Relative Absoluteness: The Case of Participial Clauses in Latin
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.
absolute constructions, coreferentiality, nominal phrase, conjunct participle
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