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Negative passive periphrastics

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Negative passive periphrastics

Postby Titus Marius Crispus » Wed Jul 26, 2006 6:00 am

I am a bit confused about how negative passive periphrastic sentences work. The future passive participle contains the notion of obligation. So, for example, "Carthago non delenda est" appears to me to mean something like "Carthage is not needing-to-be-destroyed", or in other words, "Carthage doesn't need to be destroyed".

However, I would think that many English speakers would assume "Carthago non delenda est" to mean "Carthage must not be destroyed".

Which is the case? I could find no mention in the Allen and Greenough. Does anyone know of any compelling primary source evidence?
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Postby Kasper » Wed Jul 26, 2006 6:21 am

Salve Tite,

you will have to excuse if my answer is completely off the mark, I'm rather easily baffled by phrases such as 'passive periphrastic'. In addition recently I have apparently been unable to distinguish an adjective from a pronoun.

Anyway, delenda is not a future passive participle but a gerundive (unless it's an adjective, of course). Such a fancy apparatus combined with a form of "esse" infers an the idea of an obligation, or in this case a negative obligation. Bibendum est = one must drink or perhaps more correctly "there must be drinking" (the passive thing about the gerund(ive)).

So similarly, delendum est = there must be destroying.

Add Carthago and non to the equation and you are absolutely right: Carthago non delenda est = Carthago must not be destroyed (perhaps "ought not to be destroyed")

As you can tell I have no primary sources, but well... a spade is a spade is a spade.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby bellum paxque » Wed Jul 26, 2006 8:45 am

The question, I think, is whether Carthago delenda non est is closer to "Carthage must not be destroyed" or to "Carthage does not have to be destroyed." In other words, we're asking if there is obligation NOT to destroy it or if there is not obligation TO destroy it. I tend to think that, as long as the non modifies est, it is the latter: "Carthage doesn't have to be destroyed."

But I'm not sure I can answer this with any certainty. I do know that it's common for a negative in Latin to be as strong as an assertion: non sine causa doesn't only mean "not without cause," but rather "with good cause." Non exigui momenti doesn't only mean "not of small importance" (i.e. of some importance) but rather "of great importance." Perhaps then, the seemingly neutral statement delenda non est (does not have to be destroyed) might mean more like "must not be destroyed."

On the other hand, it may be more common to use oportet Carthaginem non delere.

(Of course, you could always say Carthago conseruanda est!)

Perhaps more experienced Latinists can provide the definitive answer?
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Postby Iulianus » Wed Jul 26, 2006 10:11 am

bellum paxque wrote:On the other hand, it may be more common to use oportet Carthaginem non delere.


I agree wholeheartedly with bellum paxque's post, I would only like to add that in my humble opinion Romans would say

oportet Carhaginem non deleri

(not only does this remove a possible ambiguity as your version could imply an accusative cum infinitivo, but I also believe Romans tended to prefer passive constructions like these)
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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:49 am

I believe the exact translation of Cathago non delenda est is Carthage is not to be destroyed.
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Postby Carola » Wed Jul 26, 2006 10:49 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:I believe the exact translation of Cathago non delenda est is Carthage is not to be destroyed.

Yes, I agree
Last edited by Carola on Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby bellum paxque » Wed Jul 26, 2006 10:56 pm

oportet Carhaginem non deleri


Yes, that hadn't occurred to me. Thanks for the suggestion, Iulianus! And you're write about those passive constructions. My English professors at college would have a fit, I'm sure!

I believe the exact translation of Cathago non delenda est is Carthage is not to be destroyed.


The exact translation, of course, is not always the best translation.

