Meaning of passive verbs + sum

By Hermes Trismegistus, in 'Latin to English Translation', Dec 23, 2018.

  1. Hermes Trismegistus Member

    Location:
    Brasilia
    How to translate these verb forms in English?

    Pulsatus sum..
    Pulsatus eram..
    Pulsatus ero..

    Osculata est..
    Osculata erat..
    Osculata erit..
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Pulsatus sum = I was beaten OR I have been beaten
    Pulsatus eram = I had been beaten
    Pulsatus ero = I will have been beaten

    Osculata est = she kissed OR she has kissed
    Osculata erat = she had kissed
    Osculata erit = she will have kissed

    Note that the osculata forms translate as active because osculor is a deponent verb (deponent verb = verb with passive forms but active meaning).
  3. Hermes Trismegistus Member

    Location:
    Brasilia
    So, scriptum est, is it translated more properly as It's written or It was written?

    But how to translate the phrase She was kissed?
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    It depends on context. In all cases, it means that the action of writing was completed in the past, so it can't mean "it's written" as in "it's being written (= someone is writing it)" or "it's habitually written (= people write it)". These two meanings would be expressed with the present passive, scribitur. However, it can mean "it's written" in the sense of being in a written state; when the action of writing was completed in the past but the "written" result remains so that you can say, for example, that such and such story "is written" in such and such book.
    You could use another verb meaning "kiss" and say basiata est, though this verb is mostly poetic; or you could change the construction to something like quidam illam osculatus est, "Someone kissed her", or osculum illi datum est, "She was given a kiss" or more literally "A kiss was given to her".
  5. Spinosus New Member


    Pacifica has said everything about Classical usage, and those preparing for school or college exams should perhaps not read on. However, in the comparatively unexplored Medieval Latin, alternatives evolve. The problem is that sum, es, est etc. suggest a present tense. It is the past participle (pulsatus, osculatus) which gives the force of the past. Moreover the present, future simple and imperfect tenses in the passive can be daunting and the moods confusible. So the following sequence evolves:
    PRESENT pulsatus sum
    FUTURE PERFECT pulsatus ero
    IMPERFECT pulsatus eram
    PERFECT pulsatus fui
    FUTURE PERFECT pulsatus fuero
    PLUPERFECT pulsatus fueram.
    Of course these are not used by every writer nor consistently by individuals.

    In passing I should mention that the absence of a continuous preset tense (scribo in Classical Latin means both 'I write' and 'I am writing' is compensated in Medieval Latin by scribens sum etc. using a present participle.
  6. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    I haven't read all medieval Latin that exists and so I can't affirm that never happens, but if it does happen, it's a rare rather than regular thing (if it were regular, I would have come across it).
  7. Spinosus New Member


    Thank you Pacifica. Well, it and its friends (amans sum) do exist and, as you know, Medieval Latin is such a vast corpus, much of it still in manuscript, that it is difficult to talk about rarity and normality. I notice that many people are drawn into Medieval Latin through their interest in local and family history, and I feel that the odd signpost (or is it warning?) will help. Not for the writers of beautiful Latinate prose though!
  8. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Do you happen to have any example to share?
  9. Spinosus New Member

    Thank you, Pacifica, and its a fair question. This may be a bit 'heavy' for the present forum, but these periphrastic forms are also evidenced, though very rarely, in Classical Latin. On this see:
    Roland Hoffmann
    Lateinische Verbalperiphrasen vom Typ «amans sum» und »amatus fui»
    Valenz und Grammatikalisierung (Primäres Textkorpus: Ovid)
    Series:
    Berlin, Bern, New York, Paris, Wien, 1997. XVI, 465 S., 8 Graf.
    For some good medieval examples, I am afraid that I am away from my library and papers (I am in France and they are in England), but I promise something at the end of the month.

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