Linguistics

Ok. I’m going to try to move some ‘comments’ to a new venue.

272 Comments

  1. Andrew_W

    D’oh! Yes the a prior paragraph is discussing a sailor who is Cornelia’s brother who for some reason or other is not present.

  2. Andrew_W

    I am annoyed with my dictionaries.

    Three different dictionaries looking for a definition of “benignus”. (It seems so obvious at first glance)

    Each definition I found adequately defines the word “benign” but not one of them actually translates “benignus” as “benign”. It is just odd. This translation stuff would be a lot easier if the dictionaries would actually state obvious connections. Re the connection between: pecuniam – pecuniary.

  3. Andrew_W

    Another one:

    Cara: Cassels doesn’t have it. Electronic dictionary says “dear, beloved; costly, precious, valued; high-priced, expensive.

    Why not “caring, cared for”

    The obvious can be misleading, but very ofter the obvious is obvious for a reason.

  4. Andrew_W

    and again:

    spectant: observe, watch, look at, see; test consider.

    Why not: spectate

    Three different dictionaries and the obvious connection is not made. Learning Latin would be much easier if the Latin in our English was indicated with some emphasis. Instead of just being ignored.

    I am really reading Cornelia with an eye for the familiar now. It is helping a lot. I can read a paragraph and grasp a meaning. Then go to the dictionary to confirm rather than parse. I am finding that my initial impressions of passages are becoming more accurate.

    Literal translations to English leave me with a passage that sounds pretentious. But, the understanding is better. Once I understand what is being said, at that point I can interpret the translation into something less pretentious. But, the dictionaries seem to be bent on avoiding the pretentious sounding English variant altogether. It is almost like the dictionaries are trying to limit the interpretations.

  5. CJ

    Cara means dear or beloved, and refers to a female… the -a ending. Carus would refer to a male. The reason you can’t find it in Cassell’s is that you’re looking for the feminine form, and Cassell’s always lists the male form first. Look for carus and you’ll find it.

    Benignus means kindly or well-intentioned referring to a male. Adjectives agree with the sex of the noun. In the 1st and second classes of nouns, -a is usually female, (poeta, nauta are exceptions) and -us is male; -um is neuter. Cara, carus, carum.

    specto-spectare. To construe a ‘a’ verb, your present tense endings are: o, s, t, mus, tis, nt. You whack the -re off the infinitive form (spectare) and get specta. THe first is specto (no a), and the others are spectas, spectat, spectamus, spectatis, spectant. arranged downward in I, you, he forms; then a facing column as we, you, they, the corresponding plurals.

    Latin doesn’t use pronouns except as objects, or except where definition is needed for clarity.

    So —nautam specto. I’m looking at a sailor. The -am ending is the direct object ending. The latin case is called the accusative, not the objective.
    Puellam specto. I’m looking at a girl. Puella me spectat. The girl is looking at me. (yep, me is me, but pronounced may.)

    There is a word for just ‘see’ instead of ‘watch’ or ‘look at’ or ‘observe.’ That word is video videre. And it’s an long-e-class verb. Nautam video. I see a sailor. Nauta me videt. The sailor sees me. Nautam videmus. We see a sailor. The long-e verbs are pronounced, eg, weh-DAY-reh, videre. (v is often written -u- and is pronounced that way. V was invented because it was easier for stonecutters —no kidding. W–is literally a double u..uu. but if you wrote videre as most Romans would, you’d write uedere, and pronounce ALL vowels…in slow motion: u-eh-DAY-reh. Or weh-DAY-reh.

    there are also short-e-class verbs…some with an -io ‘I’ ending; and all short-e-class, whether with an ‘i’ or without, go to -i- instead of -e- in their endings. Capio capere. Nautam capio. I catch the sailor. I arrest the sailor. Nautam capit—he catches the sailor. Regit. He rules. Rego. I rule. Regis–you rule. Lego. I pick— Legis you pick. Legit—he picks, chooses, gathers, like fruit. Short-e types are accented earlier in the word, because that -e is short. So capere (to take) is KAH-peh-reh. The shortness affects the rhythm. The pronounciation (ay) for e —-does not change.

