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.
This paper intends to investigate Greek influence on the Latin sound change [b] > [β] suggested occasionally in the literature by surveying not only the relevant linguistic data of Latin/Romance and Koine/Modern Greek but also the relevant literature and by involving and analyzing data sets recorded from 18 Roman provinces and the city of Rome in the Computerized Historical Linguistic Database of the Latin Inscriptions of the Imperial Age (cf. http://lldb.elte.hu/) by a more differentiated phonological approach considering external sandhi rules and in a chronological distribution more detailed than any applied before. In the end, the influence of Greek has been evidenced at least for some areas and especially for the early period (1st–3rd century AD), which is more important in this respect than the late period (4th–6th century AD), since then the merger can also be explained by developments in Latin itself beside a supposed external influence.