orthographical device. >
> >They snatched the term _supinum_ from Latin grammar, but AFAIK the latine >supine is actually a quite different usage. Maybe Ray can describe that.
Yep - correct on both points. The term _supine_ was snatched Latin grammar and, in Latin, it is quite different. Traditionally, Latin is said to have two forms of the supine, one ending in -um the other in -u, e.g. dictum, dictu. IMO this is unnecessarily complicating the issue. Latin formed abtract nouns from verbs; these, in their nominative case, are identical with the masculine form of the perfect participle, but they are declined as _4th_ declension nouns, e.g. cano, canere >> cantus (song, singing [noun], music) uideo, uidere >> uisus (sight) audio, audire >> auditus ([the sense of] hearing) dico, dicere >> dictus ( [the faculty of] speech, a saying) etc. Notice, these are not verbal nouns; they have none of the functions of verbs. They are nouns derived from verbs; they cannot, e.g. govern a direct object, and if they are modified it is by an adjective not by an adverb, e.g. felices cantus [Lucretius] cantu tremulo [Horace] The so-called 'supine in -u' is merely the ablative of such a noun, e.g. mirabile dictu = wonderful in-respect-of-speech = wonderful to relate. So what is the supine? It is a use of the accusative of such nouns, fossilized at a stage when they could still functioned as verbal nouns. They show purpose and are common enough in Plautus: comissatum ibo - I shall go to make merry abiit ambulatum - he went off to take a walk coctum ego, non uapulatum dudum conductus fui - I have just been hired to cook, not to be beaten it petitum...gratiam - he goes to seek a favor Note that with last example the supine is governing a direct object, i.e. _gratiam_ (favor). Supines are much less used by later writers such as Cicero & Caesar, tho both do have examples including supines with direct objects. These supines were used in earlier times with _ire_ (to go) to form a periphrastic future, e.g. cubitum eo - I am going to lie down, I shall lie down. This provides the so-called "future passive infinitive" given in grammar books, e.g. captum iri - tho such forms were, in fact, comparatively rare in Classical Latin. So the Swedish 'supine' is quite different; it does not show purpose nor, as far as I understand it, is it a verbal _noun_. I guess the Swedish grammarians coined the term 'supine' because the form is similar to (indeed, as Philip Jonsson shows, was once the same as) the perfect participle and, likewise, the Latin supine is similar in form to the perfect participle - but the usage is quite different. My own view is that it is best not to use the term 'supine' in describing a feature of one's own Conlang - unless, of course, it is a verbal noun denoting purpose :) Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================


John Cowan <cowan@...>
Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>