Dudman as prophylaxis

I note that Co-ordinator Bob is worried about an outbreak of subjunctivitis when I try to speak about the Ancient Greek verbal system, and offers some Dudman as cover. It’s intriguing to note, however, that Dudman makes his comments first and foremost about English grammar, in which he is entirely right to say that categories thought up for other languages do not work there, and is deliberately less confident in making assertions about those other languages. This, so it seems to me, is because his starting point in the ‘Indicative and Subjunctive’ paper is that English has no moods, because either it has not – or has lost – those inflections to the verb. Ancient Greek, however, has not. So the term ‘subjunctive’ is much less important than what it actually conveys: a system (and only one!) of verbal inflection (according to aspect, person and number) designed to deal primarily with future time. We shall see if the prophylaxis works, or is actually needed.

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One Response to Dudman as prophylaxis

  1. Mark says:

    I suspect that Chairman Bob is worried about relapses in the audience.  The study of classical languages is probably the most fertile source of misunderstandings about English – it would take an unusually hardy intellect to emerge unscathed from, say, James Morwood’s recent grammars of Latin and Greek – and there is a danger that those with more traditional educations will fall back into old habits.

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