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  • 1 Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, italy
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Summary:

This paper focuses on some problems that emerge in the analysis of Latin partitive structures of various times and in the study of their diachronic relationship to Romance partitive structures. It especially deals with constructions of the form V + NP (with NP marked by the Genitive Case or governed by the preposition DĒ) which are examined in their formal and functional properties. Starting from a critical reconsideration of how they are described in various prominent grammars and studies, this paper underlines their non-homogeneous character. In particular, it casts doubts on the association of some of the constructions with V + Genitive NP to partitive function. As to the structures with NP governed by DĒ, it is argued that in the sample of sentences considered, which includes passages from Plautus, Cicero, Martial, Petronius, the preposition fundamentally retains its original value that expresses spatial movement from a place (physical or mental), and therefore assigns to the prepositional phrase a function of spatial origin that is inextricably interwoven to a possible partitive value. This brings to the conclusion that the spatial value may have been a main path to the development of the partitive function in the constructions with DĒ.

This paper also questions the equivalence of the constructions with NP marked by Genitive and those with NP governed by DĒ. It comes to the conclusion that no direct functional continuity from the first to the latter can be envisaged if one accepts the traditional typological description whereby the structures with DE gradually came to replace those with the Genitive. However, some Late Latin constructions with DE show formal and functional similarities with the older Romance partitive constructions.

The influence of Greek on Latin is discussed as a possible factor that affected the shaping of Latin partitive constructions over time, though it is arguably difficult to prove it in a satisfactory way and this issue deserves further research.

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