Future paradigms in Latin : pesky anomaly or sophisticated technique?

Author: Zheltova, Elena
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2020, vol. 25, iss. 1, pp. 211-223
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
The article deals with paradigms of the future simple (3rd and 4th conjugations only) and the future perfect active that can be treated as anomalous since they form the first person singular and other forms by adding different suffixes to the verbal stem. This entails, first, a certain heterogeneity within the paradigms and, second, a partial overlapping of these paradigms with two other verbal paradigms. Although attempts to unify the future simple and future perfect paradigms were made by archaic authors, Classical Latin has preserved this "inconvenient" distinction, presumably, to highlight the first person singular. The question arises as to why Latin sought to single out the first person singular in this particular way. I will explain this phenomenon as a manifestation of language egocentrism. I will argue that the forms under consideration may function as egocentric devices. Since Latin is a pro-drop language, it requires special means to highlight the speaker as the most significant speech act participant and to give him/ her a privileged status with respect to the other speech act participants. Thus, by using an -am form, the speaker received an additional opportunity to express some modal values better than the other participants did, while with the -ero form, the speaker, conversely, could express his/her thoughts more definitely or unambiguously. In both cases, the singling out of the first person locutor seems to be much more significant for the language as a communicative system than the unified character of the paradigms. The argument is based on an analysis of examples from the works of Latin authors as well as comparative material from other languages.
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