4

I just saw an episode of Mr Bean and once again heard the choir sing in Latin. Based on what I remember hearing and what I found online, the four segments sung are:

  1. Start: Ecce homo qui est faba — Behold the man who is a bean
  2. End of first half: Finis partis primae — End of first part
  3. Start of second half: Pars secunda — Part two
  4. End: Vale homo qui est faba — Farewell, man who is a bean

In all sources I saw the last line has est. I would expect es, since vale is addressed to Mr Bean (second person singular). I recall seeing second person verbs in relative clauses, for example: Tibi, qui amicus es, donum do.

Is the est in the fourth line grammatical? Is it possible to use third person verbs in a relative clause to refer to second person this way? Is it indeed supposed to be est instead of es? I found no authoritative sources for the lyrics, and I cannot hear the difference clearly enough to judge by ear.

  • 1
    Not sure at all if it is, but supposing you are listening well and the whole sentence is in fact grammatical, i'd also consider the possibility that the relative clause is being treated as adjectival (Vale, homo qui-est-faba). I don't know if that is legal either. Another option is they are treating vale, as just a greeting, not a verb (interjection maybe?) I have the feeling that vale and ave might have fossilized as verbs at some point after antiquity – Rafael Apr 9 '18 at 20:40
  • 1
    @Rafael My impression is that it's classically illegal, but one of the things you describe may well have happened later. If so, there ought to be more examples out there to show that this isn't unique. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 9 '18 at 21:08
  • 3
    It sounds like the influence of ModE grammar to me, where you're a man who's a bean is more common than you're a man who are a bean, if the latter occurs at all. – Anonym Apr 9 '18 at 22:32
  • 1
    I'm trying to think of a way to find such quotations! – Cerberus Apr 10 '18 at 0:41
  • 1
    @Anonym: "in Latin second-person verbs are generally used even if the subject/referent is a noun"--I thought that was part of the question here? Joonas mentioned an example ("Tibi, qui amicus es,...") where second-person agreement is used in a relative clause where the antecedent of the relative pronoun is a 2nd-person pronoun, so I was wondering if there are other examples from Latin texts that show the use of second-person agreement after a noun phrase that is not a 2nd-person pronoun or a vocative, and where the predicate noun in the relative clause is not a 2nd-person pronoun. – sumelic Apr 11 '18 at 0:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.