Use of an adverb within a catenative clause.

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
By what means is the qualified verb within a catenative construction made clear? More specifically, I am wondering how one should write a catenative clause including an adverb, so as to ensure clarity with respect to which verb the adverb is modifying. As a general rule in Latin, an adverb immediately precedes the verb that it qualifies (of course, we all know what happens with respect to "general rules" in the hands of a writer like, for instance, Cicero). Does that general rule fully provide the rationale for this, or are there other ways to make which clausal verb is being qualified by the adverb clear? For instance, if I were to write Amo profunde cogitare, is it entirely clear from the fact that profunde immediately precedes cogitare, that I intend to say "I love to think deeply", as opposed to "I profoundly love to think"? What other considerations, if there are any, may apply to this concern? Thanks much.
 
Last edited:

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
I ask this, because A&G discusses adverbs within indefinite clauses, substantive clauses and temporal clauses, but apparently not within clauses containing verbal catenatives. Another way to phrase my question is: how should one place the adverb in a catenative construction if one wants it to qualify the catenative verb (or matrix verb, or main verb) of the clause, and how if one wants it to qualify the subordinate verb (the verb in the infinitive)? And for that matter, what position should the verbs themselves have with respect to one another in the sentence as a whole? Any guidance that I can have with respect to this will be appreciated.
 
Last edited:

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
an adverb immediately precedes the verb that it qualifies
It does not always, but statistically speaking it tends to, and even more especially where there might be ambiguity.

In a situation where two verbs are involved, the adverb will usually come either before the verb it modifies, or after it if the other verb comes earlier. There can be exceptions if something else in the context makes it absolutely clear which verb the adverb goes with (or if the writer or speaker is being sloppy, but we don't want to be like that).
And for that matter, what position should the verbs themselves have with respect to one another in the sentence as a whole?
There isn't really any rule about this. Some will tell you that a finite verb more often comes after an infinitive, and statistically I guess that is so, but "exceptions" are so numerous as to hardly deserve the name of "exceptions".
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Thank you, Pacifica. (phew!) I was beginning to think, because of the time it took to have a response, that I had asked too dumb a question.
In a situation where two verbs are involved, the adverb will usually come either before the verb it modifies, or after it if the other verb comes earlier. There can be exceptions if something else in the context makes it absolutely clear which verb the adverb goes with (or if the writer or speaker is being sloppy, but we don't want to be like that).
May it be said as a general rule, then, that the adverb should be separated from the verb which it does not qualify as much as is possible, to the point of interposing the qualified verb in between them in the catenative "chain"; that the adverb should be proximal to the verb qualified and as distal as possible from the verb not qualified?

If one were to make a construction of the type: [subordinate/infinitive verb] [adverb] [main/catenative verb], would it be clear from the placement of the adverb, that the catenative verb is the one qualified? In a similar manner, if one were to write: [catenative verb] [adverb] [subordinate/infinitive verb], would it be understood from the placement of the adverb, that it qualifies the subordinate verb?
 
Last edited:

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
May it be said as a general rule, then, that the adverb should be separated from the verb which it does not qualify as much as is possible, to the point of interposing the qualified verb in between them in the catenative "chain"; that the adverb should be proximal to the verb qualified and as distal as possible from the verb not qualified?
Hm, I'm not sure I would say that, no. I mean, maybe it's the best thing to do if the ambiguity is strong, I don't know. However I only meant to say that it was an option, but the order non-modified verb + adverb + modified verb is usually fine too.
If one were to make a construction of the type: [subordinate/infinitive verb] [adverb] [main/catenative verb], would it be clear from the placement of the adverb, that the catenative verb is the one qualified? In a similar manner, if one were to write: [catenative verb] [adverb] [subordinate/infinitive verb], would it be understood from the placement of the adverb, that it qualifies the subordinate verb?
Yes unless it made more sense in the context to take it the other way round.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Glad to be of help!
 

Clemens

Civis Illustris
I have thought about this question before, and reading these posts, I wonder whether we might not be looking for a difference that we are projecting onto Latin from English. Would a native speaker care about the distinction?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
The distinction as to which verb the adverb goes with? Of course, at least usually (I guess there are some situations where it may not matter so much). I think any functional human brain, whatever the native language of the person, draws distinctions as to which words refer to which (at least subconsciously).
 
Last edited:

Clemens

Civis Illustris
The distinction as to which verb the adverb goes with? Of course, at least usually (I guess there are some situations where it may not matter so much). I think any functional human brain, whatever the native language of the person, draws distinctions as to which words refer to which (at least subconsciously).
I’m not suggesting that the distinction can’t be made by anyone, but that when a language fails to overtly mark such a distinction, its speakers don’t find the ambiguity distressing or problematic, if they think about it at all, other than what they might commonly understand from context. Verb adverb verb, and its varied other sequences, rely on context to sort out what goes with what, rather than discrete syntax rules, if necessary, and when ambiguity occurs, it’s accepted.
 
Last edited:

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I’m not suggesting that the distinction can’t be made by anyone, but that some languages
It looks like part of your post got lost.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Ah, I see the post has been completed.
I’m not suggesting that the distinction can’t be made by anyone, but that when a language fails to overtly mark such a distinction, its speakers don’t find the ambiguity distressing or problematic, if they think about it at all, other than what they might commonly understand from context. Verb adverb verb, and its varied other sequences, rely on context to sort out what goes with what, rather than discrete syntax rules, if necessary, and when ambiguity occurs, it’s accepted.
You're right that most of the time context is enough to determine which verb the adverb goes with anyway.

For instance, although te videre valde cupio, with valde directly before cupio, is sort of the default order for "I greatly desire to see you", valde can be moved to the beginning of the sentence for emphasis: valde te videre cupio, "Greatly do I desire to see you", "I greatly desire to see you", and it is still understood that valde goes with cupio, even though it's closer to videre, because it is what makes sense ("I greatly desire" is a common idea; "to greatly see you" is one that would hardly ever be meant). You could even have te valde videre cupio, "As for you, I greatly desire to see you",* and one would still similarly understand that valde goes with cupio despite the fact that valde here comes directly before videre, between it and its object, even. And it's like that in many cases. Yet there can still be situations where the adverb would make about equal sense with either verb, and then it's advisable to stick to a more "default" word order.

*This word order puts a distinct primary emphasis on te, indicating that it's the topic of the sentence, and then a secondary emphasis on valde.
 
Last edited:

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Re the "default", I mean there are tendencies in Latin regarding such matters of word order. Just not rigid rules.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I must say I don't really like using the word "default" when the reality is so flexible, since the use of that word may mislead people into thinking that things are almost always the way I call "default", with only rare exceptions, while in fact "exceptions" aren't rare. But hopefully you see what I mean. Just tendencies in unmarked, unemphatic, neutral utterances, where no particular nuance is being expressed...
 
Top