BMCR 2008.02.42

Praedicativa II. Esquemas de complementación verbal en griego antiguo y en Latín. Monografías de Filología Latina, 15

, Praedicativa II : esquemas de complementación verbal en griego antiguo y en latín. Monografías de filología latina, 15. Zaragoza: Área de Filología Latina, Departamento de Ciencias de la Antigüedad, Universidad de Zaragoza, 2007. 289 pages ; 24 cm.. ISBN 8477338930 €25.00 (pb).

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

Praedicativa II is a collection of papers on Greek and Latin linguistics which operate in the framework of functional-typological grammar. It is a sequel to Praedicativa, published in 2003.1 The authors are based in various Spanish universities: Madrid (Autónoma and Complutense), Santiago de Compostela, Alcalá, and Salamanca; all of them are well aware of recent work in general linguistics. Although both Ancient Greek and Latin are mentioned in the title, the overall approach is not comparative, as most of the papers discuss phenomena attested in either one of the two languages. Occasionally, examples from other languages are discussed; Spanish translations are regularly given.

Before commenting on the contents, a word on language choice. All the papers are in Spanish, the use of which, despite its globally important status, is diminishing in linguistics. To accommodate “Spanishless” readers, English summaries are included. However, in order to increase the impact of the work, the style of the summaries should be as lucid and polished as possible, which is not always the case in this collection. An unclear summary makes it improbable that a reader who is less of a polyglot would make the effort to approach the paper itself.

The Introductory chapter contains two essential lists which help the reader to put the papers in their scholarly context: (1) the semantic macrofunctions (Actor, Affected, Indirect), which provide the basis for (2) the list of semantic functions used in the volume. This way, the work attains greater coherence; in a collection of papers, one would otherwise expect the authors to use slightly different lists of semantic functions.

Three of the articles, those by Antonio R. Revuelta, M. Esperanza Torrego, and Jesús de la Villa, discuss larger groups of verbs, or focus on certain types of complementation. Revuelta presents a very useful analysis of the verbal compounds with συν in Greek. This work contributes to our understanding of how a certain morphological component influences syntax. The author groups the predicate frames of all such verbs into four classes according to the semantic functions of the constituents.

The next article, by Torrego, is a discussion of the Latin verbs “of seeing” (or, to be accurate, those which correspond to the Spanish ‘ver’). The verbs involved are video, specto, tueor and the derivates, cerno, as well as the verbs in -spicio. The author modifies the earlier analyses by using a functional approach to analyze the data.

The only paper which uses both the Greek and the Latin corpora as its material is de la Villa’s concise discussion on the syntactic status of what is referred to as the “internal constituent”. This term includes both the “internal object” (e.g., iter ire, accusative) and the “internal instrument” (e.g., ludo ludere, ablative in Latin, dative in Greek). The author argues that only the constituents in the accusative can be considered as obligatory constituents (arguments), and the “internal instruments” should rather be seen as non-obligatory (satellites). This point is interesting and requires further study. De la Villa also proposes that, even if the valency of some of the verbs used in this construction is variable, a single predicate frame could be used.

The subject of two papers is the verb ‘be’. Both Greek and Latin are covered, by Mercédes Díaz de Cerio and Concepción Cabrillana, respectively. Díaz de Cerio discusses the constructions of εἶναι with the dative in Greek. Here the focus is on two-term predications such as ἔστι σοι ἀγρός; (“Do you have a farm?”), which are traditionally labelled as being possessive. The three-term instances (with ὄνομα, etc.) and the uses in which the dative is “sympathetic” are excluded from the discussion. In addition to the work conducted in Greek linguistics, Díaz de Cerio has also taken into consideration recent typological studies of possession.2 After arguing that the verb εἶναι must be interpreted in such constructions as existential, as claimed by most of previous scholarship, Díaz de Cerio considers whether the dative NP (Noun Phrase) should be described as an obligatory or an optional constituent of the verb. After a scrutiny of each point in favour of the first option, she chooses the second, pointing out that an optional constituent has been added to an existential predication (p. 82).3 This may be true diachronically, but taking the construction as it stands, in my view, the dative NP could also be interpreted as an obligatory constituent. In other words, one could argue that the construction has differentiated from the “pure” existential construction. Nevertheless, to establish this in a convincing way, more research is needed on the pragmatics of this construction. Finally, the author analyzes the semantic function of the NP in the dative (e.g., σοι) which she defines as Receiver / Beneficiary.

In the other contribution on the verb ‘be’, Cabrillana looks at the Latin sum and its ellipsis. Her discussion moves towards more general considerations on the ellipsis of verbs in Latin. This leads her to discover some interesting similarities between the behavior of sum and other verbs.

Verbs which indicate sentiments are discussed in two papers by José Miguel Baños and Maria Dolores Jiménez López. Baños discusses the Latin verbs gaudeo and laetor. According to Cicero ( Tusc. 4.13), the meanings of these two verbs were slightly different: gaudeo expressed an internal joy, whereas laetor conveyed an exhibition of joy. The author compares the analysis of the TLL to actual data in a corpus which includes writers from Plautus to Aulus Gellius, and he tries to establish which constructions are particularly productive. These are the nominal complement in the ablative and the clausal complement, AcI. Baños also claims, quite convincingly, that the “absolute” uses of these verbs, extensively discussed in the TLL, are insignificant, and that there is no reason to suppose the existence of two separate predicate frames for the verbs.

