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When did romance copula take on their modern meanings?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by killerbee256, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    I thinking how does one say "Hello, how are in? latin, and the first thing that came to mind was "salvete, quōmodo stas?" but then I realized that stare didn't mean "to be" in classical Latin. So I'm wondering when did Latin stare take on the meaning "to be" instead of "to stand." I would think this would have taken place by the 5th or 6th century as it's common to all romance languages, does it show up with this meaning in any literature, Roman plays or graffiti with that meaning earlier then that time?
     
  2. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I don't understand. What make you think stare changed its meaning from to stand, to remain to to be in all or at least most Romance languages?

    French: no
    Italian: no
    Spanish: Sort of.
    Romanian: no
    ...
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  3. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Well, it seems like stare had evolved to mean "to be" in Vulgar Latin and was used along esse, so it did pass into all the Romance Languages from the start. However the intricate differences between the two verbs as found in Spanish only came about much later in the Iberian-peninsula environment. Also if French does not have two verbs today, it's not because it took the older Classical Latin model. The two verbs "essre or estre < essere" and "ester or eter < stare" became so close phonetically they ended up merging, "essre/estre" for present tenses, future, conditional, past simple", "ester/eter" for the participles, infinitive, imperfect.

    For the particular uses of these verbs in each romance language the wikipedia article seems well written to me.

    These verbs were already discussed amply in another thread, but maybe as a side topic I think, so I don't remember what it was called.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  4. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    You also included the infinitive in an earlier post, but I don't see how you can go from stare to estre. As berndf noted in that thread, essere > estre is the straightforward, accepted derivation. Also, have you seen the form eter attested anywhere? :confused:
     
  5. exgerman Senior Member

    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    The insertion of a helping E or I before an initial consonant cluster starting with S is one of the basic changes from Latin to Romance.
     
  6. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    I know, but that gives us French estér, not éstre.
     
  7. exgerman Senior Member

    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Remember that stare and dare are not really 1st conjugation verbs in Latin, although they look like it when you don't mark length. Their A is short throughout (except in the 2nd person singular of the present), and that of stare is unaccented in the infinitive once the epenthetic E appears.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  8. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    :confused: This is what they look like when you mark length: stāre and dăre.
     
  9. exgerman Senior Member

    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    You are right---sorry. Linguists seem to think that estre in French is from essere, a Vulgar Lation reformulation of esse to make it more like a regular infinitive. TheT arose as a purely phonetic phenomenon when the French reduction of post-stress syllables changed essere to essre to estre.
     
  10. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I'm glad you found the other thread.:)
    The evolution of stare would be stare > estar > ester > eter. No I haven't seen eter attested but given the forms été, était, the s would have had to be lost at some part.

    Ok, from this link it seems the loss of the s resulted in etre and eter, which in turn brought about the merger. So the epenthetic "t" had long been part of the "esse" infinitive for long before that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  11. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    stāre is conjugated exactly like amāre in the present system. dare, on the other hand, has short a in damus, datis, darem, dare etc. Historically, both are athematic verbs (*steH-, *deH- in ablaut with *stH-, *dH-), while most other 1st conjugation verbs are thematic denominatives with suffix *-eH-yo- > *-ā-yo > -ā-. stāre has been completely assimilated to the amāre type, but dare has followed the analogy of amāre in dās, dat, dā only.
     
  12. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    The text you quoted is an unsourced statement from an outdated version of the Wikipedia article… The "late Middle Ages" is much too late for the merger (insofar as there has been a merger in French, keeping in mind that ester has probably existed continuously as a distinct verb in legal terminology). In Alexis (11th century) we already find esteit (from stare) used as the imperfect of estre, apparently interchangeably with the etymological form er(e)t (< erat):
    • N'il ne lur dist, ne il nel demanderent, Quels hom esteit ne de quel terre il eret. ("He didn't tell them, nor did they ask, what man he was nor from what land he was")
     
  13. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I suppose we have to define when the Late Middle Ages are.... I would have considered 11th century late. Interesting in your example that both verbs are present and used with the exact same sense: identification. Spanish/Portuguese/Italian don't use "stare" with that sense today. The implosive "S" had not been dropped either.
    Yes, I know ester still survives in legal jargon meaning "to appear in court". But is that enough to consider it alive in its own right? All the common meanings merged.

    Edit: Wikipedia's Phonological history article informs that /s/ was dropped before voiceless consonants between 1250-1350, so the verb confusion must not be linked to the /s/.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  14. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    It was very much alive in Old French, with a full paradigm of forms distinct from estre, and the primitive meaning "stand", still available in Old French, did not merge into estre. French (like Italian, Spanish, etc.) no longer has a simple verb to express this basic concept. (Maybe this will help get us back on the topic of killerbee256's original question…)
     
  15. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Did the Latin stare "fully" correspond to the English concept of "to stand"? I think e.g. of stare as opposite to sedere, or constructions meaning stand up/out ... (not in figurative sense) with the verb stare.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2013
  16. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    I'm not exactly sure what you're asking, but stare means "to be standing upright" (as opposed to sitting or lying down) and "to remain standing" (as opposed to walking/moving). The inchoative uses are possible but apparently less frequent, i.e. "to stand up" (from a sitting/lying position), "to come to a standstill".

    There are many figurative meanings not necessarily found with English stand. For example, based on Lewis & Short:
    • to remain/linger somewhere
    • to serve/fight in the army
    • to stand firm/stand one's ground in a fight, persevere
    • a battle lasting/continuing
    • a ship lying at anchor
    • the face/features remaining unmoved/rigid
    • a liquid/blood coagulating
    • to be thick with/full of [leaves/dust/snow/etc.]
    • to stand by someone/take someone's side
    • to come to/cost [a price]
     
  17. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I understand what M means, I think. We have a similar phenomenon with schijnen, blijken, maybe lijken, in Dutch, meaning 'to seem' in English. They seem to refer to light originally... But the figurative (...) meaning seems to have turned up in the thirteenth century already...

    Well, in Dutch we do not use 'to be' very often, we prefer to use a 'position verb': het glas ligt (lies), het huis staat (stands), ik zit in de file (I sit [am stuck] in the traffic jam), ...
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  18. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Yes, you have understood my question well. My idea was if we cannot find already in Latin the lack (at least partially) of the usage of stare as opposed to sitting/lying/walking.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  19. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    We can. But you asked more: if there was the meaning stare=stand up and sedere=sit down. Stare (=stand) can be in opposition to sedere (=sit) without either stand up or sit down having to exist. For both verbs, the inchoative meanings are not the primary ones.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  20. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    You are right. I wanted to focus to the fact that the verb stare in Romance languages still has the (hidden) meaning of "stand, to be stable" to a certain degree, as opposed to moving. But as opposed to sitting/laying/walking we need to use expressions as stare in piedi, estar en pié etc. and for stand up there are other verbs, not connexed to stare: alzarsi, levantarse etc. That's why my question about the "situation" in Latin.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  21. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    The descendants of stare have a "stative" meaning, but they are not incompatible with movement (stare in movimento, estar moviéndose, etc.).
     
  22. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    And the strict meaning of "standing on your feet" or "standing up" is mostly lost, at least in the RL I'm familiar with. The English verb "to stand" is actually a tricky to translate into the modern RL; often one must use a (para)phrase.
     

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