Intensified Verb Variants

The verbal stem –essō (rarely -issō) may be grafted onto existing verbs to denote a certain energy or eagerness of action (though not necessarily repetition.)

  • Capiō (take) —> capessō (snatch)
  • Faciō (do) —> facessō (do eagerly)
  • Petō (seek) —> petissō (look frantically for)

Declension of such verbs is usually third declension for present and infinitive, but fourth declension for perfect and supine.

  • Capessō, capessere, capessīvī, capessītum
  • Petissō, petissere, petissīvī, petissītum

This is somehow related to the rare variant of the future perfect stem -āssō.

  • amāssis (for ameris)
  • although these forms are so rare that there’s no complete declension of any one verb in this form in all extant Latin literature, fragmentary appearances suggest that these too would follow the third (present, infinitive) / fourth (perfect, supine) pattern

The Essential AG: 183.5, 263.2b, 236.2bn

It Escapes Many

The impersonal latet (from the sans-passive lateō, latēre, latuī, —) takes either an accusative or a dative in prose and poetry. The accusative is the more common form.

  • It escapes me: mē latet.
  • Most people are unaware: plērōs latet.
  • She doesn’t know yet: eī adhuc latet.

Lateō can also be used impersonally, with the same variation in form:

  • Rome lies safe from enemies: Rōma hostibus latet.
  • The escaped songbirds elude their keepers: passērēs vāgī custōdēs latent.

In practice, a direct object isn’t always necessary.

  • The finest things remain unseen: pulcherrima latent.

(And yep, this word is related to λανθάνω)

The Essential AG: 388cn1, 396c, 396cn

The Latin Syllabe

Latin syllables are numbered according to the separate vowels and diphthongs within a word.

a-ci-ē (3), fī-li-us (3), etc.

A consonant is generally contained within the unit of a following vowel, except where there is a double consonant, since paired consonants are always separated, or where a consonant ends a word.

pa-ter (2), in-iū-ri-a (4), mit-tō (2)

(Not that is a semi-consonantal glide pairing, where the i is sounded as the English y.)

This rule becomes trickier with double consonants: what do we do with dixit? (dix-it or di-xit?)

  • A&G prefer dix-it, but acknowledge there is no hard and fast rule. Like the corresponding Greek ξ, this word would have been sounded as dic-sit, so it’s really a matter of preference where you put the double consonant.
  • Luckily, the double consonants, sd and ps, are much rarer in Latin

Note the distinction between a

  • Any syllable founding with a vowel or diphthong is open.
  • Any syllable ending with a consonant is closed.

In compounds, the rules are modified a little to mark the separation of compounded parts.

du-plex (2) instead of dup-lex (2) [it’s not clear to me whether this is a matter of A&G convention, or broader Latin phonological patterns of pronunciation.]

The Essential AG: 7, 7a-b

How to Decline Pater Familiās?

What’s the genitive of pater familiās? Is it pater familiātis? patris familiātis?

Actually, it’s patris familiās.

The second word, familiās is an archaic partitive genitive, so it’s not declined.

  • pater/patris/patrī/patrem/patre/patrēs,etc. familiās.

However, if we’re discussing the father of many families…

  • pater/patris,etc. familiārum

The Essential AG: 43b

Short ‘i’ in Fīō

As I discussed in the last post, certain forms of fīō feature a short i instead of the usual long. I thought there would be a long and complicated phonological history to tell, but it turns out fīō is just following a few phonological rules that we already know.

Long vowels before final m, r and t are shortened.

  • amō, amās, amat
  • amem, amēs, amet
  • amer, amēris, amētur
  • so also fīō, fīs, fit

The second rule is more exclusive to fīō, but follows a consistent pattern: the ī is shortened before -er.

  • fierem, fierēs, fieret; fierī

The Essential AG: 603.3, 606.3a

Compounds of Fīō

Compounds of faciō vary between passives in -fīō and passives in -ficior. The distinction? Check the vowel a (faciō) in the compound. In the rare case that this is retain in the compound, then –fīō is also retained.

benefaciō, benefacere, benefēcī, benefactum (in place of the expected beneficio/ficere/fēcī/fectum, and hence the English ‘benefaction’ but also ‘infection.’)

  • benefīō, benefierī, benefactus sum

Several of the faciō compounds that feature -ficiō/-ficior forms will also feature passive -fīō forms, with separate meanings.

  • cōnfit, it happens
  • dēfit, it lacks
  • īnfit, he beings (to speak)
  • interfit, he perishes
  • superfit, there remains

The Essential AG: 204b-c

Fīō

In place of a passive form [facior], Latin makes use of fīō, fierī, factus sum.

