How to Express Surprise without Saying “I’m Surprised” in Latin

The paper focuses on the ways of expressing mirative semantics in the Latin language. Mirativity is a grammatical category which expresses the speaker’s unprepared mind, a deferred realization of a situation and concomitant surprise. These values can be conveyed by both lexical and grammatical means. The paper analyses only grammatical phenomena, without taking into consideration any lexical devices (such as the verb (ad)mirari), and shows that in addition to the basic meanings of time, mood etc. these grammatical phenomena, in certain contexts, express the semantics of abruptness and surprise. Since their primary meaning is not mirative and appears as a “side effect”, they should be called mirative strategies rather than miratives stricto sensu. Such strategies may be reflected through morphological categories of time and mood (e.g. Praesens coniunctivi, Futurum indicativi, Imperfectum indicativi), auxiliaries (particles, conjunctions) or syntactic constructions (Accusativus exclamationis, Infinitivus indignantis). Their mirative meaning is contextually conditioned and in some cases is only possible in interaction with other grammatical categories (verbal person, number, etc.). The study investigates pragmatic and stylistic functions of these phenomena and shows that the choice of a strategy in some cases is directly related to the genre of work and the style of speech. The genre distribution of mirative strategies we suggested allows us to consider them not only as linguistic entities to express modal meanings, but also as a stylistic device.

Zheltova E.V. How to Express Surprise without Saying “I’m Surprised” in Latin