    The rule for accent is: the antepenultimate syllable, (next to last) gets the accent if the vowel in that syllable is long, or if there is a double consonant, like mm or mn, etc. If not, it goes one further back. So viDEre, but CApere. Short e in the second one.

    And some without

  6. BlueCatShip

    @Andrew — Careful there! I would say, learn to “squint” at the words and look for associations, how the words “blur” in connotations that connect them to other words. It’s like a drop of watercolor paint that’s still wet. The color is quite strong at the center and becomes blurrier and less intense at the edges of the droplet. It may bleed or run into adjacent droplets. It may be wiped away or overrun or it may overpower another drop of color near it. Similarly, words have a core meaning and acquire, add, or lose meanings around them.

    So when you’re learning and translating, loosen up a little. I think what you’re running into is the urgency to be precise in learning the particular meaning of the new words and grammar, but it’s usually better to let it be a little easygoing until you get a better sense of what it means overall to the native speakers.

    Yes, you can get some sense of Latin meanings from Latin imported into English or from Latin’s descendant languages. But each of those changed the original meanings slightly.

    —–

    Sequi, “follow!” would not likely carry any real naughty meaning, unless it had become used in *only* that context. But “sequi-” is really only just “follow, sequence” and the like. A “segue” from one topic to another, a sequence/sequential, consequences, all those, are from the root or stem.

    From what you found for “sequin,” it’s too different in origin for that to have a “naughty” connotation. It seems to be more a connotation of flashy, wealthy, very tiny bits like drilled coins. (Sequins can be large discs or very small.) If that flashiness is seen as gaudy or somehow suggestive by some group, that could be, but from the word-origins, it seems unlikely (IMHO).

    That said, yes, sex and food and any number of other things are basic psychological, emotional, and physical drives built into all of us, no matter how polite or well brought up or religious (or other rationale) we may claim to have for not being focused on those basic drives. It’s astonishing how much language can have some implied (or direct) meaning, even in words and phrases we don’t normally think of it.

    The Latins were a different culture with different attitudes and beliefs regarding sex, nudity, the roles of males and females in daily life, what was proper and what was not good behavior, and so on. That applies to any “foreign” or historical culture. But it doesn’t mean anything goes. They might be very strict about one thing and not about another. Their cultural norms or expectations might differ a lot from ours, or might be very similar.

    What’s surprised me is both how very modern the Greeks and Romans could be, and at times how different, sometimes barbarous by our standards, other times simply not what we’d expect, strange. (Estranger, Old French, meaning strange, foreign, from elsewhere.)

    Remember that dictionaries (and libraries and language teaching materials and methods) tend to be fairly conservative and often literary. Dictionaries in particular are trying to record associations and meanings, and sometimes histories, the “best usage” and most accurate. So they are often old already. Language teaching materials tend to try to teach the most widely accepted and standardized version of a language, and likewise may not be as up to date. The teacher, hopefully, *is* up to date and fresh in how he/she teaches the material. But learning it in class is not the same as going out among speakers and trying to get along on it. (“Excuse me, where is the…?”) (Oh, how do I say that?) (What is he/she saying? That sure doesn’t sound like it does in class. What was that word?) (Coupled with, the native speaker is trying to guess what the student means as much as the student is trying to guess what the native speaker means.) (Often with wildly varying results.) (That is, if the native speaker is guessing well or interested.)

    —–

    Uh, a slight correction: It’s “double entendre,” where “entendre” is literally, “to hear, to listen, to be heard,” so that a double entendre has a double meaning because it can be “heard” two different ways. 🙂

    Hmm, I’m getting interference from “détente,” which is quite different.

    It isn’t “intent, intended,” either, which would be “l’intention,” probably “intentre” or “intendre” for the verb, but I don’t recall right off. (French still.)

