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Some (2nd Form) Latin questions on placement of adjective and prepositional phrases

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    Some (2nd Form) Latin questions on placement of adjective and prepositional phrases

    We're deep into Second Form Latin with our 8th grader, and as extra credit, we're working up a ridiculously long English sentence (lots of prepositional phrases, adjectives, adverbs, and possessives) to translate into Latin, to flex our known grammar and vocabulary.

    A few questions that have come up:
    1. The subject of the main sentence we're using is "brave soldiers and strong horses", which would translate to milites fortes et equi fortes, and then we want to say, "Our brave soldiers and strong horses". Question is, where should nostri go? After milites fortes, after equi fortes, or perhaps after both? I would imagine it depends on whether we want to say that both the soldiers and horses are ours, which is what we're assuming. In English, we'd naturally apply "our" to the soldiers and the horses, but I'm wondering if it needs to be more precise in Latin with the personal pronoun possessive adjective on both nouns.
    2. The verb of the sentence we're building is were hauling, or trahebant, and we're adding a bunch of prepositional phrases. Question is, as those phrases get longer and more numerous, would we still keep placing trahebant at the end of the sentence? For example, "Our soldiers were hauling rocks" is Milites nostri saxa trahebant. Adding "on the road" would add in via--and with the simpler examples we've seen in the textbook, we'd have Milites nostri saxa in via trahebant. So far, so good. But now we're adding much longer prepositional phrases like "on the road near the city at the foot of the hills"...and will be adding more adjectives in those phrases and even more phrases. At some point, then, the trahebant becomes quite separated from the subject of the sentence. Would we still keep placing the verb all the way at the end? Or is there a point at which we might start putting the prepositional phrases after the verb?
    3. One of the prepositional phrases is "near our enemy's city", which we think translates to juxta hostis nostri urbem because "our" modifies "enemy's" and so nostri would follow hostis rather than following urbem. Is that correct? And if we then say, "near our shameful enemy's wretched city", would that be jutxa hostis turpis nostri urbem miserem?
    Thanks!

    Kraig
    Nevada City, CA

    #2
    Good on your student for deliberately difficult English-to-Latin translation! My hat's off to them!

    1. Since fortes refers to both the soldiers and the horses, you need only one! As a general rule, if a word is redundant in Latin, it should be removed. This frees up the language a bit. Any adjective describing multiple nouns is best placed before both or after both, while observing the typical quantity-quality rules. So, nostri as well as fortes should follow milites et equi. To decide which comes first, think of English word order: "strong our horses" sounds a lot worse than "our strong horses". Adjectives modify nouns in a certain order. Think of multiple adjectives as a Russian nesting doll: for "our strong horses", if the noun "horses" is the center, then each adjective away from it is an outer layer: (our (strong (horses))). Imitate this order of nesting in Latin: (((milites et equi) fortes) nostri). So: milites et equi fortes nostri has the most sensible order.

    2. Do not worry about substantial separation of a verb from its subject - Cicero certainly didn't mind! In fact, since the stated spirit of these sentences was their being "ridiculously long", the intentional suspension of the verb as far from the subject as possible is a distinctly Roman way of evoking that silliness. In doing so you share in a long and illustrious tradition of obnoxious overelaborations by our Roman forebears.

    3. The only thing missing here is word order for the possessive genitive. Genitives can be placed fairly freely, but to avoid ambiguity, placing hostis after the possessed noun, urbem, would help. That way, urbem, the object of the preposition juxta, has no separation; despite what was said of verbs in answer #2, you really don't want to separate prepositions too far from their object. A couple more changes:
    • "The enemy" in English can refer to both an individual bad guy and a whole host of bad guys. It sounds bad, in fact, to say "the city of the enemies" - not so in Latin. Unless the city is actually occupied by one lonely scoundrel, hostis should be pluralized to hostium.
    • As such, all its concomitant adjectives should switch to masculine genitive plural. Turpis becomes turpium, nostri becomes nostrorum.
    • Miser is a first-second declension adjective, despite its irregular ending. Since it modifies urbem, it should agree as feminine accusative singular, miseram.
    • Word order should follow as it does in answer #1 - that is, adjectives of quality following the noun, multiple adjectives modifying the smaller Russian nesting doll in the same order as English. So, "next to the (wretched (city)) of (our (shameful (enemy)))" juxta ((urbem) miseram) (((hostium) turpium) nostrorum).
    End result: juxta urbem miseram hostium turpium nostrorum.