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Postby Lucus Eques » Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:37 am

Not the best? In this context, why not? To say, ut puta, "Carthage needs to be destroyed" instead of "Carthage is to be destroyed" could not be a better solution; it would merely be inaccurate, no? There is a striking brilliance, I think, in the Latin and the English phrase alike, in its clarity and precision of meaning.
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Postby bellum paxque » Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:47 am

To say, ut puta, "Carthage needs to be destroyed" instead of "Carthage is to be destroyed" could not be a better solution; it would merely be inaccurate, no?


care Luci, if you'll look at my post, you'll see that I didn't suggest the "need to" construction. I said there are two options for Carthago delenda non est:

1) Carthage must not be destroyed.
2) Carthage doesn't have to be destroyed.

ex quibus the two options for the positive statement:

1) Carthage must be destroyed.
2) Carthage has to be destroyed.

Both of these are better idiomatic English - at least for me - than the sterile, stilted "Carthage is to be destroyed," which mostly sounds like a homework assignment ("this book is to be read by Friday").

Surely you don't translate things like faciendum mihi est as "It is to be done by me?" Why not the straight forward, vigorous "I've got to do it" or, less colorfully, "I must do it"?

I'll grant you, to be [past participle] exists in English, but it is not the best equivalent in most cases for the passive periphrastic in Latin. (nisi haec sit sententia: hic tibi liber inter crastinum diem legendus est!

Tendentiously yours,

David
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Postby mraig » Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:05 am

From a very very quick survey of some examples, it seems that the meaning is closer to "must not be..." than "doesn't have to be..."

Some examples:

Aeneid 3.169-70
surge age et haec laetus longaeuo dicta parenti
haud dubitanda refer.


the "dicta... haud dubitanda" seems to be "words... which must not be doubted" rather than "words... which don't have to be doubted"

Cicero Pro Roscio 33
Illud, quia in Scaevola factum est, magis indignum videtur, hoc, quia fit a Chrysogono, non est ferendum.


"non est ferendum" (a phrase which Cicero seems to like) must mean "cannot be endured" rather than "doesn't have to be endured". Here's an interesting example of the same idiom:

Cicero in Catilinam 1.18
Superiora illa, quamquam ferenda non fuerunt, tamen, ut potui, tuli; nunc vero me totam esse in metu propter unum te, quicquid increpuerit, Catilinam timeri, nullum videri contra me consilium iniri posse, quod a tuo scelere abhorreat, non est ferendum

(I guess this is 'Rome' personified, talking to Catiline).

The first "quamquam ferenda non fuerunt" is interesting, because it would make sense either way. You could argue that it is to be translated "these earlier things, although they didn't have to be endured, I nevertheless endured as best as I was able." But it could also be translated "...although they shouldn't have been endured, nevertheless..."

But the second 'non est ferendum' is unambiguous: "Now, however, the fact that I am completely in fear because of you alone... this must not be endured.

As I said, this is from a very cursory glance of a little Latin literature. But I found no examples where the meaning was unambiguously "doesn't have to be...", and many examples that either could be or had to be understood as "must not be..."
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Postby Lucus Eques » Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:37 am

Actually, by those examples that mgraig has shown us, it reinforces my argument that the more idiomatic English translations are inaccurate, and ultimately confusing. Sometimes it's not possible to use the precise English, or hardly preferred, and I agree with you, David, on that point. But for some of the simplest examples, including Carthage and Cicero, the idiom is not to be employed.
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Postby mraig » Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:02 pm

L.E. - I agree that in all of the examples I posted, "Not to be ____ed" gets the meaning across - but I don't see how that makes the more idiomatic translations (which I have tried to supply) inaccurate. In fact, in the first example from the Cicero 'in Catilinam' passage:

Superiora illa, quamquam ferenda non fuerunt, tamen, ut potui, tuli


I think the more idiomatic translation:

"Those things - although they should not have been tolerated - still, I tolerated as best I could."

Is clearer English than would be the supposedly more literal:

"Those things - although they were not to be tolerated..."

(The difference being one between negative obligation (the first translation) and negative necessity (2nd)

This brings us to larger issues of translation: even if the structure of a Latin phrase can produce a comprehensible English one, shouldn't an everyday Latin phrase be rendered into English that is equally commonplace?

