Distinguishing Double Questions

A&G have a note that carefully differentiates the double questions from a similar alternative—questions featuring the particles aut or vel / -ve. Let’s look at this distinction.

  • I ask whether he acted unjustly or dishonestly: quaerō num iniūstē aut improbē fēcerit.
  • I ask whether he acted unjustly or dishonestly: quaerō utrum iniūstē an improbē fēcerit. 

In the first question, there are two options on the table, neither of which are necessarily true. It may be that he acted neither unjustly nor dishonestly. In the double question (the second example), it is clear that he either acted unjustly or dishonestly. We have to pick one.

I don’t really like A&G’s example, so here’s another:

  • I ask whether she likes cats or dogs: quaerō num felēs aut canēs amet.
  • I ask whether she like cats or dogs: quaerō utrum felēs an canēs amet.

In the first of these two questions, we know nothing about this girl. We’re merely curious about whether she like animals. We might expect our respondent to say something such as, ‘no, she likes birds.’ In the second example, we asking whether she’s a cat-person or a dog-person, assuming she’s either one of the other.

(For cat-person Latinists, see the Bestiaria Latina Blog.)

These two types of questions are identical in written English, and differentiable only in stress pattern. In the first question, we would stress ‘ask.’ In the second question, we would stress ‘cats’ and ‘dogs.’

The Essential A&G: 335n.

Double Questions

Double Questions, AKA Alternative Questions, are yes-no inquiries, or more broadly, questions with a defined set of responses.

  • How many jelly beans are on the table? (Question)
  • Did you see him at the pool hall? (Double Question)
  • Did you see Juan, Julio or Fernando in the pool hall? (Double Question)

In English, we design double questions with the auxiliary ‘do/did/have + past participle,’ but in Latin, we design double questions with a pair of interrogative particles.

  • Utrum or -ne will stand in the first-word position (-ne is an enclitic ending for the first word)
  • An, anne (or) will stand in the second-word position
  • Annōn or necne (or not) will stand in the final-word position

Some examples:

  • Is it that you don’t know, if turtles can fly: utrum nescīs, an testūdinēs volāre possint? 
  • Did you desert Lucius Domitius, or did Domitius desert you: vōsne L. Domitium an vōs Domitius deseruit?
  • Shall I speak with Gabinius, or Pompey or both: Gabīniō dīcam anne Pompeiō an utrīque?
  • I ask, are these your words or not: quaerō, sint haec tua verba necne?

Note that in the third example, we see anne, which is actually quite rare. In the fourth, we see necne within an indirect question, where is it far more common than in a direct question. Also, note that the third and fourth questions feature an omission of the first of two particles, which is a fairly common omission.

Where an stands alone in the first position, we get a jolt of indignation or surprise:

  • Are you getting your hair dyed or not: an comās tingis annōn?!

The Essential A&G: 335

Verbs of Permitting / Clauses of Purpose

Verbs of permitting will take either a Substantive Clause of Purpose (ut/nē + subjunctive) or an Infinitive.

  • He permitted them to make toys: permīsit ut facerent lūdibria.
  • He did not allow tents to be pitched: tentōria statuī nōn passus est.
  • She will allow you to pass: concēdet perīre.
  • They do not allow the importation of wine: vinum importārī nōn sinunt.

After writing this post, I realized that I’ve already discussed permission constructions, external to my ongoing analysis of A&G on Clauses of Purpose. Take a look at my older post for comparison.

https://latinforaddicts.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/ne-allow-me/

The Essential AG: 563c

Substantive Clauses of Purpose (p1)

To understand the distinction between a substantive clause and a relative clause, follow this link.

Of substantive clauses, those that take the subjunctive have two central uses:

  • To express purpose
  • To describe results

Both such clauses either take ut or (where the purpose/results are negative).

  • He warns him to avoid all suspicious activities: monet ut omnēs suspīciōnēs vītet.
  • I beg that you aid her: tē rogō ut eam iuvēs.
  • He persuades them to leave: persuādet ut abeant.
  • He orders his men not to return: suīs imperāvit nē redeant.

A few things to note in the examples above:

  • The third phrase would look identical as either a substantive clause of purpose or result. One must use context to determine whether he is in the process of persuading them to leave, or whether he has already achieved this result.
  • The verbs that take substantive clauses may also take secondary objects (I beg you; He orders them) in any case except the nominative.

Substantive Clauses of Purpose are used with a variety of verbs and verbal phrases to denote actions that have future/planned directive. Such as:

  • (id) agō, agere, ēgī, actum, I do it (so that)
  • censeō, censēre, censuī, censum, I think, suppose, judge, recommend
  • ēdīcō, ēdīcere, ēdīxī, ēdictum, I publish, decree
  • mandō, mandāre, mandāvī, mandātum, I order, command
  • precor, precārī, precātus sum, I beg, pray

In general, verbs of admonishing, asking, bargaining, commanding, decreeing, determining, permitting, persuading, resolving, urging and wishing are apt to take an ut/nē substantive clause of purpose. For a fuller list, see A&G 563 fn1.

In poetry, don’t be surprised to find an infinitive clause standing as a substitute for the substantive. There are also more common prose variations for particular verbs and verbal phrases under this general heading, which I’ll sort through in coming posts.

The Essential AG: 563

Yes and No Questions

Summary of -ne, Nōnne and Num

Origin of -ne

ne began with the force of nōnne (v.i.), expecting a yes response, but later “the negative force was lost and -ne was used merely to express a question” (AG, 332c N1)

Summary of Use

The enclitic -ne is attached to the emphatic word of a question, making the question a yes-no proposition.

When nōnne appears (viz. nōn ne), the force of the question expects a yes response

When the particle num appears, the force of the question expects a no response

Basic Uses

-ne

  • Did she fear that: eane id veritus est?
  • Does she seem to fear death or pain: ea mortemne vedētur aut dolōrem timēre?

Nōnne

  • Do you no observe: nōnne anamadvertis?

Num

  • Is there any doubt: num dubium est?

Advanced Notes on -ne

Occasionally, yes-no propositions are given without –ne

These are often ironic questions

  • Do you not feel that your schemes are revealed: patēre tua cōnsilia nōn sentīs?

Often, when –ne is attached directed to the verb, it shares the expectation of nōnne, a yes response

  • Do you not recall [what] I said in the Senate: meministīne mē in sentātū dicere?

ne may participate in double questions, where -ne…an should be translated as or

  • I ask whether slaves or free: quaerō servōsne an liberōs.

In poetry, -ne…-ne sometimes occurs, and should be translated whether…or.

The compounds anne…an and necne are rare alternatives

  • Shall I talk to Gabinius, or Pompey, or both: Gabīniō dīcam anne Pompeiō an utrīque?
  • Are these your words or not: sunt haec tua verba necne?

The enclitic –ne is scanned short in Latin poetry

The Essential AG: 332a-b

Famous Phrase: Num negāre audēs? Quid tacēs? (Do you dare deny it? Why are you silent?) [Cicero, In Catilinam, 1.4]

yesno_grammar.pdf