    - Jon

    EDIT: The above recommendations will render the clearest word orders for multiple adjectives, but as has been said so very often, Latin word order is in most cases quite flexible. The English phrase "twelve good men and true" (as opposed to "twelve good and true men") is a good illustration of what Latin manages to do if there's some matter of meter or emphasis that supersedes sequential clarity.
    Last edited by Jon Christianson; 01-12-2021, 03:22 PM.

    Comment


      #3
      Excellent! Thanks for the clarifications--I think we'll enjoy discussing these tomorrow. The nesting part with the parentheses is quite helpful. Reminds me of working with the LISP programming language in college (I did Computer Engineering), which had a lot of similar inside-out expressions.

      My goof on the gender of urbs/urbis...forgot that one was feminine. And that's interesting about enemy vs. enemies, and that we'd be using enemies' (plural possessive).

      One more detail: the very last phrase of our longest variant is "for the great victory of the Senate and People of Rome." With SPQR in the genitive "of" case, how does that modify the endings, especially with the "que" in there? Looking at the nominative Senatus Populusque Romanus suggests it would become Senati Populique Romani. Is that the case?

      We'll post the full sentence and hopefully mostly correct translation when we're all done.

      Comment


        #4
        Oh, correction: I remembered that Senatus is a fourth declension us/us so it would be Senatus (with long u) in genitive. Populus and Romanus are both 2nd M so they're -i endings.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by kraigb View Post
          One more detail: the very last phrase of our longest variant is "for the great victory of the Senate and People of Rome." With SPQR in the genitive "of" case, how does that modify the endings, especially with the "que" in there? Looking at the nominative Senatus Populusque Romanus suggests it would become Senati Populique Romani. Is that the case?
          Originally posted by kraigb View Post
          Oh, correction: I remembered that Senatus is a fourth declension us/us so it would be Senatus (with long u) in genitive. Populus and Romanus are both 2nd M so they're -i endings.
          Indeed: Senatus, Populus, and Romanus should end up with genitive endings. As you mention, Senatus is fourth declension and Populus is second, so Senatūs Populique Romani is what you're looking for.

          The enclitic -que should give you no trouble. It will attach to a word regardless of that word's ending: populusque, populique, populoque, populorumque, etc.

          Looking forward to the end result!

          Comment


            #6
            Kraig & Jon,
            This is fun to read. Thanks for asking and discussing!
            Festina lentē,
            Jessica P

            2020-2021
            11th year HSing · 9th year MP
            @ Home, HLN, & Latin online
            11th, 9th, 6th, 3rd

            Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks, Jon, for confirming how that -que works in there.

              When discussing your previous responses in today's class, we wondered about a phrase like this: "Our brave soldiers and your strong horses." I would think that because there's another outer modifier there, that we'd translate as ((Milites fortes) nostri) et ((equi fortes tui), but could it also work as ((Milites nostri) et (equi tui) fortes) to remove the redundant word? That is, would dangling fortes at the end effectively say "apply this to all the preceding nouns in the phrase"?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by kraigb View Post
                Thanks, Jon, for confirming how that -que works in there.

                When discussing your previous responses in today's class, we wondered about a phrase like this: "Our brave soldiers and your strong horses." I would think that because there's another outer modifier there, that we'd translate as ((Milites fortes) nostri) et ((equi fortes tui), but could it also work as ((Milites nostri) et (equi tui) fortes) to remove the redundant word? That is, would dangling fortes at the end effectively say "apply this to all the preceding nouns in the phrase"?
                Alright, we're officially approaching subjective territory!

                The short answer is yes, milites nostri et equi tui fortes can still imply that fortes applies equally to our soldiers and your horses.

                The long answer is that the division of milites and equi by adding mutually exclusive adjectives makes the application of fortes to both nouns less clear. Now we have a choice; does the value of clarity outweigh the value of nonredundancy? All in all, I would suggest that it's still sufficiently clear. Add much more, though, especially if you stack any more adjectives on one or the other noun, and a duplicate fortes might be necessary.

                Comment


                  #9
                  "Does the value of clarity outweigh the value of redundancy?" Sounds like an issue that can arise in any language! I know it takes work in English to be clear but concise, and of course Latin isn't free from such considerations either. In any case, I'm delighted to know that we (myself, my wife, and my son who are all doing this together) are at least thinking of these things in a productive manner.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Yes, no language is safe from ideas whose complexity requires judgement on the part of the speaker. I am presently writing on the subject of Latin's greater capacity for specificity in certain respects (e.g. tense relative to tense in subordinated speech) compared to English, but even if Latin can run a lot longer before hitting a barrier of ambiguity, those barriers still exist.

                    Indeed, these exercises you're doing should be very productive! This is an excellent way of pushing your Latin to its limits; poking and prodding each part of speech well beyond its regular complexity should make comprehending them in regular language use a great deal easier.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      OK, here's where we ended up.

