Textkit Logo

Double/triple Genitives

Here's where you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Moderator: thesaurus

Double/triple Genitives

Postby ricelius » Mon Jun 14, 2004 11:32 pm

Salvete!

How would one go about translating "the answer to the great mystery of life"? Using a genitive to tie "mystery" to "life" could be a way to go, right? As in "responsio aenigmatis magni vitae"? (My question is primarily syntactical, but comments on proper word use would be very much appreciated as well.) Would that be understood and not confused with, say, "the answer to the life of the great mystery"? (Not that the latter makes much sense, but still.)

Then, let's complicate matters further: "the answer to one of the great mysteries of life". "responsio uni aenigmatum(?) magnorum vitae"?

If the above is corrent, then surely "I remember the answer to one of the great mysteries of life" would be, "responsionis uni aenigmatum magnorum vitae memini"? Would anyone other than the person uttering that (very philosophical) remark actually be able to make any sense of it? Granted, a simple declaration of "heureka!" would be much simpler and more to the point, but still... :lol:

Thanks for any insight.

ricelius

Post scriptum
If I just made a fool of myself by blatantly misdeclining (is that a word?) a noun, please bear with me. This goes for other stupid mistakes as well. :)
ricelius
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 3:16 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Re: Double/triple Genitives

Postby benissimus » Tue Jun 15, 2004 12:20 am

ricelius wrote:How would one go about translating "the answer to the great mystery of life"? Using a genitive to tie "mystery" to "life" could be a way to go, right? As in "responsio aenigmatis magni vitae"? (My question is primarily syntactical, but comments on proper word use would be very much appreciated as well.) Would that be understood and not confused with, say, "the answer to the life of the great mystery"? (Not that the latter makes much sense, but still.)

When stacking genitives in this way, word order can become rather rigid, so there should be little confusion about what belongs to what. In those occasional cases where it is not entirely clear, basic rationality should be able to determine the ownerships.

However, the word responsio is merely a 'response' in the strictest sense: something that a person says in reply. It is not like the English word "answer" which can also be a revelation of truth. I recommend you find a different word to express this. One such word is revelatio, -onis, but it is non-Classical.

Then, let's complicate matters further: "the answer to one of the great mysteries of life". "responsio uni aenigmatum(?) magnorum vitae"?

The genitive of unus is unius, not uni. Because there is no gender distinction in the genitive case unius, it could very well be mistakenly paired with vitae. For this reason, I suggest you either change the wording or use something other than a partitive genitive.

Your options for wording are rather limited, but you could say something like "One answer to the great mysteries of life".

As an alternative to the partitive genitive, you could use the preposition ex. Responsio unius ex vitae aenigmatibus magnis would mean basically the same thing as your original sentence. With vitae between the preposition and prepositional object, there would be no confusion as to where the possession lies, though it could go at the end of the sentence as well.

Still another option might be a subtler distinction of word order: Responsio unius magnorum vitae aenigmatum. The enclosed genitive makes it more likely that it modifies the words which enclose it.

Of all of these, I think the one with ex is the best and clearest.

If the above is correct, then surely "I remember the answer to one of the great mysteries of life" would be, "responsionis uni aenigmatum magnorum vitae memini"? Would anyone other than the person uttering that (very philosophical) remark actually be able to make any sense of it? Granted, a simple declaration of "heureka!" would be much simpler and more to the point, but still... :lol:

Well, my teacher always used to say that if it isn't clear then it isn't good Latin. I beg to differ, but I think it is silly to be cryptic when there are usually more understandable ways to say things :)
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
User avatar
benissimus
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2733
Joined: Mon May 12, 2003 4:32 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Postby ricelius » Tue Jun 15, 2004 8:51 am

However, the word responsio is merely a 'response' in the strictest sense: something that a person says in reply. It is not like the English word "answer" which can also be a revelation of truth. I recommend you find a different word to express this. One such word is revelatio, -onis, but it is non-Classical.


I had a slight suspicion; after all, "responsio" sounds too much like the Enlish "resonse". I wonder if "solutio" would be better in this context?

unus/unius - mea culpa!

Thanks for your input! By the way, this question was entirely theoretical, I was merely wondering. In real life, there should be another way to word this without confusing the reader. But I think it's interesting that it is theoretically possible to stack multiple genitives together like that.
ricelius
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 3:16 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

response/answer, etc

Postby sesquipedalianus » Sun Jun 20, 2004 2:06 pm

What about using "ratio"? Would that be a good idea?
sesquipedalianus
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2003 4:16 pm
Location: UK


Return to Learning Latin

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 60 guests