    —–

    Anyway, I would not put it past the textbook writer to have put in an intentionally suggestive joke at young Cordelia’s expense. (Expense? Again with the money? Haha.) Or he may have put that in to see who is following in overall comprehension, retaining the running narrative previously about Cordelia’s father and brother. Personally? I have to wonder about Cordelia and those sailors, even if the farm is close to the coast.

    Even if Cordelia is quite virtuous, she still may get frowning looks and disparaging comments from the older or more respectable women in town. Or they may ask her who she’s seeing now and who his family are, and when/if they are serious and going to marry. Some things don’t change much!

    I’m trying to keep separate the character Cordelia and her noble father, from Shakespeare.

  7. BlueCatShip

    Carus/cara would have meanings like dear, care, cherish, and probably “costly,” (it costs dearly). The verb, likely carare, to care, care for/about, be caring or be cared for, to be dear, to be cherished. In English we have care from Latin and cherish from French cherisser, adj. cher(s), chère(s). Cher the singer/actress dropped the -e and accent, whether she intended it to then have a masculine adjectival form or not. However, “cherry, cerise” is from a different source, cherries after all, and Cherryh adds an H for flair….

    (Reading CJ’s post: Oh! OK, that explains a few things. Stress accent, vowel length both. I don’t know enough to know if an open syllable (ends in a vowel) required a long vowel or might have a prolonged short vowel. I’d presume there were corresponding Long-O and Short-O classes of verbs, nouns, and adjectives, to match the Long-E and Short-E.)

  8. BlueCatShip

    @Andrew and others — Sorry if I came off too overbearing or know-it-all there. It wasn’t my intention, but it might look like it.

  9. Andrew_W

    No worries from me about the overbearing stuff. I know I truly enjoy pontificating whenever I can get away with it. My friends sometimes throw things to make me stop. Sometimes that even works.

  10. Andrew_W

    An interesting thought re: Carus/Cara

    Costing dearly as it relates to caring for a person. It has only been the last 300 years or so that has seen the slavery go out of style. In Roman times a person who was expensive to buy might be very deeply cared for indeed. Slaves weren’t cheap.

  11. Andrew_W

    multa videt A colloquialism?

    My electronic dictionary returned what appears to be a colloquialism. I looked up the word, multa. It returned definitions that included fines and penalties involving money. But it also gave me, much/many/a great many, etc.

    At the bottom of the list under the word multa was the word videt. It says that when videt and multa are used together it can mean many women. Not, many girls but many women.

    In the passage I am reading I have the following,

    …Ibi de matre, de patre, de Cornelia narrat, et
    amici respondent et de aestate et de tabernaculo ubi aestate
    habitant narrant. Multa colloquia habent et sunt laeti. Ibi
    puer saltat et multa videt et discit. Ibi laetus est….

    Am I correct that Cornelia’s brother spends some of his off season time checking out, and getting to know many women?

  12. Andrew_W

    Having trouble parsing this. Please pardon the length.

    I am stuck. I have a paragraph introducing another son of the farmer, named Pulbius, who is a soldier miles. In the next paragraph I am told he has been in battle and is very tired or exhausted. He wishes to see his mother and father. He is Diu exspestat, tum consilium bonum capit. which I take to mean he has been looking for some good council for a long time. From the previous context I thought he wanted council from his mother and father but that may not be right at all. The mention of mother and father may just be an aside. In any even this follows,

    Hoc est consilium. Ad Claudium, ducem, it. “Hic est
    gladius meus solus.” inquit Publius. “Est gladius latus sed
    non est novus, non est bonus. Haec est galea mea. Galea
    quoque non est nova, non est bona. Non bene caput tegit.
    In periculo sum quod vita militis est periculosa. Domi novum
    gladium et novam galeam habeo. A castris domum ire, et
    gladium : et galeam novam ad castra portare cupio. Anna
    bona habere cupio.” Dux audit. Mox respondet: “I et tela
    bona ad castra porta.”

    I am stuck because I have a preconceived notion of what to expect in this passage. “Good Council” for a tire soldier. So I get that he goes up to his duke “ducem”/war leader/leader/commander Claudius. But he doesn’t ask for council, or ask a question at all, he says (if I am reading this right)

    “This is my only sword.”

