French: Courcelle Boethius book

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I'm working my way through a section of Pierre Courcelle's massive (and important) book on Boethius. I suspect I will have a number of questions. Here's one.

Même si Boèce emploie des tours de Platon, il [I think he means Klingner, referred to in the previous sentence] semble oiseux de chercher l’endroit précis où il les aurait puisés; car, à titre de procédés de style, ces tours montrent seulement que Boèce a lu du Platon; une ressemblance dans les terms ne prouve un emprunt proprement dit que si les mêmes terms se retrouvent à propos des mêmes faits ou des mêmes idées.

"Even if Boethius employs the turns [of phrase?] of Plato, [Klinger] appears to idly seek the precise place where [Boethius] would have borrowed them from [i.e. if Klingner's method were a valid one]; because, as processes/behaviors (?) of style, his turns [of phrase] demonstrate only that Boethius has read from Plato; a resemblance in the terms proves a borrowing properly named only if the same terms are found in relation to the same facts or the same ideas."
 

Clemens

Civis Illustris
The il in the first sentence doesn't refer to Klingner, but is the il impersonnel, which doesn't refer to anyone—it seems useless to look for. (Oiseux is probably better here as pointless or useless.)

I might translate du as some here.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Ah, I see how that works (with the il). Thanks!
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I'm also wondering why the author uses a conditional (où il les aurait puisés): it seems to me, coming from a Latin standpoint at any rate, that a subjunctive would make more sense here. Is the conditional the usual mood to use here in French?

Another example I just noticed:
"On s'est efforcé de dresser un << système de Boèce>>, dans lequel il répondrait à toute question métaphysique."
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
In the case of "il semble oiseux de chercher l’endroit précis où il les aurait puisés", you could have had the indicative, "où il les a puisés", but then it would be posited as certain that he had drawn them from somewhere, whereas "où il les aurait puisés" refers to something possible rather than certain. I can't really imagine a subjunctive there, at least not in the current language.

In the other sentence, the conditional and the subjunctive both seem possible, at first sight, but it's hard to be sure without more context.
 

Clemens

Civis Illustris
coming from a Latin standpoint at any rate
In general, subjunctive is used far less in French than it is in Latin, and usually in subordinate clauses where it is triggered by a conjunction or verb. The conditional, in its Vulgar Latin origin, was a sort of "future subjunctive," composed of an infinitive and the present subjunctive of avoir.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
The conditional, in its Vulgar Latin origin, was a sort of "future subjunctive," composed of an infinitive and the present subjunctive of avoir.
I didn't know that; that's interesting. Thanks for mentioning.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I don't see how the syntax of this sentence coheres.

Car, comme il [Klingner, I think] l'a montré avec force, les trois parties de l'hymne correspondent aux trois étapes de la <<conversion>> néo-platonicienne: proodos, epistrophe, anodos, et Boèce interprète, le Timée à l'aide du commentaire de Proclus.

"...and, with Boethius as interpreter, the Timaeus with the help of Proclus' commentary."

???
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I don't really know what the sentence is all about, but could the comma after interprète be a mistake, and thus interprète be a verb?
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I don't really know what the sentence is all about, but could the comma after interprète be a mistake, and thus interprète be a verb?
That must be it. I thought that interpréter had an acute accent in all its forms, but now I see that it changes to a grave in some forms.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
The funny thing is that I don't even pronounce "interpréter" as the accent would suggest that it should be pronounced, but as if it were "interprèter". Did this pronunciation come to be by analogy with other forms that have "è"? Maybe.
 

Quintilianus

Civis Illustris
The funny thing is that I don't even pronounce "interpréter" as the accent would suggest that it should be pronounced, but as if it were "interprèter". Did this pronunciation come to be by analogy with other forms that have "è"? Maybe.
Both pronunciations sound correct to me though I'd rather lean towards the "é" one.
 

Clemens

Civis Illustris
It's my impression that the é versus è pronunciation rules (irrespective of spelling) aren't totally valid across dialects of French (or even over time, if speaking of standard French). Do you pronounce, for example, the first syllable in words like essayer as é or è? My high school French teacher was Acadian and made these distinctions far more by the book than French people seem to, distinguishing fée and fait, for example.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
It's my impression that the é versus è pronunciation rules (irrespective of spelling) aren't totally valid across dialects of French (or even over time, if speaking of standard French).
I'm sure there's a lot of variation.
Do you pronounce, for example, the first syllable in words like essayer as é or è?
In this particular word, the latter.
distinguishing fée and fait, for example.
I pronounce those differently, too.

In "fée" for me there's some kind of long-ish "é".

In "fait" it can be "é" or "è", depending, but short in either case. When it's used as a noun I say "fè", whereas when it's used as a participle I tend to say "fé" though sometimes "fè" too.
 

Clemens

Civis Illustris
I'm sure there's a lot of variation.

In this particular word, the latter.

I pronounce those differently, too.

In "fée" for me there's some kind of long-ish "é".

In "fait" it can be "é" or "è", depending, but short in either case. When it's used as a noun I say "fè", whereas when it's used as a participle I tend to say "fé" though sometimes "fè" too.
There seem to be quite a bit of similarities between Belgian and North American French. I wonder if rural Belgian grandmothers say things like, "T'as qu'à ouère !" or "Y fait frette par icitte."
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I don't think I've heard those phrases personally, but I don't have much experience with rural Belgian grandmothers. :D
 
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