A Corpus-based Linguistic Analysis of Latin Frequentative Verbs

  • Jared Desjardins University of Colorado Boulder
Keywords: morphology, syntax, semantics, corpus linguistics, classical latin


Considering that Latin frequentative verbs have transparent morphological structure (the supine stem of the base verb concatenated with the frequentative -itare suffix and regular first conjugation inflectional endings), one would assume that the meaning of each such verb is related in a predictable way to that of its corresponding base verb, and that all members of the frequentative class share semantic entailments. However, frequentative verbs resist a uniform semantic analysis and can mean something entirely unpredictable from the sum of their parts, and traditional and contemporary definitions of frequentatives ignore the degree of idiomaticity between frequentative form and function and are based on limited corpus data. This paper provides a synchronic, corpus-based linguistic analysis of frequentative verbs in comparison to their base forms from both derivational (source-oriented) and usage-based (product-oriented) perspectives in order to explore the nature of the Latin frequentative. The paper concludes that a usage-based, product-oriented treatment of the data provides a more straightforward characterization of Latin frequentative verbs, highlighting the interconnectedness of morphology, syntax, and semantics.