Relative Absoluteness: The Case of Participial Clauses in Latin

  • Beata Spieralska Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, ul. Dewajtis 5, 01-815 Warsaw, Poland


The aim of this article is to reopen the investigation of the ablative absolute in Latin and to analyse this construction and its use from one angle, namely, the coreferentiality rules. The examples for analysis have been taken from the Gallic Wars. As has been noticed before, in several works, the use of the absolute construction in texts written by classical authors, such as Caesar or Cicero, allows us to formulate a rule concerning its coreferentiality. As far as the syntactical coreferentiality is concerned, the classical rule requires an absolute construction to be — unsurprisingly — absolute, i. e., non-coreferential. This rule seems to be increasingly ignored by later authors. However, a deeper analysis taking into account not only syntactical but also semantical coreferentiality shows that the absoluteness of the construction is not so absolute after all, even in classical Latin. The examples of such use of the ablativus absolutus may be seen as forerunners of the change that occurred between classical and late Latin. The author proposes a hypothesis that an independent but similar development of the use of absolute constructions in different languages may suggest that there is a kind of interlinguistic tendency to substitute nominal phrases for subordinate clauses, especially in spoken language.

Ключевые слова:

absolute constructions, coreferentiality, nominal phrase, conjunct participle


Данные скачивания пока недоступны.


Bourgain P. The works of Gregory of Tours: Manuscripts, Language and Style, in: A. C. Murray (ed.) A Companion to Gregory of Tours. Turnhout, Brepols, 2015, 141–190.

Brinton L. J. The ghosts of old morphology: lexicalization or (de)grammaticalization?, in: K. Davidse, T. Breban, L. Brems, T. Mortelmans (eds). Grammaticalization and Language Change. New reflexions. Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 2012, 135–166.

Coleman R. The Rise and fall of absolute constructions: A Latin case history, in: G. Calboli (ed.) Subordination and other topics in Latin. Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 1989, 353–374.

Galdi G. Remarks on temporal clauses and participial phrases in late historical texts, in: P. Pocetti (ed.) Latinitatis Rationes. Berlin, De Gruyter, 2016, 651–667.

Gayno M. Le participe en latin aux VIe et VIIe s. ap. J.-C. Syntaxe et sémantique. Paris, L’Harmattan, 2015.

Greco P. La subordinazione participiale nel primo libro della Historia Francorum di Gregorio di Tours. Medioevo romanzo 2005, 29, 3–71.

Grevisse M. Le Bon Usage. Paris, Goosse, 2003.

Hayase N. The cognitive motivation for the use of dangling participles in English, in: K.-U. Panther, G. Radden (eds). Motivation in Grammar and the Lexicon. Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 2011, 89–105.

Helttula A. Studies on the Latin accusative absolute. Helsinki, Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1987.

Hoff F. Les ablatifs absolus irréguliers: un nouvel examen du problème, in: G. Calboli (ed.) Subordination and Other Topics in Latin. Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 1989, 401–424.

Jadacka H. Imiesłowowy równoważnik zdania — norma a praktyka języka. Prace filologiczne 1991, 36, 183– 194.

Jadacka H. Kultura języka polskiego. Fleksja, słowotwórstwo, składnia. Warszawa, PWN, 2005.

Lehmann C. Latin Subordination in typological perspective, in: G. Calboli (ed.) Subordination and other topics in Latin. Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 1989, 153–180.

Milani C. Varia Linguistica. Milano, EDUCatt, 2009.

Molinelli P. Absolute structures in late Latin, in: C. Moussy (ed.) De lingua latina novae quaestiones. Louvain, Peeters, 2001, 473–484.

Ramat P. On Latin Absolute Constructions, in: J. Herman (ed.) Linguistic Studies on Latin. Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 1994, 259–268.

Remmelink H. W. Inferring implicit first-argument participants of passive ablative absolutes in Ammianus Marcelinus, in: A. M. Bolkestein (ed.), Theory and description in Latin linguistics. Amsterdam, Brill, 2002, 301–316.

Rice Holmes T. (ed.). Caesar. Commentarii Rerum in Gallia gestarum VII. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1914.

Touratier C. Syntaxe latine. Louvain-la-Neuve, Peeters, 1994.

Как цитировать
Spieralska, B. (2021). Relative Absoluteness: The Case of Participial Clauses in Latin. Philologia Classica, 16(1), 90-99.
Orbis Romanus