                      We started with "Our soldiers" (Milites nostri), and gradually added words and phrases, e.g. "Our brave soliders" (Milites fortes nostri), "Our brave soldiers were hauling rocks" (Milites fortes nostri saxa trahebant), and then adding in the horses, the strong horses, the Roman soliders, heavy rocks, seven catapults, and some adverbs (which we just learned last week in 2nd Form Latin).

                      This gets us to the main subject/verb phrase of the full, ridiculously-long English sentence: "Our brave Roman soldiers and strong horses were slowly and faithfully hauling heavy rocks and seven catapults."

                      Our translation for this part: Milites Romani et equi fortes nostri saxa gravia et septum catapultas trahebant lente et fideliter.

                      Then we started adding a bunch of prepositional phrases with various possessives and such, to help us exercise a variety of declensions across genders and cases.

                      Here's the final English sentence, broken out into multiple lines for readability:
                      At the head of our army, with sweet zeal,
                      our brave Roman soldiers and strong horses
                      were slowly and faithfully hauling
                      heavy rocks and seven catapults
                      on the rough road through the field
                      at the foot of the high hills
                      near the ramparts of our shameful enemies' wretched city
                      on account of our noble leader's command
                      for the great victory of the Senate and People of Rome.

                      And then the translation (also getting fancy with accents, to which we're trying to be attentive):
                      Prae exércitu nostro, cum stúdio dulci,
                      mílites Romani et equi fortes nostri
                      saxa grávia et septem catapultas
                      in viā ásperā per agrum
                      sub cóllibus altis
                      juxta vallum urbis m
                      íseram hóstium túrpium nostrorum
                      propter impérium ducis n
                      óbilis nostri
                      vict
                      óriae magno Senatūs Populique Romani
                      trahebant lentē et fidéliter.

                      I think we got the adverbs in the right place, and we're using magno in the sense of a quality not a size, hence after victoriae. Anything we missed?

                      As you can see, we're having a lot of fun with this. And we're certainly enjoying thinking about how a Roman orator could hold out on the verb until the very end of a long run-on statement to make an excellent punchline and shock the audience!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        This is a wonderful exercise! Very thought-provoking! I would offer a few suggestions.

                        It would be more usual to write sub altis collibus -- unless you wish to emphasize the height of the hills, in which case it is fine to leave the adjective altis after the noun.

                        Miseram should be the genitive miserae to agree with urbis.

                        In the phrase “for the great victory," magno should agree with victory. Also, this phrase expresses purpose (hauling for the purpose of a great victory) and should be grammatically connected to the rest of the sentence. There are different ways to show purpose. One simple way would be to use the genitive with causā -- victoriae magnae causā, for the sake of the great victory.

                        Adverbs are usually placed before the verb. They may be placed out of usual position -- e.g., as you placed lente et fideliter at sentence end -- if you wish to emphasize them.

                        I wanted to add a side note on your subject phrase, brave soldiers and strong horses, milites et equi fortes, etc. Yes, absolutely, one adjective may modify two nouns. But the reader will generally assume one meaning for that adjective. The reader would not know that the writer intends a different sense of the Latin adjective to be be applied to the different nouns. (I'm speaking only of good, clear prose, not poetry, where more license is allowed for word play.) “Brave” and “strong” are not the same. Soldiers may be brave in a moral sense, but horses are strong in a physical sense. And the Latin word “fortes” is rarely applied to animals. You could write instead, “milites fortes et equi firmi, brave soldiers and strong horses.”

                        Please keep writing and posting. And I hope your work will inspire others to be creative and to go deeper into Latin.

                        Cheers.
                        Bonnie

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Ah, thanks for the corrections on miseram > miserae ad magno > magnae...in some of the interim versions urbis was urbem (in accusative) hence the leftover miseram. Magno is just a mistake. And I was wondering whether the assumed "for" in the dative case was sufficient for that "for the great victory clause," so your addition is clarifying.

                          I appreciate the further discussion about fortes and horses...one of the limitations of having a somewhat limited vocabulary at present.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Yes, regarding “for the great victory,” instead of the genitive with causā, you could use a dative of purpose -- victoriae magnae. But then ‘the Senate and People of Rome” must change to a dative of reference – Senatui Populoque Romano. (The dative of purpose cannot be modified by a genitive). The dative would literally be “for the great victory for the Senate and Roman people." I assume you have not studied this double use of the dative yet; it’s more complicated than just using the genitive with causā.

                            Yes, it is difficult to create sentences while still building vocabulary. You did a great job with this very long -- and meaningful -- sentence. Looking forward to reading more!

                            Bonnie

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