Nutshell 7. Non-finite clauses
A dependent clause (in English and other languages) is, roughly speaking, a sentence fragment that cannot stand on its own, but nevertheless contains a verb and possibly some other parts such as a subject, objects or adverbials. We have already seen dependent clauses in passing (‘I want to hear Socrates’, ‘a man speaking to a child about elephants’). Here are some more examples:
- Jacopo may write about his trumpet.
- I want Jacopo to write about his trumpet.
- I see Jacopo writing about his trumpet.
- I see/assume that Jacopo is writing about his trumpet.
- I know who is writing about a trumpet.
- I didn’t see when/why/how that happened.
Depending on the grammatical form of the verb, we distinguish non-finite and finite clauses. Non-finite clauses are formed with infinitives (‘[to] write’), gerunds (‘writing’) or participles (‘speaking, spilt’); finite clauses are introduced with conjunctions (‘that’), relative or interrogative pronouns (‘who’), or relative or interrogative adverbs (‘when, why’).
These verbs merit some discussion because they exemplify non-finite constructions, and also because their translation depends on their nominative object. To be accurate, it depends on the relationship between their nominative object and their dependent verb’s (i.e. their accusative object’s) agent:
|Verb||Gloss||Describes||Translation. Nominative object is|
|a. the same as the agent of the accusative object||b. someone else||c. undefined/irrelevant|
|opportunityà.||opportunity||opportunity, chance||I give myself the chance to …||You give me the chance to …||I can / have the opportunity to … (Ital potere)|
|allowà.||allow||permission||I allow myself to …||You allow me to …||I am allowed to / I may …|
|làxt.||want||wish||I want to …||You want me to …||People want me to …|
|Ràks.||should||recommendation, suggestion||I should … (in my opinion)||You recommend / suggest me to …||I should …|
|mustà.||must||necessity||I must / have to … (in my opinion)|
[‘A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do’]
|You tell me / order me to …||I must / have to / It is necessary for me to …|
The sender is the one who gives the opportunity, who gives/utters the permission, who utters/thinks the wish, who utters/makes the suggestion, who makes something necessary … Well, you should already have a pretty good idea of how the nominative works. The recipient of the wish, the suggestion, etc., is of course in the dative, and the wish or suggestion itself is in the accusative.
|the one who wishes something||the wish||the recipient of the wish|
However, it is often clearer to include the recipient in the accusative object, as we will see in a moment.
A long time ago we learned that infinitives and gerunds correspond to the inner factive, just like the main verb in most sentences. This comes in handy now, because we can translate the dependent verb, which is an infinitive (‘I can do …’, ‘I have to do …’), with an inner factive, and the dependent clause like a whole (finite) sentence.
(But note that the accusative object of a modal verb isn’t necessarily an action; it can also be a thing or living being as in ‘Zarathustra wants wine’).
a. The nominative object is the same as the agent of the accusative object
It is usually enough to name the nominative object of the modal verb once. Rule Six allows us, no, forces us, to omit the agent of the accusative object (who is the same person) most of the time.
|láxt zaraqyhtè dràwy.||Zarathustra wants to dance.|
|want-fact1 Zarathustra-acc-nom2a dance-fact-acc2.|
In ambiguous situations, if the agent might be someone else, we can use a pronoun.
|wantá eagleyè fondleáy vèe.||The eagle wants to fondle someone.|
|want-fact1 eagle-acc-nom2a fondle-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-nom3a.|
|wantá eagleyè fondleày vèi.||The eagle wants to be fondled.|
|want-fact1 eagle-acc-nom2a fondle-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-dat3.|
b. The nominative object is someone else
|With the eagle as the agent of the accusative object:|
|wantá zaraqyhtè flyáy eagleÌy zèU.||Zarathustra wants his eagle to fly.|
|want-fact1 Zarathustra-acc-nom2a fly-fact-acc2 eagle-acc-acc3a PIn−3-nom-ben4.|
|With the eagle as the recipient of the wish:|
|wantá zaraqyhtè eagleÌi veÚ flyày.||Zarathustra wants flying of his eagle.||Zarathustra wants his eagle to fly.|
|want-fact1 Zarathustra-acc-nom2a eagle-acc-dat2 PIn−2-nom-ben3 fly-fact-acc2.|
While the second phrasing is unambiguous in this example, it cannot in general express differences in case, as in ‘Zarathustra wants his eagle to give him something’ vs. ‘Zarathustra wants his eagle to take something from him’. A pronoun can combine the two types of phrasing if necessary.
c. The nominative object is irrelevant
The English modal verbs – ‘can/could, may/might, shall/should, will/would’ and ‘must’ – are most commonly translated like this. Since the modal verb has no other objects besides its accusative, we can easily form a compound. These constructions might remind you of the negators, which are formed the same way, and for exactly the same reason. The difference between uncompounded and compounded forms is somewhat like English ‘I would like to speak’ (a word in its own right) vs. ‘I’d speak’ (just a modifier).
