LINGUIST List 6.12

Thu 12 Jan 1995

Disc: Greek and Latin verb agreement, Greek words for snow

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  1. Dave Wharton, Greek & Latin verb agreement, Greek words for snow

Message 1: Greek & Latin verb agreement, Greek words for snow

Date: Thu, 22 Dec 1994 12:09:16 Greek & Latin verb agreement, Greek words for snow
From: Dave Wharton <WHARTONDsteffi.uncg.edu>
Subject: Greek & Latin verb agreement, Greek words for snow

Philippe Luc Valiquette wrote on Dec. 17, concerning the agreement
of neuter plural nouns with singular verbs in Ancient Greek:

)The phenomenon mentioned for Ancient Greek -- that can apply as well to
)Latin -- doesn't appear to be a ((quirk of syntax)). Rather than being
)_apparently odd_ and motivated by a _rule_ of invariable agreement, it
)should be regarded as a ((quirk of meaning)). While neuter pl. subjects,
)still showing in Ancient Greek and Latin evidence of an ancient collective
)case, have *usually* triggered sg. agreement on a verb, numerous examples
)show that this pseudo rule wasn't always observed, and that semantic
)considerations, most of the time -- moreover, metrical reasons for poets
)--, have governed the agreement (syllepsis).

For the record, Latin neuter plural nouns do not trigger singular
verb agreement.

And I'd like to clear up one other thing: someone posted on LINGUIST
some time ago the assertion that Ancient Greek has two distinct lexemes for
snow -- one for falling snow, another for fallen snow. Also not true.
Ancient Greek has several words used of snow, but they do not divide the
semantic pie in the way suggested.

David Wharton
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