On Sunday, May 16, 2004, at 01:51 AM, Christophe Grandsire wrote:

> En réponse à Garth Wallace :
>> Yeah, the Wikipedia says something similar (although it disagrees on the
>> form of the ablative).
> According to my Latin grammar, the ablative form of the supine ended in
> "u" (just get rid of the m :) ) and was uncommon, exiting only for a few
> verbs and used only as complement of some adjectives. The example it
> gives is: res jucunda auditu: something nice to hear. "Auditu" completes
> "jucunda": agreeable, nice.

100% correct

>>  But that still doesn't tell me what a supine
>> does, semantically.
> Adverbial use, goal, used only after verbs of movement (again according
> to my Latin grammar). Example: eo lusum: I come to play (the book did the
> translation from "go" to "come").

Correct in the description but, as Christophe has hinted, the translation
is wrong. "I come to play" is 'lusum uenio".  One could add that it was
also used wither 'ire' (to go) to form a periphrastic future like English
"am going to ....", so that the example in Christophe's grammar book could
mean 'I am going so that I may play' but is more likely to me simply "I am
going to play."

The latter meaning was more commonly expressed in Classical Latin by using
the future participle with 'to be', therefore:
'lusum eo' = 'lusurus sum' = "I am going to play".

However, the future participle is active, so the supine+ire did survive
with the impersonal passive forms of 'ire' to supply passive 'near future'
  meaning, e.g.
urbem captum itur = 'one/they/people are going to capture the city' = 'the
city is going to be captured'.

But there was a preference in the Classical language to express 'The city
is going to be captured' by:
futurum est ut urbs caperetur (it-is going-to-be the the-city
be-may-be-captured [subjunctive])

The 'adverbial goal' was more commomly expressed by 'ad + gerund' (or
gerundive) or by a clause beginning 'ut' (if positive)/'ne' (if negative)
with the verb in the subjunctive mood, therefore:
I am going so that I may play/ I am going in order to play =
ad ludendum eo _or_ ut ludam eo

>>  Why would you use a supine instead of the accusative
>> or ablative gerund?
> Each language has its quirks. Latin just didn't use ablative gerunds for
> goal complements after movement verbs.
But it could, and did, use the ablative of the gerund as a more common
alternative to the ablative of the supine. Indeed, syntactically the
supine was redundant and has virtually disappeared from all Romance tho
IIRC there are survivals in Romanian - but I don't have the details to

> As for the Swedish "supine", it seems to have quite a different use and
> origin from the Latin supine. I wonder why it's called that way...

That's up the Swedes on the list to answer   ;-)

>>  What does it mean to have a supine form distinct
>> from the gerund and the infinitive?
> Once again, each language has its quirks. Asking that is like asking what
> it means for French to make gender distinctions in nouns.

Purely style - Latin didn't need the supine forms; altenatives, generally
with gerunds or gerundives, were always possible and, indeed, more common.

>> Going by the examples in the Wikipedia article on Slovene grammar, it
>> seems to express purpose there. But that doesn't seem to be what it does
>> in Swedish, according to Andreas. And I can't remember even talking
>> about it in my high school Latin class.
> It seems the term "supine" just means "some invariable verbal derivative
> form that we can't really classify as anything else". In each language
> where it's used, it seems to have a different meaning. Don't try to find
> a common meaning...

I think that just about sums it up   :)

>> I don't know. :( Some sort of verbal adjective. I could be totally
>> misremembering, though.
> If I'm not confusing gerunds and gerundives (since French calls the
> gerund "gérondif" - at least if I'm not mistaken :)) - confusion arises
> easily), in Latin, while the gerund was an *active* *nominal* form used
> to give a complete declension to the infinitive (which existed only in
> the nominative and accusative), the gerundive was a *passive* *adjectival*
>  form, expressing obligation: amandus: which must be loved.

That's what the books say - and then go on to modify it with things like
"gerundive of attraction".

>  Problem: in the masculine and neuter non-nominative forms, it was
> identical to the gerund, and my book even shows examples where the
> gerundive replaced the gerund, when the gerund received an accusative
> complement.

The so-called "gerundive of attraction".

> I guess the Romans were just as confused as us with those two
> near-identical forms expressing such divergent meanings :)) .

It's pretty obvious, actually, that the Romans _didn't_ distinguish
between the two - mainly because the so-called 'gerund' _is only the
neuter of the gerundive!

If French does indeed call what we in English call the 'gerund' and
'gerundive' by the single name "gérondif" then the French show a better
understanding than Anglosaxons on this matter. The distinction between the
two is an artificial invention of latter-day grammarians.

To explain, it is necessary to remember that intransitive verbs could be
used impersonally in the passive, e.g.
itur = one/we/they/people are going (Fr. on va)

The gerundive is a passive verbal adjective; it has two uses:
(a) Mainly in nominative, it expresses obligative with the 'obligatee'
expressed (if expressed at all) by the dative case:
urbs captanda est = the-city is to-be-captured = the city must be captured
urbs nobis captanda est = the-city for-us is to-be-captured = we must
capture the city

epistulae scribendae sunt = the letters must be written
epistulae tibi scribendae sunt = you must write the letters

If the verb was intransitive, the gerundive was used impersonally, e.g.
eundum est = we/they/you must go
eundum tibi est = you must go

[As Christophe correctly observes, this is identical to what anglophone
traditionalist grammarians call the 'gerund'; however, this strange
species does call them 'gerundives' when so used]

(b) In genitive, dative and ablative cases and in the accusative after a
preposition to supply the 'missing cases' of the infinitive since the
infinitive could be used only as subject or direct object of a verb or
complement of verbs like 'to be', 'to seem'.
[gen.] cupidus urbis uisendae = desirous of seeing the city (lit. desirous
of-the-city to-be-seen)

[dat.] urbi uisendae studet = s/he is keen on seeing the city ['studere'
takes the dative case]

[abl.] urbe uisenda delectator = s/he get pleasure from seeing the city

[prep + acc.] ad urbem captandam proficiscuntur = they are setting out to
capture the city

[Anglophone traditionalists refer to the above as examples of the
"geundive of attrctive", i.e. in their minds the naughty Romans ought to
have used a gerund with a direct object, but got confused and "put the
objct into the case the grund should be and then made the gerundive agree
with it" - oh, the perverseness of prescriptivists!!]