Jiménez López analyzes the Greek verb φοβέω”to terrify” / φοβέομαι”to be afraid”. In the classical period, the middle forms were much more common. Jiménez López presents the various predicate frames in a lucid way. It is interesting to note that the verb is not used in passive in the Classical corpus; the author explains convincingly why this is the case.

The remaining papers are each dedicated to one or two verbs. For example, Agustín Ramos offers a thought-provoking discussion of the Latin verb dicere. Taking into consideration the words derived from the same root in other IE languages, Ramos suggests that dicere may originally have been a causative, and that a language Instrumental was later incorporated into it. This position seems rather convincing.4

Julián Mendez Dosuna compares in an interesting way the Greek verb ἁλίσκομαι and λαμβάνομαι, the passive voice of λαμβάνω. The first of these verbs is intransitive, with meanings like “to fall into a trap”, “to fall prey”, and “to be convicted”. The two can have fairly similar meanings, which is visible even in the constructions of the verbs, which sometimes have mutual interference. The author then looks at constructions like γράμματα ἑάλωσαν εἰς Ἀθήνας, and explains them nicely using semantic terms.

Eusebia Tarriño tackles the Latin verbs suadeo and persuadeo. They are trivalent verbs of manipulation according to T. Givón’s classification.5 Tarriño distinguishes between the manipulative and the causative use of persuadeo. The discussion follows the structure of a recent analysis of the corresponding Greek verb, conducted by M. D. Jiménez López.6

One distracting factor in this volume is that it contains some puzzling misprints, notably in the English summaries, e.g., “hyperonimus”, or “SN” (the Romance for “N(oun) P(hrase)”). Some letters are printed over each other (e.g., pp. 216-17) and may cause the reader to be confused. Furthermore, why are the two different systems of indicating the Greek minuscule sigma used in the same paper, in the quotations from the same author (p. 203)?

Many of the papers in Praedicativa II start by presenting how the verbs are discussed and categorized in principal dictionaries. The authors then point out that the lexica provide little information about the statistics of the different meanings and constructions, and that they tend to give ample room to rare phenomena. This is true: such information should be included in the grammar, and the authors of this volume indeed contribute to such a grammar. Generally, the discussions are succinct enough. Still, one would have hoped that this team of scholars would have endeavored to produce a more comprehensive publication on the complementation of Greek and Latin verbs, starting with, e.g., T. Givón’s classification of verbs (see note 5). In any case, the papers and their bibliographies confirm that active and extensive Greek and Latin linguistic research is taking place in Spain. Together with Praedicativa, the two volumes are a useful resource.


Introducción, 5-9

José Miguel Baños, “Estructuras predicativas de los verbos de sentimiento en latín (I): La complementación nominal de gaudeo y laetor“, 11-37

Concepción Cabrillana, “La elipsis verbal: Un rasgo diferenciador de sum ?”, 39-67

Mercédes Díaz de Cerio, “Las construcciones de εἶναι con dativo en griego antiguo”, 69-90

Maria Dolores Jiménez López, “Voz, diátesis y marco predicativo en griego antiguo: φοβέω / φοβέομαι”, 91-120

Julián Mendez Dosuna, “Esquemas de complementación de ἁλίσκομαι y λαμβάνομαι en griego clásico (con especial atención a las coordenadas espacio-temporales)”, 121-49

Agustín Ramos, “La complementación de dicere. Sobre causatividad, incorporación de instrumento y metalenguaje”, 151-78

Antonio R. Revuelta, “Morfología y sintaxis: Los compuestos verbales de συν en griego antiguo”, 179-209

Eusebia Tarriño, “Sobre la construcción de suadeo y persuadeo“, 211-32

M. Esperanza Torrego, “Esquemas de complementación de los verbos de ‘ver’ en latín”, 233-64

Jesús de la Villa, “Sobre los complementos internos y el marco predicativo”, 265-72.


1. Praedicativa. Complementación en griego y latín. Edición a cargo de J. M. Baños Baños, C. Cabrillana Leal, M. E. Torrego Salcedo, J. de la Villa Polo. Verba, Anexo 53. Santiago de Compostela: Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 2003.

2. C. Kahn, The verb ‘be’ in Ancient Greek, Amsterdam 1973; K. Kulneff-Eriksson, On ‘have’ in Ancient Greek, Lund 1999 (on which see H. Dik, BMCR 1999.11.25); B. Heine, Possession. Cognitive Sources, Forces, and Grammaticalization, Cambridge 1997.

3. Here, the author’s reference to Scherer’s Handbuch der lateinischen Syntax (missing in her bibliography), 126, is not relevant for the Greek construction.

4. On the later phases of the complementation of dicere and other verbs in Latin, Middle French and beyond, see now S. Hakulinen, La complémentation du verbe en moyen français et en français moderne. Étude diachronique sur la base d’un corpus parallèle de traductions, Tampere 2007.

5. T. Givón, Syntax. An Introduction, Rev. ed., Vol. I, Amsterdam 2001, 151-52.

6. M. D. Jiménez López, “Persuadir en griego: el marco predicativo de πείθω”, in Word Classes and Related Topics in Ancient Greek (eds. E. Crespo et al.), Louvain-la-Neuve 2006, 163-91.