    The next statemt inquit Publius I take to mean, since Publius spoke to Claudius about something that Claudius would respond and this is phrased as,

    “He says to Publius”

    But the following just does not add up for me and equal council.

    “This sword is broad, but not new and not very good.” (If my CO had said that to me I’d have been in fear of my life) But then there is a confusion for me. I thought we were talkning about Publius’s stuff. But now the “ducem” says,

    “Here is my helmet. It is not new, it is not very good. Neither does in protect my head very well.”

    the ducem continues,

    “In perilous times, life in the military is perilous. At home you have a new helm and new sword.”

    the ducem contiues,

    “Go up to the “castris” probably a camp, possibly a fortified camp. “I desire to go to camp and bring (no, better idea would be fetch)/fetch a new helm and sword to have.”

    And at this point I cannot tell who is talking anymore, the duke or Pulbius. Because, the next line is,

    The Duke hears, and soon replys, in essencse. “Fetch a good spear at the camp.”

    After all of this Publius is apparently satisfied and goes home. But does he go home to see his mother and farther or is he going “home” to his “camp” to get his new kit?

    • Hanneke

      @Andrew: You’re reaching the limits of my off-the-cuff Latin memories, and my old books are stored out of reach.

      Without looking things up, at first glace I read inquit Publius as “inquired Publius”.
      Then after your explanation with the confusion about who is talking, I analysed it as follows: Publius has the ‘nominative’ ending -us, which means Publius is the one performing the action in the verb inquit (which I’m not dead sure about, but ‘inquires’ seems to fit the sentence well enough). This means it cannot denote the warleader speaking to Publius, as you yourself have concluded as well, in your next post.

      Consilium is linked in my mind to the word ‘Papal’ (for the Pope), and calls to mind the solemn gathering of Cardinals in the Vatican to decide important questions for the Catholic faith. So it might mean ‘advice, counsel’ but maybe it could also mean ‘council’, in the sense of a get-together of people to speak about things and decide things? Hmmm – Google translate says it means ‘plan’, and hoc means ‘this’: in that case the first sentences would translate as ‘This is the plan. He goes to Claudius, the war-leader.’.

      I’ve got the triplet hic-haec-hoc stuck in my head, but forgotten the meanings. From the later sentences, I read hic as ‘this’, haec as ‘that’, but hoc is clearly not ‘the other one’.
      From the still-in-use ad hoc I gathered the meaning ‘just for now’ or ‘in this case’, with connotations of impulsiveness, non-standard solutions, leaving the well-trodden path or established rule to find a new one for a single decision. Reasoning from that I’d translated hoc as ‘now, today’, but that’s clearly wrong once you link it up with hic and haec.
      From CJs earlier explanations of the Romans using 3 different words for degrees of distance: ‘this one here’, ‘that one there, not too far away’, and ‘that one way over there’, I’d expect hoc to be the latter. But ‘That way over there is the counsel/council/plan’ doesn’t really sound as if it’s right for the first sentence.

      Is Anna a name, or is it some form of annus ‘year’, like Annus mirabilis ‘the year of wonders, the wonderful year’ or Anno Domini ‘in the year of the Lord’? In that case it could be a plural of a neutral word, like bellum ‘war’ has bella , but I don’t know if that is possible with a word whose singular nominative ends in -us. Anna bona habere cupio = ‘I want to have good years’???
      Mox and tela I don’t recognise, but from your explanation mox means ‘soon’, though Google just translates it as ‘the’. I don’t think Google translate is very dependable, though it can sometimes give me some idea, if I’m totally stumped. It translates tela as ‘weapons’, which makes a bit more sense than sending someone who wants to go get his new sword to fetch a spear.
      Castris sounds as if it could be related to ‘castle’ – I agree with your guess of a fortified camp or settlement.

      Re your earlier post: it seems a bit early in your Latin lessons to be encountering colloquialisms. Most of the sentences you quote are structured fairly simply, with repetetions and redundancies to make them easier to understand. I’d think they are using the words literally, he sees a lot and says/talks(?) a lot. Is discit related to ‘discussion’ or ‘discern’? I know dixit = he says.