If the verb was intransitive then, of course, the neuter of the gerundive
was used - this, and only this, use of the neuter, is termed 'the gerund'
by traditionalists, e.g.
[gen.] cupidus ludendi = desirous of playing

[dat.] ludendo studet = s/he is keen on playing

[abl.] ludendo delectatur = s/he takes pleasure from playing

[prep + acc.] ad ludendum proficiscuntur = the are setting out to play

What upsets this neat arrangement is that:
(1) to avoid the repetition of -o:rum.....-o:rum/ -a:rum....-a:rum in
genitive plural, some authors such Caesar used the neuter of the gerundive
(or 'gerund') with a direct object, e.g. cupidus castra capiendi =
desirous of capturing the camp. [castra 'camp' is neuter plural. But
others such as Cicero were quite happy with the normal gerundive
construction 'cupidus castrorum capiendorum.
[The prescriptivists say that Caesar in this respect writes 'better' Latin
than Cicero!]

(2) The neuter ablative is comes to be used virtually as an indeclinable
present participle and, with transitive verbs, therefore has an accusative
object. This use is found a early as Cicero and must have been common in
Vulgar Latin of the Empire as it is the origin of the so-called present
participle of Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan & Italian (the French present
participle, like its English counter-part, is a conflation of earlier
participle and gerund forms), e.g.
urbem uisendo delectatur - s/he takes pleasure seeing the city [the nom.
sing. of the present participle was not frequently used in Latin -
possibly because it was pronounced the same as the 2nd. person sing. of
present or furure tenses; -ans [a:s], -ens [e:s] ]

So, I'll try to sum up:
i. The gerundive was a passive verbal adjective, used mainly in the
nominative to express obligation, and in the other cases to supply the
'missing' forms of the inifinitive (i.e. gen., dat, abl. cases and
accusative after prepositions).
ii. If the verb was intransitive, then the neuter singular of the
gerundive was used - traditionalist anglophone grammarians refer its use
in the nominative to show obligation as an 'impersonal gerundive' and its
uses to supply the 'missing' cases of the infinitive as the 'gerund'.
iii. In Classical Latin we find some authors use the genitive and ablative
of the neuter with direct objects (i.e. are using the neuter gerundive as
an active verbal noun, i.e. really as a gerund) and, especially in later
Latin, and (always) in Vulgar Latin, this ablative of the gerund is used
as an invariable present participle.

> So, someone still wanting to beleive that Latin is a "logical" language?
> ;)))

Quite so.

Classical Latin had a certain artificiality imposed on it by the
'grammatici' and 'rhetores', while the spoken language went its own way -
but they had no logical model to work to and some pesky authors liked to
carve out their own style  ;)

On Sunday, May 16, 2004, at 03:14 AM, Garth Wallace wrote:

> Ah, that makes sense.
> So, supines are sort of adverbial, and the ablative supine is only used
> with a few verbs and adjectives?

Yep - they are essentially adverbial uses of two fossilized cases of a
verbal noun.

> Do you know if there's any particular
> reason why the two forms are considered "accusative" and "ablative"?

Yep - because of their endings: -um is clearly accusative. -u is generally
taken as ablative (correctly, I think), tho some argue that it's a dative.
  While the ablative of the 4th decl. is always -u, the dative varied
between -ui, and -u depending upon author (despite what school grammar
books may say). But IMHO the ablative better explains the syntax.

> Or why it's considered a verbal noun at all...seems more like a verbal
> adverb with a couple of forms that look nominal.

There are plenty of fully declined 4th declension nouns, formed from the
'supine stem' of verbs, that denote the action of the verb. Such nouns are
real nouns, i.e. they can never take direct objects and must be modified
by adjectives. The supines are clearly two fossilized forms dating from a
period when these were truly verbal nouns 9i.e. could take direct objects
and were modified by adverbs, tho also having noun case endings, like the

>  Why would you use a supine instead of the accusative
> or ablative gerund?


>  What does it mean to have a supine form distinct
> from the gerund and the infinitive?

It means a survival of an earlier verbal form co-existing with more
commonly used verbal forms.
> Once again, each language has its quirks. Asking that is like asking
> what it means for French to make gender distinctions in nouns.

> I seem to remember my Latin teacher and textbook referring to the
> "-ndus" form as the "future passive participle". Is "gerundive" just
> another word for that?

No. I have alo seen books that call the gerundive a "future passive
participle"; IMO it's very misleading to do so.

>> So, someone still wanting to beleive that Latin is a "logical" language?
>> ;)))
> Heh heh heh. I started conlanging because it *wasn't*. My first attempt
> at a conlang was a modified, "regularized" Latin that added some
> features I found in my encyclopedia that sounded interesting.

Yep - it's been done many-a-time - but as good a way as any to start
conlanging, I think.

Hope all the above helps  :)

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