|mustà speakáy zèe. ⇒ speakamustá vèe.||I must speak. It is necessary for me to speak.|
|must-fact1 speak-fact-acc2 PIn−3-nom-nom3a. ⇒ speak-fact-must-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a.|
|shouldà openày doorÌy. ⇒ openashouldà doorÌy.||Someone should open the door. The door should be opened.|
|should-fact1 open-fact-acc2 door-acc-acc3. ⇒ open-fact-should-fact1 door-acc-acc2.|
‘I’ll gladly speak’ means ‘I want to speak’, but additionally claims the reality of the speaking. So all we need is an inversion.
|wantá veè speakày.||I want to speak.|
|want-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a speak-fact-acc2.|
|⇔ speaká veè wantÌa.||(pronoun moved to first verb in sentence)||I’ll gladly speak.|
|speak-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a want-acc-fact2.|
Note the parallelism to the adverbial adjective in ‘He behaves strangely’. That sentence was translated with exactly the same pattern of cases – most importantly a factive bracket –, although we arrived there by a different reasoning. This is also a good example of how to confer reality: while the inversion puts the wanting below the speaking (at second level, that is), the bracket in the inverted sentence makes sure that the wanting is still asserted.
As we have seen, there is only one difference between a dependent clause and a whole sentence in Lemizh. The dependent clause is, well, dependent. Recall that the agent of the dependent clause has to be omitted if it is known from the main clause.
|televisioná amelÌi.||Amélie is watching television.|
|wantá veè televisionáy amelÌi.||I want Amélie to watch television.|
|want-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a.|
|shouldà televisionáy amelÌi. ⇒ televisionashouldá amelÌi.||Amélie should watch television.|
|should-fact1 television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a. ⇒ television-fact-should-fact1 Amélie-acc-dat2a.|
|decideíl amelyè televisionày.||Amélie has decided to watch television.|
|decide-cons1 Amélie-acc-nom2a television-fact-acc2.|
As mentioned above (construction b), Lemizh sentences are often clearer and easier to phrase if certain elements (‘Amélie’ in the above examples) are considered part of the dependent clause rather than the main clause. Translations on the lines of wantá veè amelyì televisionày. are possible but can be ambiguous.
You surely have noticed that not all examples translate with a full (‘to’) infinitive. This is due to irregularities of English grammar – some verbs want the full, others the bare infinitive. It does not make any difference in Lemizh.
Gerund clauses translate just like infinitives. Again, the difference is only in English grammar.
|televisioná amelÌi.||Amélie is watching TV.|
|seeà [veì] televisionáy amelÌi.||I see Amélie watching TV. Amélie is seen watching TV.|
|see-fact1 [PIn−2-nom-dat2] television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a.|
English gerunds can (like nouns) be modified by adjectives and possessive attributes, or (like verbs) by adverbs, subjects and objects – making no difference in Lemizh. We have already encountered a similar situation when we talked about the genitive case: ‘the man’s gift’ (possessive attribute of a noun) = ‘The man gives’ (subject of a verb).
|helpanà runàe fastÌa.||Fast running / Running quickly didn’t help.|
|help-fact-not-fact1 run-fact-nom2 fast-acc-fact3.|
Differences between infinitives and gerunds
Sometimes English uses the gerund to express a difference to the infinitive. This can affect person …
|likeà veè danceáy vèy.||I like to dance. / I like dancing. [my dancing]|
|like-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 dance-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-acc3a.|
|likeà veè danceáy gwÌy.||I like dancing. [watching someone dance]|
|like-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 dance-fact-acc2 any-acc-acc3a.|
… inner case (typically factive vs. affirmative) …
|forgetà speakày planÌy zèU.||She forgot the action of telling me her plans.||She forgot to tell me her plans.|
|forget-fact1 speak-fact-acc2 plan-acc-acc3 PIn−3-nom-ben4.|
|forgetà speakàly planÌy zèU.||She forgot the fact of telling me her plans.||She forgot telling me her plans.|
|forget-fact1 speak-aff-acc2 plan-acc-acc3 PIn−3-nom-ben4.|
… outer case (a different object, in other words) …
|tryà shoutày.||She tried to shout [but this was difficult because of her sore throat].|
|tryà shoutànu.||She tried shouting [as he hadn’t heard her when she had spoken quietly].|
… or something else, depending on the main predicate. In other words: don’t memorise, analyse.
Keep in mind that you need not express the differences if they are irrelevant or clear from context.
Participial clauses have already been discussed in the chapter on adjectives and participles as attributes in nutshell 3: ‘a man speaking to a child about elephants’. Being attributive clauses, they are translated with cumulative or partitive brackets or coordinations.