      …Ibi de matre, de patre, de Cornelia narrat, et
      amici respondent et de aestate et de tabernaculo ubi aestate
      habitant narrant. Multa colloquia habent et sunt laeti. Ibi
      puer saltat et multa videt et discit. Ibi laetus est….

      I don’t know what aestate or laetus mean. The first reminds me of ‘estate’ and of ‘aesthetics’, the second of the french ‘laide’ = ‘ugly’ (boy, did I guess those two wrong! I just looked them up and they mean ‘summer’ and ‘happy’!). Saltat , ‘salto’ and ‘Saltation’ (title of a book by Lee and Miller) seem related. Ibi is still used in reference lists in the word ibidem , ‘the same as above’.

      I get this translation, with a bit of help from the online translator-function of ‘the famous web search engine’:

      “There he talks about (his) father, about (his) mother, about Cornelia, and his friends respond and talk (-> narrate, tell stories?) about summer and about the tents (had to look that one up, my first guess was taverns) where they live in summer. They have many conferences (talks, discussions) and are happy. There, the boy/child dances (jumps?) and sees and learns a lot. He is happy there.”

  13. Andrew_W

    OK I have fought with that passage for a couple of hours now and I think I may have it.

    OK my confusion stems from four points. One is the early reference to a desire to see mom an pop. If I drop that out as an aside, then things become more clear.
    The next thing I get confused by is the phrase, inquit Publius. Is Publius saying all of the following? Or is the “ducem” saying it in response to Publius first statement. On going over the whole thing in writing I think that inquit Publius just means “Publius says” and is and interjection. That leaves almost all of the dialouge as something that Publius is saying it, with the Duke (I just like the usage of Duke here because it’s short.) only responding at the very end. The third point is that no one actuall asks a question. If I were the soldier somewhere in there I would be making a request for something and it would framed as a question. But, that can be worked around. Roman soldiers may not have been as circumspect as modern ones. The last thing that bothers me is that Publius is doing most of the talking here! He never actually asks for council! He just states his condition and his needs and gets a response. But, that’s just it then, consilium can mean “decision”.

    So, If I just sort of gloss over the whole wanting to see mom and pop thing I get this,

    Publius is not seeking council, he is seeking a decision from his C.O. and as such does not need to ask a question. Just present the situation, the C.O., being a good officer, will know to respond with a command.

    This is the decision, He goes up to his C.O. Claudius, “This is my only gladius.”, says Publius, “This gladius is broad but it is neither new nor is it very good.

    This is my helmet. Neither is it new or very good. It does not protect my head. In dangerous times military life is perilous. I have a new gladius and helm at home at camp. I need to go home and bring back that new gladius and helm from camp. I really need to have better arms.”

    The Duke hears and soon responds, “Bring a good spear back from camp (as well?).”

    This is the decision and the soldier goes home.

    That is clunky. If I translate for effect I get,

    Publius is exhausted from fighting and really would like to see his mom and dad. Not gunna happen, but he still needs to see the C.O. about some stuff.

    He marches over to Claudius, the C.O., “This is the only gladius I have.”, says Publius, “It’s broad, but it’s beat up. My helm is pretty beat up too, and it doesn’t cover my head anymore. Life’s been a bit precarious of late sir. Now I’ve got a new gladius and helm up at that camp we call home. I need to go and get ’em, fetch em back from camp. I really need that new kit from camp sir.”

    The C.O. replies, “And bring back a good spear while you’re at it soldier”

    Having his orders Publius heads off to camp.

    I broke one paragraph up into several on purpose. I did not translate gladius as “sword” because in this context it would be correct for him to have a specific type of sword, i.e. the gladius. What is odd about that passage is that it implies that he might carry more than one, which is not standard. But if he were talking about his pilum, (a throwing spear) it would be more to the point since each soldier carried three of those.

    I really took a lot of license with exact wording of the translation. This one really beat me up.

