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A few translation questions for 2nd Form Latin Final Review

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    A few translation questions for 2nd Form Latin Final Review

    We wrapped up Second Form Latin this week with our 8th grader and had a questions about a few of the translation exercises.

    1. Worksheet 11 #2, "Hostium pecumiam facile invenimus." Answer key has "We easily discovered the enemies' money." In another discussion a few months ago, Jon C. suggested that the translation of "hostis" into English is a little vague because English can use "the enemy" to mean (in Jon's words) "one lonely scoundrel or a whole host of bad guys." In this case, might we also translate to "We easily discovered the enemy's money"? Or is the use of hostium a dead giveaway that it should be "enemies'"?

    2. Worksheet 12 #10, "Victoria sociis Romanorum ab imperatore nuntiabatur." Answer key has "The victory was being announced by the general to the allies of the Romans." Because sociis could be ablative, might we also translate as "The victory by the Romans' allies was reported by the commander."?

    3 Worksheet 13 #5, "Orator clamore omnium civium impeditur." Answer key has "The speaker is hindered by the shouting of the citizens." We were wondering about the use of "by the shouting," which may be an artifact of our not having the full range of fluidity in the translation. In 2nd Form, "clamor -oris" is given as "shout, cry"; is there a general principle about a noun like "the shout" also translating to "shouting" (other examples being a/the cry > crying, a/the cheer >cheering)? We can see, of course, that "clamore" in this case, being singular, is a slightly awkward when translated as "by the shout of the citizens," and that "shouting" would be more naturally (or "by the shouts," but in that case the Latin should have clamoribus).

    Thanks again! We've certainly loved our second full helping of Latin and are looking forward to Third Form (after a summer doing the review workbook and making ourselves an extended vocabulary list)!



    1. As you mention, "the enemy's gold" in English could just as easily mean "the enemy individual's" or "the enemy host's" - so as an English translation of hostium it's not wrong. However, if in doubt, the most literal translation is always preferable so long as it isn't bad English, so "the enemies' gold" sidesteps that ambiguity. So, from English to Latin, ask yourself the scoundrel-versus-host question; from Latin to English, try to replicate the Latin tense unless the plural "enemies" sounds legitimately worse than "the enemy" in context.

    2. This one's tricky! The short answer is no, sociis cannot be ablative in this context. The long answer: translating sociis as "by the allies" as in "the allies did this" sounds a lot like an ablative of agent, which would suggest no because ablatives of agent need a preposition (a or ab) before it. However, ablatives of agent by definition characterize a passive verb or verbal noun/adjective, as in "the enemy was defeated by the allies" - victoria is a noun related to a verb (vinco > victus > victor > victoria) but I do not believe we can qualify it as a verbal noun, much less a passive verbal noun. Thus, ablative is a no-go; dative is your only option.

    3. I would much rather we define clamor as "uproar" - unlike "shout" or "cry" which is typically singular or plural depending on the number of folks doing the shouting or crying, "uproar" refers to a whole mass of sounds on a single occasion, which is how clamor is very often, if not most often, used. If there were two uproars, they would have to be on different occasions, or in different places, or for different purposes; otherwise, what's to distinguish one set of people shouting from another? (Not a bad way to think about it, actually; if the shouting is of multiple distinct parts, either in time or space or purpose, plural is good; if it is one indistinguishable mass of sound, or where clear delineations between time/place/purpose aren't possible, keep it singular.)

    - Jon


      My twins are taking this final this week --- y'all are not inspiring confidence over here. 🤣
      Plans for 2022-23

      Year 12 of homeschooling with MP

      DD1 - 27 - college grad, bakery owner
      DD2 - 16 - 11th grade - HLS Cottage School - online classes, looking at dual credit - equestrian and theatre
      DS3 - 14 -7A Cottage School - soccer/tennis -dyslexia and dysgraphia
      DS4 -14 - 7A Cottage School -soccer/tennis -auditory processing disorder
      DD5 - 10- 5A, Cottage School - inattentive ADHD - equestrian and tumbling
      DS6 - 9 - MP 1 - home with momma


        Don't worry--the final doesn't have subtleties like these.


          Originally posted by kraigb View Post
          Don't worry--the final doesn't have subtleties like these.
          I can put some on there if you'd like!

          (That is a joke. I am not going to do that.)


            Thanks for the explanations, Jon. I can see that these are things we'll learn once we transition more into reading and translating classical works to build on the grammar that we've learned thus far. It definitely reinforces the fact, also, that translation is a thoughtful activity and not a mechanical one. (Which underscores why Google translate to/from Latin is, well, abysmally dreadful.)

            Maybe a good subtitle for Second Form Latin might be "In which you learn just enough to be dangerous!" 😜


              Indeed, Latin's still a language! As delightfully orderly as it usually is, in the end there will always be matters of sense or style that come with familiarity.

              You're thinking the right way, though; as far as "dangerous" goes, coming up with multiple technically-correct translations is a pretty good danger to be in!


                Thanks again. In the words of my wife and son, "Jon rocks!" We love the detailed explanations.