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 a pendulum.
- I want Jacopo to write about a pendulum.
- I see Jacopo writing about a pendulum.
- I see/assume that Jacopo is writing about a pendulum.
- I know who is writing about a pendulum.
- 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 (in Lemizh, 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|
|màqk.||opportunity||opportunity, chance||I give myself the chance to …||You give me the chance to …||I can / have the opportunity to … (Ital potere)|
|kmà.||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 …|
|dàxt.||must||necessity||I must / have to … (in my opinion)|
[‘A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do’]
|You command/order/tell 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 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 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.
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. Rule Six allows 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.|
If the agent might be someone else, we can use a pronoun.
|láxt ftnykè kráxy vèe.||The eagle wants to scratch someone.|
|want-fact1 eagle-acc-nom2a scratch-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-nom3a.|
|láxt ftnykè kràxy vèi.||The eagle wants to be scratched.|
|want-fact1 eagle-acc-nom2a scratch-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-dat3.|
b. The nominative object is someone else
|With the eagle as the agent of the accusative object:|
|láxt zaraqyhtè qáxky ftnÌky 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:|
|láxt zaraqyhtè qaxkÌ ftnÌki vèU.||Zarathustra wants flying of his eagle.||Zarathustra wants his eagle to fly.|
|want-fact1 Zarathustra-acc-nom2a fly-fact-acc2 eagle-acc-dat2 PIn−2-nom-ben3.|
Naming the eagle as the recipient makes the second phrasing more personal: Zarathustra addresses his wish to the eagle. On the other hand, while this phrasing is unambiguous here, 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 if necessary.
c. The nominative object is undefined
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.
|dàxt wáxy zèe. ⇒ waxdáxt 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.|
|Ràks nàty jmÌsy. ⇒ natRàks jmÌsy.||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 reality of the speaking. So all we need is an inversion.
|láxt veè wàxy.||I want to speak.|
|want-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a speak-fact-acc2.|
|⇔ wáx veè lÌxta.||(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 makes sure that the sentence still claims the wanting.
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.
|dmetfáw amelÌi.||Amélie is watching television.|
|láxt veè dmetfáwy amelÌi.||(construction b)||I want Amélie to watch television.|
|want-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a.|
|Ràks dmetfáwy amelÌi. ⇒ dmetfawRáks amelÌi.||(construction c)||Amélie should watch television.|
|should-fact1 television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a. ⇒ television-fact-should-fact1 Amélie-acc-dat2a.|
|wílv amelyè dmetfàwy.||(construction a)||Amélie has decided to watch television.|
|decide-cons1 Amélie-acc-nom2a television-fact-acc2.|
Construction b (‘I want Amélie …’) is phrased with Amélie in the dependent clause. The other possibility, with Amélie as recipient of the wish, would also be possible here as she is clearly the dative object of watching TV.
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.
|dmetfáw amelÌi.||Amélie is watching TV.|
|dmàt veì dmetfáwy amelÌi.||I see Amélie watching TV.|
|see-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2 television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a.|
|dmàt dmetfáwy amelÌi. ⇒ dmetfawdmát amelÌi.||Amélie is seen watching TV.|
|see-fact1 television-fact-acc2 Amélie-acc-dat3a. ⇒ television-fact-see-fact1 Amélie-acc-dat2a.|
English gerunds can (like nouns) be modified by adjectives and genitive attributes, or (like verbs) by adverbs, subjects and objects – making no difference in Lemizh.
|lacwnà nenàe fÌta.||Fast running / Running quickly didn’t help.|
|help-fact-not-fact1 run-fact-nom2 fast-acc-fact3.|
Gerund clauses also appear as attributes, in which case they typically form factive brackets.
|xàc yhwì fÌta.||He is riding a horse fast.|
|ride-fact1 horse-acc-dat2 fast-acc-fact2.|
|tàx xàca yhwì fÌta.||(used as a genitive attribute)||the art of riding a horse fast|
|art-fact1 ride-fact-fact2 horse-acc-dat3 fast-acc-fact3.|
Differences between infinitives and gerunds
Sometimes English uses the gerund to express a difference to the infinitive. This can affect person …
|ràh veè dráwy vèe.||I like to dance. / I like dancing [my dancing].|
|like-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 dance-fact-acc2 PIn−2-nom-nom3a.|
|ràh veè dráwy gwÌe.||I like dancing [watching someone dance].|
|like-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2 dance-fact-acc2 any-acc-nom3a.|
… inner case (typically factive vs. affirmative) …
|smàj byì wàxy lòy zìe.||She remembered the action of telling me her intentions.||She remembered to tell me her intentions.|
|remember-fact1 female-acc-dat2 speak-fact-acc2 do-ten-acc3 PIn−3-dat-nom4.|
|smàj byì wàlxy lòy zìe.||She remembered the fact of telling me her intentions.||She remembered telling me her intentions.|
|remember-fact1 female-acc-dat2 speak-aff-acc2 do-ten-acc3 PIn−3-dat-nom4.|
– or with an inversion to make it quite clear that the telling really did happen …
|⇔ wàx loÌ smÌja.||She told me her intentions, having remembered it.||She remembered to tell me her intentions.|
|speak-fact1 do-ten-acc2 remember-acc-fact2.|
… outer case (in other words, a different object) …
|fnà khnày.||She tried to shout [but this was difficult because of her sore throat].|
|fnà khnàu.||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.