Wolfgang De Melo, Giuseppe Pezzini

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This chapter focuses on morpho-syntactical phenomena that are typically brushed off with labels such as ‘archaism’ or ‘colloquialism’ (e.g. siet; medio-passive infinitives ending in -ier; med; familiai; absence of subordinator ut; absence of subject accusatives). These labels provide neither an explanation nor an assessment that takes their functions and distributions into account. The analysis of distribution patterns shows whether a type of scansion, a morpheme, or a construction that stands out from the angle of an Indo-Europeanist or that of a classicist is in fact normal in early Latin, or marked in some way. For example, the discrepancy between the different conjugations shows that Plautus and Terence do not pick forms in -ier and then try to fit them into the line; rather, they write their lines and only pick forms in -ier if it cannot be helped. This has implications for assessing the stylistic value of forms in -ier in contemporary inscriptions or in Lucretius. This analysis, in turn, can help us to understand early texts in their own right, and aids us in reconstruction or understanding how a Roman of the classical period would have felt about a specific phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarly Latin
Subtitle of host publicationconstructs, diversity, reception
EditorsJames Adams, Anna Chahoud, Giuseppe Pezzini
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781108671132
ISBN (Print)9781108476584
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • Early Latin
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Verb system
  • Metrically motivated forms
  • Marked language


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