Quae est māter Mārcī?

By uglyelf, in 'Latin Beginners', Jan 11, 2018.

  1. uglyelf New Member

    Hi. Silly question. I'm pursuing the Dowling method. A week ago I finally passed the Dowling Wheel using the online tool, and I'm making a go at LLPSI. Right in Cap II I've run into a question. These two sentences:
    Quis pater Mārcī est? .... Quae est māter Mārcī?
    The first makes sense to me, but I thought 'Quae' was plural: (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/quis#Latin).
    Shouldn't they both be 'Quis'?
    m-f-n singular: quis-quis-quid | m-f-n plural: quī-quae-quae
    no? What am I missing?
  2. Dantius Homo Sapiens

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    Grammar books will normally tell you that quis is both masculine and feminine. However it's a bit more complicated than that. The way I think of it is that when the gender is uncertain, Latin defaults to the masculine. Therefore, when you're asking a question about "who", the gender is rarely certain, so quis is used all the time. However, in the sentence "Who is Marcus's mother?" there's no question about the gender, so they use the feminine quae. (cf. the word qui, quae, quod, where quae is the feminine form).

    I'm not exactly sure that's a good explanation, but whatever the reason is, the phrase quae est mater marci is based on actual Latin constructions. For instance, in Plautus's Curculio, we see these lines:
    Ther. ... Quae fuit mater tua?
    Plan. Cleobula. Ther. Nutrix quae fuit? Plan. Archestrata.
    Siegfried Zaytsev and Terry S. like this.
  3. uglyelf New Member

    Intelligo! Gratias tibi ago!
  4. Godmy A Monkey

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    Well, that's just your hypothesis, Dantius.

    As you point out yourself, the data is scarce and we have enough evidence for "quis" to be unisex. In Czech the same word (from the same IE root) takes grammatically the masculine gender in agreement, but is not felt as masculine, it's felt as a universal interrogative word for any kind of person.

    So, the thing is that Oerberg teaches in this once instance probably a very non-standard and non-normative classical Latin use (= non-classical use), in a desperate effort to show the gender difference somehow. By all manuals for classical Latin you, uglyelf , shouldn't create a habbit of using "Quae" substantively (as a noun) as "who" (no matter the real gender).

    Just ignore this piece of Oerberg. The rest of the book is fine.

    Quis est māter Mārcī?
    Last edited by Godmy, Jan 11, 2018
  5. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    There's nothing wrong or even unclassical with quae est mater Marci?

    I talk about this question a bit more at length here (in the last section, "C. Quis vs. qui (and the latter's feminine quae) in the sense of interrogative "who?"".)
  6. Godmy A Monkey

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    I'm sorry, but that proves nothing. It's still unclassical and highly atypical.
  7. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    True, my word per se proves nothing. But neither does yours.
    I say it isn't... Based on what I've seen.
  8. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    At any rate, L&S says that feminine quis is "ante- and post-classical". That would seem to imply that it agrees with me about quae being more usual in classical Latin. (I'm of course NOT saying that quis is wrong.)
  9. Godmy A Monkey

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    I don't know what L&S says, but there are classical examples of feminine quis (e.g. Varro; check OLD 1D) while there are none for subst. quae
  10. Godmy A Monkey

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    And Varro is practically a second Cicero...
  11. Godmy A Monkey

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    Good night for today! :)
  12. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    Do you mean per quem deorum dearumve...? The presence of deorum coming first makes the example rather inconclusive. I'm sure that if dearum had been alone, he would have used quam. (Though of course in this instance you could take it as "which one of the goddesses" rather than "who", so it wouldn't be exactly relevant to this discussion, either.)
    Godmy likes this.
  13. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    Searching the LL, I've found examples of quae used as a feminine "who?" in Terence, Plautus and Petronius, but I suspect you won't be satisfied unless I find one in Cicero (or Varro).

    The problem with this is that you don't find a definitely feminine "who" THAT often, so it may be hard to prove that most authors of such or such period would have preferred the one or the other. What's amply proven is that both occur.
  14. I don't want to sidetrack this thread, but there is a mention in the "Latin by the Dowling Method" article (http://wcdrutgers.net/Latin.htm) of "short sentences taken from Latin authors about how the Romans hated money". What does it refer to?
  15. Godmy A Monkey

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    In fact, what I've seen was a different Varro, but on the second look, he was quoting Pacuvius.

    I would agree with per quam if alone, because it seems many IE languages are sensitive (having one form) mainly in the nominative singular, although Greek would allow for it (therefore Latin might too, using this criterion).

    I would say that there is still enough of indirect evidence for that (aside from comparison with typologically similar other IE languages) in 1b you can see "fuit altercatio quis magis de re venerea voluptatem caperet, masculus an femina" (that's Hyginus, a classical prosaic author) - that's just one example I saw, picked at random.

    About Petronius, I found one in Horace too, but that's also not too representative (but I didn't see one in Petronius).

    My thesis is that indirectly (like the classical example I gave, or the comparison with other IE languages: that the IndoeEuropean interrogative substantival pronoun "who" wasn't felt semantically bound to any gender - certainly not in my language or in Ancient Greek) it will always be better supported. L&S sometimes makes some pronouncements, but we have to take into account that in the controversial questions it's an older source based on older readings/older critical editions + the authors of L&S didn't even do a new reading, but compiled/recycled older dictionaries (unlike OLD), making the L&S even much much older than it already is, so I wouldn't necessarily bet my money on that in the sensitive questions.

