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My understanding is that the optative is restricted to non-factual
conditions being wished for/desired/etc, while the subjunctive is for
all the other things we're lumping into "irrealis" here.  But I
haven't ever studied Greek, so I could be completely wrong.



On 3/31/08, Campbell Nilsen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 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 <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> 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
> >> statement.
> >
> > 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.
>
> --
> Ray
> ==================================
> http://www.carolandray.plus.com
> ==================================
> Frustra fit per plura quod potest
> fieri per pauciora.
> [William of Ockham]
>

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Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>