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A Grammatical Dictionary of Botanical Latin

who: an English relative pronoun exclusively referring to a person, either masculine or feminine. In English, the relative pronoun 'which' or the interrogative 'what?' is similarly used to refer to a neuter, that is, a non person. In Latin all relative pronouns (qui, quae, quod, etc.) refer to masculine, feminine or neuter nouns irrespective of whether or not they refer to a human being; cf. demonstrative pronoun;

    m.f.          n.
1.  who?         what?
interrogative pronoun (quis (m.& f.), quid (n.)

As this pronoun, associated with questions, is of slight use in Botanical Latin as used in taxonomic descriptions and diagnoses, the reader is referred to a standard Classical Latin primer.

    m.f.          n.
2.  who          which
which relative pronoun (qui, quae, quod, q.v.); see "this."

                singular                       plural 

m. f. n. m. f. n.

Nom. qui quae (who) quod (which) qui quae quae

Gen. cuius (whose, of which) quorum quarum quorum

Dat. cui (to, for whom) quibus

Acc. quem quam (who) quod (which) quos quas quae

Abl. quo qua (by,with,from whom) quo quibus

(by,with,from which)

The following notes apply to use of the Latin relative pronoun:

a. the antecedent is a substantive noun or pronoun or other word, phrase or clause referred to by a pronoun.

b. word order: the relative pronoun immediately follows its antecedent (except when preceded by a preposition when the relative pronoun is the object of the preposition). Note how word order is used here, when inflection [?] alone is usually sufficient;

- [folio quod] quum laeve nitens plerumque valde papillato, with [the leaf, which] when smooth is shining, usually strongly papillate.

- [folio in quo] sporae dispositae valde papillato, with [the leaf, on which] the spores are arranged strongly papillate.

c. the relative pronoun, exclusive of its syntax, is declined according to the gender (m.f.n.) and number (sing./plural) of the antecedent; nom. sg. folium (n.) quod nom. pl. folia quae the leaf, which ...the leaves, which ...

d. the relative pronouns Who and Which introduce a subordinate clause within an independent clause:

- An independent clause has a subject, verb and object, that is, it is a complete sentence.

- A dependent clause, which the relative pronoun introduces, although also having a subject, verb and object, is considered dependent solely because the meaning, gender and number of the relative pronoun depends on that of the antecendent.

- Although the relative pronoun adheres to the gender and number (singular or plural) of the antecedent, its syntax (case endings) will rely on its use only in the subordinate clause which the relative pronoun introduces.

- The grammatical form of the relative pronoun (its inflected spelling) is dependent on its use in the dependent clause (not the overriding independent clause).

- Hence the case ending of the relative pronoun is completely independent of the case ending of its antecendent. The antecedent may, for example, be in the dative case, but the relative pronoun may be in the nominative, although both will be the same in number (sg./pl.) and gender (m.f.n.);

- caulibus qui sporas continentes brunneis papillatis, with the stems which contain the spores brown, papillate.

Caulis (s.m.III) is in the ablative (in the independent clause), while its relative pronoun, qui, is in the nominative (in the dependent clause).

Both are masculine nouns, both are plural.

EXAMPLES (note that a comma after the antecedent is helpful, as it is in English):

- antecendent nominative singular -- relative pronoun nom. sg.:

pileus qui, the pileus which.

capsula quae, the capsule which folium quod, the leaf which ..

- antecedent genitive singular -- relative pronoun nom. sg.: superficie pilei (m.), qui ex stipite evolutus, rubra, laevi. with the surface of the pileus, which developed from the stipe, red, smooth.

- antecedent dative singular -- relative pronoun gen. sg.:

petiolum cauli (m.), cuius superficies spinis praedita, simile

petiole similar to the stem, the surface of which is provided with spines.

- antecedent accusative singular -- relative pronoun abl. sg.:

foliolis ad radicem (f.), ex qua caulis principalis ortus, sitis, with leaflets on the root, out of which the principle stem has arisen, seated.

- antecedent ablative singular -- relative pronoun dat. sg.:

foliolis ex caule (m.), cui petiolum similis, ortis, with the leaflets from the stem, to which the petiole is similar, arisen.

NOTE: the interested student may wish to practice by writing out these sentences with the antecedent and associated relative pronoun in the plural.

NOTE: the relative pronoun may occur at the beginning of a new sentence, in which case it is a ‘connecting relative,’ meaning ‘and this’ or ‘and these;’ see ‘this (Eng. sg.), these (Eng. pl.).’


A work in progress, presently with preliminary A through R, and S, and with S (in part) through Z essentially completed.
Copyright © P. M. Eckel 2010-2017

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