Using any verb as a causative-former

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Anthony Appleyard
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Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by Anthony Appleyard » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:46 am

In English, many verbs (say "to X") can be used as "to X and thereby cause ...". E.g.:
*Ordinary usage: I cut him :: and thereby injured him.
*As a causative-former: I cut him loose :: and did not injure him, but cut something else, and thereby made him loose, that is, freed him from being tied up or tethered.

Are such constructions possible in Latin or Greek? If not, how to express such meanings?

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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:32 pm

It sounds like you might be talking about result clauses, and yes, they are used both in Latin and Greek.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by mwh » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:04 pm

Anthony is not talking about result clauses, are you Anthony? You may be talking about factitive or causative verbs, or you may be talking about predicative or proleptic use of adjectives (as in “I cut him loose”), a form of construction available in Latin&Greek as well as English, or you may be talking about the polysemy of a verb such as “cut,” or you may be talking about all of those things—but it goes wider than any of that. English and Lat.&Gk. forms of expression can’t be expected to coincide. Lat.&Gk. make freer use of prefixed verbs than English, for example (and verbs in Latin and English are used more metaphorically than in Greek). We need to focus not on the form of expression or the syntax but on the actual meaning, and how that meaning would be expressed in the other language. It’s always a mistake to start from the English locution, instead of from the sense of the English locution.

That said, “I cut him loose” could simply be eum solui, ελυσα. Or you could expand or modify that according to context.

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Anthony Appleyard
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Post by Anthony Appleyard » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:46 pm

How in Latin and Greek would I say compactly "I cut him loose" while mentioning the two ideas of "cutting" and "freeing"/"loose"? Plain "eum solui" or "ελυσα" could have happened by me untying a knot rather than by using a knife.

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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by mwh » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:26 pm

Just add in a knife. E.g. cultro (usus) eum (ex)solui, μαχαιρᾳ (χρησαμενος) αυτον (απ)ελυσα. It’s not hard, once you grasp the principle.

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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by opoudjis » Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:19 am

I get the feeling you are talking past each other.

The English construction is a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_clause, where the adjective is a predicate acting as a clause (typically result clause). Paraphrasing it is not answering the question of whether such reduced result clauses, consisting of just an adjective, are present in Greek or Latin. For a better example phrase to translate, try "I painted him red", or "I beat her unconscious", or "I returned him alive", or "I make her happy".

Those are still predicates, and if Greek can express them as verbs, either in the (supplementary) participle or the infinitive, it will. If the concept is better expressed as "to be ADJ" than a verb, Greek can use the adjective, and (at least if it is a supplementary participle) leave the participle ὤν implied (so analysed in Smyth 2116). But cf. the example Smyth gives of ποιῶ in Herodotus 7.129, under 2142: ἀνωνύμους τοὺς ἄλλους εἶναι ποιεῖ "causes the others to lose their names"; you could just as easily say that in English as "makes the others anonymous."

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Anthony Appleyard
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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by Anthony Appleyard » Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:39 pm

opoudjis wrote:... "I painted him red", or "I beat her unconscious", or "I returned him alive",...
A difference is: When I painted him red, I painted him. When I beat him unconscious, I beat him. When I returned him alive, I returned him. But when I cut him loose, I did not cut him, but I cut only his tether or his bonds.

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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by RandyGibbons » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:46 pm

Are such constructions [like "I cut him loose"] possible in Latin or Greek? If not, how to express such meanings?
Anthony, I'll leave it to oroudjis to clarify whether "I cut him loose" is, linguistically, a "small clause" just like "I painted him red". (And thanks, oroudjis, for that lesson in linguistics. To be honest, I didn't understand Anthony's question until I read your reply.)

I think your question is an interesting one, but is it best to think of these as "constructions" or just plain old English idioms, which are hard enough to translate into Greek or Latin (which I leave to the better Graecists and Latinists like Barry and Michael and oroudjis)? "Constructions" evokes for me the inadequate, often absurd, results from online dynamic translation services.