  • Note that both the ī and the ō are long, which distinguishes fīō from similar – verbs, where the i is short
  • Note that A&G get very prescriptive about the proper forms of fīō, and whereas they distinguish between those forms which appear in “good” prose from those which appear in (“bad”?) prose, we will make no such distinction here.

Picture 1

photo credit: Wiktionary

Note a few variations: the long vowel on ī is present in present in most places, but absent in fit, fierem, and fierī.

The Essential AG: 204

Faciō

The essential verb faciō, facere, fēcī, factum, is generally regular, though features a few variant forms you may not have known, and a distinct set of rules for compounds which you may have always ‘sensed’ but never understood.

Exceptional Features

The two exceptional features of faciō are its imperative singular (just the fac, ma’am—not face, which sounds like a Canadian swearing), and its passive forms, derived from fīō (to be discussed in a later post).

Faciō also features a variant future perfect faxō (in place of the more common fēcerō) and a variant perfect subjunctive faxim (in place of the more common fēcerim).

Compound Rules

Compounds of faciō (i) replace a with i and (ii) replace the supine -actum with –ectum, and while retaining the -iō declension, sometimes they feature passive forms that are not derived from fīō.

  • cōnficiō, cōnficere, cōnfēcī, cōnfectum (finish)
  • cōnficior, cōnficī, cōnfectus sum (die) [but note that ‘ficior’ is not a word!]
  • afficiō, afficere, affēcī, affectum (affect)
  • afficior, afficī, affectus sum (be affected
  • inficiō, inficere, infēcī, infectum (dye, poison)
  • inficior, inficī, infectus sum (be poisoned)

Relation to PIE

For those interested in the topic discussed in the last post, the Latin faciō is derived from the PIE dʰeh₁, which also produced τίθημι, do, and (the German) tun.

The Essential AG: 204, 204a

Greek and Latin Comparatives

There is a certain kinship between Greek and Latin (a) comparative and (b) superlative forms, as well as between (c) a particular branch of Latin positive adjectives and Greek comparatives.

To recall your knowledge of positives, comparatives, and superlatives in each language, let’s view  a few examples:

  • Dark, darker, darkest
  • niger, nigrior, nigerrimus
  • μέλας, μελάντερος, μελάντατος
  • Big, bigger, biggest
  • magnus, maior, maximus
  • μέγας, μείζων, μεγίστος
  • Dear, dearer, dearest
  • cārus, cārior, cārissimus
  • φίλος, φιλότερος, φιλότατος
  • Sweet, sweeter, sweetest
  • suavis, suavior, suavissimus
  • ἡδύς, ἥδιος, ἥδιστος

I struggle here to explain the precise interrelations between the various forms above, because A&G are quite tight-lipped about the matter (everything in this post is drawn from two far-disparate footnotes). However, we see a certain kinship between:

  • the Latin comparative (n.) -ius [e.g. nigrior (m/f), nigrius (n)] and the Greek -ίων [e.g. μείων (smaller, less)]
  • the Latin superlative –issimus [suavissimus] and the Greek -ιστος [ἥδιστος]

(these ^^ are also both relative to the English superlative [e.g. sweetest])

  • the Latin positive –ter (ater, atra, atrum) and the Greek -τερος (φιλότερος)

I think that last one is a bit of a stretch, so don’t shoot the messenger (of AG 214bn), but shoot me a comment if you disagree either with their claim or with my reading of their claim, and explain why.

The Essential AG: 124n1, 214bn

Our Latin Kin

Not all relations between Latin and English counterparts may be described as derivation. There are a few genuine parallels that stem from a more distant common relation (proto-Indo-European). With these words, Latin is less a mother or grandmother, and more of a cousin.

As we can imagine, this kind of relationship features more striking variations in phonetic form than direct derivation. As Latin and (what A&G call) Primitive Germanic began to undergo separate consonantal and vowel shifts, their PIE derivations took on similar yet distinct forms, which eventually conformed to distinct phonological rules in each family of languages.

(*ph₂tḗr) —> pater / father

(*bʰer) —> ferō / bear, frater / brother

(*dwṓu) —> duo / two, (dēns) dentis / tooth

(*h₁rew) —> ruber / red

(*h₂wḗh) —> ventus / wind

(*sneygʷʰ) —> nive / snow

(*ǵʰans) —> ānser / goose

For those interested, you’ll find a larger list in A&G (19). There are some general phonological rules we see emerging: the aspirated b of PIE becomes Lain f/b and English f/b/v, the aspirated d of PIE becomes Latin f/b/d but in English only d, etc.

The Essential AG: 18, 19