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Translation of 'it'

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Translation of 'it'

Postby Sigma » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:04 pm

If 'it' is being used to refer to a specific noun, should it agree with the gender of that noun, or should 'it' always be translated using the neuter pronoun? For example, which pronoun is correct here?

Ubi est liber? Viro eum/id dedi. - Where is the book? I gave it to the man.

My guess is that 'eum' would be correct in the above example, but I don't recall Wheelock mentioning anything about this in the section on personal pronouns.
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:10 pm

In classical Latin, it has to agree with it's antecedent. So, it would be eum, as you suspect. Things are just a little looser from time to time in medieval Latin, from the little bit of it that I've read.
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby timeodanaos » Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:12 am

Yes, a pronoun should agree with the (implied) noun - be it there or not. One of the best examples is a quote of Caesar's, when he saw the daggers in the hands of the other senators: Haec est vis! (I don't know where the quote is from, but it exemplifies the phenomenon well).
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby Grochojad » Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:14 am

Pronoun's gender has to agree with the gender of the noun. Try to understand Latin per se and not through English.
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby jaihare » Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:21 am

Sigma wrote:If 'it' is being used to refer to a specific noun, should it agree with the gender of that noun, or should 'it' always be translated using the neuter pronoun? For example, which pronoun is correct here?

Ubi est liber? Viro eum/id dedi. - Where is the book? I gave it to the man.

My guess is that 'eum' would be correct in the above example, but I don't recall Wheelock mentioning anything about this in the section on personal pronouns.


You should definitely go with eum.

In Greek, the word for book is ἡ βίβλος (feminine) or τὸ βιβλίον (neuter). I could say this two ways:

ποῦ ἐστὶν ἡ βίβλος [τὸ βιβλίον]; τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ αὐτὴν [αὐτὸ] δέδωκα.

You have to match the gender and number to the noun. In this case, liber (librī) is masculine.

I'm just reasoning this out. I haven't found a point about it in Wheelock either.
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby timeodanaos » Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:42 am

I just looked through a few of my grammars (and realized at the same time that I own exactly none in English. how come?) and couldn't find this (very particular point - what I wrote above is included at least in Rubenbauer-Hofmann) as a rule either. Not even in Kühner-Stegmann. But trust us! It's the same in Germanic languages such as Scandinavian, English, esp. German.
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby Sigma » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:27 am

Excellent, just as I thought. This is what happens in Russian (Где книга? Я дал ее мужчине.), which is why I suspected the same would happen in Latin. Thankfully, it does!
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby metrodorus » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:48 am

Of course, remember, that in idiomatic Latin a Roman would not be bound to use 'it' in the way we use it in English. We cannot always translate English directly into Latin using the English idiom. You would not idiomatically reply " eum dedi", (although it is grammatical) normally, in the case where the pronoun stands in the same case as the noun - more often than not, it is simply omitted, unless there is some compelling reason to point out the object with the pronoun, for example as a matter of contrast to another object. So, simply, "dedi", or more elegantly, for emphasis you would repeat the noun, as Caesar so often does. This is more or less unacceptable in English, but regarded as elegant in Latin.
see Adler pg 14 for examples
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby adrianus » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:43 pm

Note, Sigma, that what Metrodorus draws attention to does not apply to your question. In "Ubi est liber? Viro eum dedi. // Where is the book? I gave it to the man." the pronoun (eum accusative) is not in the same case as the noun (liber nominative) so Adler wouldn't say it's elegant to omit it in "Viro eum dedi".

Ita, autem, nota, Sigma. Non dicat Alder "eum" in "viro eum dedi" omittendum esse quod altero casu (scilicet accusativo) est pronomen quàm est libris nomen (nominativo).

metrodorus wrote:This is more or less unacceptable [omitting the noun/pronoun if it can be clearly assumed] in English, but regarded as elegant in Latin.

This is also fine in English in this regard: to the question "Did you give it?", the answer "I did" omits the object while echoing the verb. And to "Is it a book?", the answer "It is" is always fine without the predicate noun. To the question "Did you give X?", the answer "subject + verb + adverb/adverbial phrase ["already", "grudgingly", "without asking any questions"] is good without an object, although strictly this is answering another question.
Quibusdem locibus per verbum respondere objecto omisso bonum anglicum est. Praeter anglicè "is it a book" quaestionem, licet anglicè per verbum solum respondere sine nomine praenomineve praedicativo. Etiam subjecto et verbo cum adverbio vel dicto adverbiale saepè bonum anglicè est responsum sine objecto. Strictim autem eo casu responsum aliam quaestionem spectat.
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby Sigma » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:16 am

Interesting, thank you! So in that case, the following would be considered elegant and OK?

Ubi est liber? Viro (a me) datus est.
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Re: Translation of 'it'

Postby MatthaeusLatinus » Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:26 am

Yes.
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