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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by mwh » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:17 pm

I fondly thought that I’d adequately addressed Anthony’s first two posts, but now we seem to be back at square one. As Anthony points out (and this was the point of his original post), “I painted him red” and opoudjis’ other examples are not really analogous to “I cut him loose.” opoudjis’ post, effectively expanding my reference to predicative use of adjectives in such constructions, failed to confront the difference, which my original reply was an attempt to deal with.

The primary idea of cutting someone loose, as I take it, is the act of setting them loose, releasing them. There are of course various ways of expressing that, but solui/ελυσα is the cleanest and most neutral, and easily modifed, as I said. Anthony wanted to include the specific idea of cutting as opposed to untying. I demonstrated how he could economically do that by adding a knife.

Of course we could make the cutting the primary idea, e.g. vincula ita secui ut eum solverem/ετεμον τους δεσμους ωστε ελυσα αυτον, a traditional result clause, and horribly artificial, cumbersome and pedantic, looking like something out of an elementary composition textbook. Or we could make two coordinated sentences of it, vincula eius secui (et) eum solui, more English than Latin. But in Latin and Greek the cutting would most naturally be subordinated to the loosing. If you don’t like my knife you could have e.g. vinclis sectis eum solui/τους δεσμους τεμων ελυσα αυτον. That too you cοuld call a paraphrase if you wanted, but I would call it a translation.

But however we view it, use of a predicate adjective, replicating the English idiom, would not meet the case. Sense first, syntax second.

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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:34 am

Yes, I think Michael has the right of it, and I think the problem here has to do with English idiom. There are certain phrases which sound excellent in the source language that sound absurd if rendered literally into the target language. What Michael is pointing out is that there is no exact equivalent phrase to "I cut him loose" in ancient Greek, and that you have to figure out how that would be expressed (and his examples are good). The only way to do this kind of thing is to read lots of Greek and Latin and get a sense for how such expressions are handled, or end up with "schoolboy Greek (and Latin)," the kind of things that are technically correct, in a sense, but no native speaker of the language would have written. It's often surprising how native speakers of a language express concepts, to those of us who are on the outside, but that's simply part of learning the language. Some examples: how do you say "good luck" in Latin?

Beginning student: Bona fortuna tibi...
The way it was actually said: Feliciter!

or "How are you?"

Beginning student: Quam es?
What they said: Quid agis?

Or a Greek example, let's go!
Beginning student: ἐξερχώμεθα
What they said: ἄγωμεν...

Those are phrases culled from the Colloquia. Different expressions might be used in Classical texts and other contexts.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by opoudjis » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:04 am

Shrug. Do constructions syntactically analogous to the English use of small clauses exist in Greek and Latin, which was how I'd read the question? Yes, and beyond bare participles and adjectives, the accusativus cum infinitivo is mentioned in the Wikipedia page about small clauses, as a syntactically comparable construction.

Are those constructions always going to be the best way to render the English use of predicate constructions, which Anthony also asked? Of course not, as well argued by Michael and Barry. And I noted that Greek is much happier about using participles than adjectives in such constructions, even when it does use the syntactically parallel construction.

I concur that not in a million years would you translate the two predicates of "I cut him loose" in Ancient or Modern Greek to look anything like a small clause. The idiomatic rendering would be indeed a participial clause like Michael proposes for Ancient Greek; Modern Greek would just do parataxis. That's actually why I expanded the examples, to include ones where the idiomatic rendering can look a lot closer to the English syntactically.

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Anthony Appleyard
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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by Anthony Appleyard » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:36 am

Another English example of the "I cut him loose" type is:

The plane wreck melted. :: would probably need a foundry.
After many years, the plane wreck melted out of the bottom end of the glacier. :: what melted was not the plane wreck but the ice that it was buried in.

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Re: Using any verb as a causative-former

Post by opoudjis » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:51 am

Anthony Appleyard wrote:Another English example of the "I cut him loose" type is:

The plane wreck melted. :: would probably need a foundry.
After many years, the plane wreck melted out of the bottom end of the glacier. :: what melted was not the plane wreck but the ice that it was buried in.
How is that the same at all? That's just metonymy, with the plane wreck standing in for the ice under it. There's no second predicate here.

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