Translation (I feel) should be not just about translating the meaning of the words, but also about translating their tone: a phrase turned into English should sound as normal or non-normal as it did in Latin.

And while the passive paraphrastic is a very normal way of expressing obligation in Latin, "_________ is to be _______ed" is, outside of certain contexts, not a normal way of expressing it in English; that's not how people talk to each other.

And there are plenty of such constructions in Latin: you COULD translate a phrase like "amicus est mihi" as "There is a friend to me", or a phrase like "opus est mihi cibo" as "there is need to me of food", but that's not English; it's translationese. Why not say, "I have a friend" or "I need food"?
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Postby bellum paxque » Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:05 pm

Some interesting examples from Flavius Caper's De Ortographia(about which I know nothing!)

"Ne quidem fieri potest" non dicendum, sed "ne fieri quidem potest," ut disiunctum sit. [...]
"Pulchra liburnica" dicendum, non "pulchra liburna."
(quotation marks my own)

Obviously, in this example, the non dicendum indicates an obligation not to do, not a lack of obligation. It's especially useful because of the contrast non dicendum...dicendum. Thus, "you must not... you must." (As opposed to "you don't have to... you have to.")

Here's an excerptfrom R. P. Martini Bresseri Boxtellani e Societate Iesv Theologici De Conscientia Libir Sex. Ad omnigenas conscientias dirigendas idonei. Antverpae, apud Viduam Ioannis Cnobbari anno 1638. - obviously not a classical source (!).

conscientia actualis est dictamen practicum, quod aliquid sit faciendum vel non faciendum, bene vel male factum


Note again, contrast between faciendum...non faciendum; what should be done, what shouldn't be done - moral obligation TO do, moral obligation NOT to do.

Here's Cicero from De Officiis (returning to holy ground)

Quid? quod Agamemnon cum devovisset Dianae, quod in suo regno pulcherrimum natum esset illo anno, immolavit Iphigeniam, qua nihil erat eo quidem anno natum pulchrius. Promissum potius non faciendum, quam tam taetrum facinus admittendum fuit.


Which I loosely render, "Better not to keep a promise than to commit so vile a crime." But literally it's suggesting that a promise ought rather NOT be kept than that a vile crime BE committed. (There's yuck for literality!)

Finally, into church Latin (of which I am but a poor scholar), a bit of Thomas Aquinas from [url=http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/qdv15.html]Quaestiones disputatae de veritate
a quaestione XV ad quaestionem XVII (in particular, Quaestio 17 Articulus 1)[/url]

Secundum vero alium modum applicationis, quo notitia applicatur ad actum, ut sciatur an rectus sit, duplex est via. Una secundum quod per habitum scientiae dirigimur ad aliquid faciendum vel non faciendum. Alio modo secundum quod actus postquam factus est, examinatur ad habitum scientiae, an sit rectus vel non rectus


I don't pretend to know all the terminology here, but it seems clear that the contrast of faciendum vel non faciendum means "what must be done or what must not be done," as in the previous example. I wasn't sure until I got to the rectus vel non rectus [scilicet depravus! -me] which seems to be a paraphrase of the former expression.

These are just a few of the results that came back from a google search. It sounds like there's a paper or two here, though (no doubt!) it's already been flogged to depth in a dissertation, probably buried in the vaults of some German university. Would that someone would post that powerful piece propounding the particulars of the passive periphrastic, in its negative permutation!

As to translation --

Translation (I feel) should be not just about translating the meaning of the words, but also about translating their tone: a phrase turned into English should sound as normal or non-normal as it did in Latin.


Mraig, I couldn't agree with you more!

With highest regards,

David Carruth
(cui instrumentum illud intterretis explorandi nomine Google pergratissimum et nunc et tempore futuro!)
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Postby bellum paxque » Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:45 pm

I hope this thread continues along the profitable path it has taken so far - unfortunately, I will be out of town for the next week and may not have much internet access.

fortuna, quoad reueniam, uobis surrideat!

David
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