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Semantic bleaching of Romance habere, case relations

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Beachxhair, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    Hi

    I'm not sure I understand this sentence in Vincent & Harris' Studies in the Romance verb. They talk about the grammaticalization of habere as a perfective auxiliary.

    "Habere no longer selects its own LOC , but fills this position in its structure by promotion of the unexpressed AG of the verb to which it is attached by the Neutral ‘hinge’."

    Loc = Locative, AG = Agent, the case relations.


    They are talking about the sentence‘In ea provincial pecunias magnas collocatas habent’ (Cicero).

    They say that since the participle (then purely adjectival in form) must modify a NEUT, a passive interpretation is imposed upon collocatas here. The LOC subject of habere is expressed by the inflection, but the AG subject of collocare is not expressed anywhere.
    The NEUT object is the ‘hinge’ between habere and the participle, and the LOC of habere and the AG of the participle are not necessarily the same. We can now see more clearly how habere + past participle was grammaticalized: if context determines the identification of the LOC of habere with the AG of the participle, this habitual identification can soon become a grammatically required one. Habere ceases to select its own LOC subject, but fills this position in its case structure by promoting the unexpressed AG of the verb to which it is attached by the Neutral ‘hinge’.

    Please could someone explain the meaning of the final sentence?

    Thank you
     
  2. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Hi,
    the idea is that habere is a lexical verb with an argument structure that involves a possessor (they call it a LOC subject) and the possessee (the direct object). Now, the direct object in this case is modified by a verbal participle, collocatas, which has its own argument structure including an investor (AG). The LOC subject and the AG can refer to one and the same person. Note that this only works when the verbal participles is based on a transitive verb, that's why they call the direct object a hinge. When speakers of Latin increasingly identified the LOC subject and the AG as the same, this became grammatically required. The consequence was that habere lost its ability to select a LOC subject (a possessor) but instead filled its subject position with the AG of the verbal participle. As this could only happen when a direct object was involved, the grammaticalization of habere was dependent on this 'hinge' that could link habere and the verbal participle.

    It's a little confusing that they are using the term NEUT. It makes me think of neuter gender and that surely isn't a requirement for the object, which in this particular case is feminine.

    Did this help?
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  3. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    If I understand it well, the sentence "Seneca in ea provincia pecunias magnas collocatas habet’" would mean that Seneca is the owner of the "pecunias" and at the same time he is the one who "collocated" them. If so, then this construction is the predecessor of the "present perfect"-like tenses in the Romance and Germanic languages (Seneca has collocated..., Séneca ha colocado ...etc.). Am I right? ...
     
  4. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Where did you get "Seneca" from? That is not part of the quote (Seneca in ea provincia pecunias magnas collocatas habent=in this province [they] have great monies allocated).
    Yes, that is exactly what this whole thread is about: how the periphrastic perfect with habere as auxiliary verb evolved out of earlier constructs where the ppl. is used in its ordinary adjectival and passive meaning. See OP:
    (I think it should be perfect and not perfective, but never mind.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  5. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    Sometimes linguistic analysis is made "marble with too much conceiving".
     
  6. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Of course :). I have put Seneca (as an example) here to make the participle+habere construction easier to understand (i.e. to have an explicit subject).

    P.S. That's why habet in my sentence.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  7. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    It is kind of important in understanding the explanation that it is habent and not hebet. The implicit plural subject they can be understood as meaning the people in this province/concerned with this province. This is what's meant by "locative subject".
     
  8. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    :tick: Thank you, your explanation really clarifies things. I find that Vincent has quite a convoluted style of writing. One thing I did understand, though, was the case relation terminology. Case relations are just the semantic arguments of a verb, beneath the surface grammatical roles of subject, object etc. For example, the grammatical subject of a passive voice sentence is NEUT. Neutral (NEUT for short) is just the theme, the person of thing that undergoes or experiences, but is not really responsible for the action.
     
  9. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I understand. Let me reformulate my question (post #3): If we had an explicit subject in singular (e.g. Seneca :)), then the construction collocatas habet should be interpreted the same way as in the original sentence (with the implicit plural) ? I.e. should we still suppose the same subject for habere and collocare?
     
  10. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    Thanks for your response :) In the article, I think the term perfective auxiliary was used, I'm not sure why. I know there is a distinction between perfect (an event with perceived present relevance) and perfective (a past event with no continued relevance, looked upon from the outside, a single event, positioned in the past).
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  11. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I suppose you mean subject of habere and agent of collocare? Sorry to appear pedantic but since collocare appears in a passive and non-finite form there is an important difference between subject and agent. In passive voice, the patent is the subject and agreement in case, gender and number of the participle is with the patient.

    To answer your question: Yes, it can refer to the same subject of habere and patent of collocare can be the same; they don't have to be. It is the point of the quoted explanation that it is the process of grammaticalization of the periphrastic perfect that transforms this can be into an is (or vice versa, depend how you look at it).
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  12. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    The presence of the word provincia seems to be getting in the way. In Case Grammar, the subject of possessive "have" is considered to be locative. You can change the subject of the sentence to Seneca if you like. The analysis remains the same: Seneca would still be a (grammaticalized) LOC subject, identified with the syntactically unexpressed AGENT of the participle.
     
  13. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Thank, that's also the opinion (or "feeling", to be more precise) of mine.
    Yes, of course, I’m sorry ... By the way, isn’t there any liguistical term that can refer to both the subject and the agent of a verb?

    I’ve tried to create similar sentences in Western Slavic languages, where the corresponding “habere” verb is used (almost) the same way as in Latin. I’ve noticed that in general, whether the agent of the passive verb (ppl) coincides with the subject of “habere” or not, does not depend neigther on the presence/absence of an explicit subject nor on the number (singular/plural) of the “habere” verb. I.e. the spontaneous/probable interpretation of such sentences is rather context dependent than something else.

    Now back to Latin. Does the following sentence necessarily imply that those who own the houses are the same people that have destroyed them?

    “In ea provincia domus destructas habent”

    I can imagine (maybe I'm wrong) that the houses “they have” were destroyed by someone/something else (an enemy or an earthquake , for example). If so, then my question is the following: Is it necessary to introduce the cathegory of an implicit “locative subject” (they, in plural) to explain the evolution (> grammaticalization) of the construction ppl+habere?

    (I’m not sure if destruere is the right verb for my purposes, but I hope you’ll understand me anyway …)
    What's the difference when we ommit the word "provincia" (from the point of wiev of the meaning and grammaticalization) ?
    "Pecunias magnas collocatas habent"
    "Seneca pecunias magnas collocatas habet’"
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  14. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    As I understood it, those who own the houses aren't necessarily the ones who also destroyed them, but they can be. The actual interpretation of the sentence was subject to extralinguistic factors.

    The term "LOC subject" is used to distinguish the subject of habere from the agent of the verbal participle and reflects the fact that they don't have to be coreferential. The grammaticaliaztion of ppl+habere implies that the LOC subject position was lost in this kind of construction.

    There is only a meaning difference in that you (don't) specify where the money is invested. It does not have any impact on grammaticalization.
     

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