  14. BlueCatShip

    Hmm, I’ll need to copy those and parse them out, scratchpad style. I could be way off, but I’ll see what I turn up.

  15. BlueCatShip

    Hah, my attempt at the first selection went pretty well, but my try at the second started wandering around and missing over half or just guessing. Too long to take up space in posting, but it was fun trying. It might be worth a raised eyebrow or giggle per nostra professora, and might give a clue into how well I can guess or what level of language associative talent I have. I’ve saved it in case there’s interest. 🙂

  16. BlueCatShip

    aestate — that should be cognate with either (the/an) estate, a landholding, or else with (the/a) State, the whole government, as in “L’état, c’est moi,” (I am the State.) I think aestate is different than the word that would describe “a state, a status, a state of being.”

    Your guess on laetus, laeti (cf. laid/e/s/es) seems possible, given that it’s probably military soldiers’ camp dialect, but I get the feeling that’s a red herring, not the actual meaning. However, soldiers saying their buddy (or their superior) is an ugly so-and-so would be entirely likely — unless he’s talking to the C.O., in which case, he’d better be a very good friend, relative, or soldier, or the C.O. had better have a really good sense of humor right then.

  17. CJ

    Aestate—in the summer.
    laetus—happy.

  18. Andrew_W

    Anna = Arma. I need to be more careful cutting and pasting. My copy of Cornelia is a PDF that looks like it was converted from scanned images of the original printed copy. When I copy and paste the text what comes out doesn’t always look like what comes in.

    The whole Counsilium thing would be out of place here in reference to papal stuff. And, it doesn’t fit the context of a soldier speaking to his commander 1 on 1. Now it does carry the baggage here that a subordinate is speaking to a superior in order for the superior to tell the subordinate what the appropriate action might be. So, I am rendering the meaning of the passage that Publius is seeking a decision from his commander.

    Now while inquit sure does sound like inquire the lack of any question marks in the rest of passage sent me off to my dictionaries. And, it does not mean “inquire”. It means things like, “it is said” or “one says”. So I got to the point where it is just that interjected, “he said”, and the rest of my translation followed.

    I am also drawing from some personal experience. What messed with me was the absence of question marks. There are no questions asked here. So I am seeing a soldier who is going out of his way to avoid appearing indecisive by asking a lot of fool questions. He is presenting his C.O. with a “status report” and will take whatever response he gets as an order.

    Hmmm, looking at it that way, and taking translation out through interpretation, I can go back to inquit Publius and render that “Publis reports” and the whole passage takes on a much more appropriately military feel. After all a soldier doesn’t just walk up to his commander and indulge in idle conversation. They aren’t familiars and never will be.

    A very good exemplar of the correct conduct of a subordinate addressing a superior, especially a superior of long acquaintance are the scenes in the Clint Eastwood film Heartbreak Ridge, where he reports to his commander in the “old school” way particularly at the end of the Cuban operation.

    Off to the next page.

    • brennan

      Perhaps Consilium is used similarly to the English “took counsel with”. That seems to fit the context, have no clue grammatically.

  19. Andrew_W

    I found this gem. Every once in a while I run across a Latin sentence that perfectly matches the word and thought order of an archaic sounding English sentence.

    Ad stabulum Publius it ubi duo equi stant.
    To the stables Publius walks where two horses stand.

    This kind of thing has me “listening” for word patterns that I would expect to hear in James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, the Bible, even Tolkien. It is a older “wordy” syntax that was popular before the textbook “Elements of Style” came out and got us all writing like Hemmingway. If I read my Latin with these expectations in place the Latin word order seems to be much easier to make sense of.

    On another note.

    In this sentence and one before it I have just noticed this sort of interjected verb/identfier structure.

    Ad stabulum Publius it.
    To the stables Publius walks.

    Ad Claudium, ducem, it.
    Up to Cladius, the commader, he marches

    This very much clarifies the Latin word order issue. These things do not sound that odd in English at all and seem to fit well with the {Actor/Actee}{Action} word/thought process. If I can parse these sorts of things in English, on the fly, parsing them in Latin should not be that huge of a leap.

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