    I'm backing up a bit at the moment, but my instinct tells me that more we look into it (deeper those short bits dedicated to it in the dictionaries) more we see the quis tendency for both, I would think you won't find probably anything else but what you have already, but that I might find something if I really start searching... (my guess). Also, I still believe that Oerberg was just overkilling it there, trying to teach the gender everywhere it was even slightly possible (my opinion).
    Last edited by Godmy, Jan 15, 2018
  16. Godmy A Monkey

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    Perhaps make a new thread? :) Just a suggestion.

    But I have no idea^
  17. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    I don't think that example is relevant, either, because masculus is there too, and we know that when talking about mixed-gender groups, Latin defaults to the masculine, so there's no question that the masculine was the only option here, and quae would have been wrong.

    But (again) I'm not saying quis can't be feminine. It definitely can, e.g. Plautus: Dic mihi, quaeso, quis ea est, quam vis ducere uxorem? or Sed haec quis mulier est?

    What I'm saying is that quae can be used this way too, and it isn't right to say that Oerberg was making a mistake or "overkilling it".

    For example, there's the Plautus passage that Dantius quoted above, quae fuit mater tua? very similar to Oerberg's sentence.

    Here's the Petronius example I mentioned: longe accersere fabulas coepi sciscitarique, quae esset mulier illa quae huc atque illuc discurreret. Vxor, inquit, Trimalchionis, Fortunata appellatur...

    So far, we haven't found (and I can't remember) any example of either construction in Cicero, so we can't be sure which one he would have preferred. On the other hand, all examples of feminine (not mixed-gender) quis we've found have been in ante-classical Latin; one of quae is in more-or-less-classical Latin, if we consider the period it was written (Petronius), and a couple are in ante-classical (Plautus and Terence). One thing is sure: both constructions occur.
    Last edited by Pacifica, Jan 12, 2018
  18. Godmy A Monkey

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    Or because "quis" itself has semantically a sense of a mixed-gender group / a mixed-gender pronoun. That's my take on it (or both can be true at the same time).

    And I'm not saying that substantive quae doesn't exist, but what I'm saying is that, considering some general IE trends and quis having this sense of a "mixed-gender" pronoun, it might have been just a fleeting trend (something non-default in the IE [Greek, Slavic] or Italic languages) that might have exhibited itself in a certain stage of Latin but not later. But the rarity of this context, Roman authors asking about females (that itself is rare by the context of the age and stuff written about in the classical Latin) give little data to work with

    I really think he was, because it was taught in the same time when the gender distinction was taught and maybe if he mentioned both "quis" with feminine and "quae" I could see him somehow seeing the problem in making a norm (because Oerberg in respect to the new students in that chapter teaches for them "the norm", the "distinctions" that the students need to understand and do: the book is understood as "normative" - there needs to be no argument about that) is problematic from the said reasons.

    Since we don't have then exactly clear data on neither to say what the norm is (whether one or the other, whether one more than the other or whether both in the same amount) we have to work with hypotheses based on a more indirect evidence than we would wish. For example in Czech if I don't use the word for "who" [which has the same root as the Latin one] for feminine but I use the one for "which", it is possible in a colloquial speech, but it is felt as colloquial. And here you see it in Plautus and Petronius (a similar case). While at least etymologically and somehow indirectly we have no clear evidence that "quis" could be assessed the same way: that the original etymological sense of the word was surely that it can be equally applied for both genders without any bias, so there I wouldn't say the same (given that we have to hypothesise on what the norm is), then I would further hypothesise that it rather seems as a colloquial trend. But should Oerberg prefer that when teaching the norm? You might say that he doesn't teach the norm, but from the point of the student or any user of the book: yes he does - in that point, the way he does it. And again, a norm is something which has a preference no matter the language register or which has the preference in a higher amount. Oerberg teaches gender distinctions there and he includes "quae" as a counterpart of "quis", tacitly communicating the message to the beginners that "quis" used for the feminine breaks the rule he's just explaining in the very chapter. That the gender must be distinguished morphologically no matter what.

    Again, my hypothesis, but since there is nothing else we can do here but to hypothesise (base this on a very indirect evidence as I just did), we then have to assess the probability of the competing hypotheses.

    I would like to do my own reading of most of the instances in corpus and try to do some assessment from it, to see if I can find something more for either, but I gather that would take a lot of work and lots of time.

    I'm sorry for the initial emotional response, but considering the hypotheses about a norm that Oerberg really tries to teach in a very early chapter explaining the fundaments of the language (without mentioning the second as viable) I do think that that is rather an erroneous move than not.
    Last edited by Godmy, Jan 15, 2018
  19. Jandar New Member

    Quae est enim civitas? omnisne conventus etiam ferorum et immanium? omnisne
    etiam fugitivorum ac latronum congregata unum in locum multitudo? Certe negabis.

    (Cicero, Paradoxa Stoicorum, 4, 27)
  20. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    That isn't quite relevant, because quae there doesn't mean "who (what woman)".
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