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Greek Kalendas

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Greek Kalendas

Postby Elouise » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:40 pm

For homework I have a couple of phrases to translate and explain. Everything was running smoothly until I came to 'Ad Kalendas Graecas'. I sort of 'googled' and the most of explanations said that this saying basically means 'never', because greeks never had 'Kalendas'. Okay, I understand that.
But how did Romans say 'Kalenda'? Just 'Kalendae'? or 'Calendae'?
I'm sort of confused. Are there two possible spellings such as 'Kalendae' and 'Calendae'? Is this noun only in plural or is it also a singular? Is it a noun of 1st declension? And if I'm not wrong, the preposition 'ad' is only used with accusative?

I'm sorry if it's hard to understand what I'm asking, I'm having a hard time to think of the right words, because I'm slovenian. It's my first year learning Latin and I find it very hard. There's so many declensions, conjugations and prepositions to learn. I tend to get confused very easily.
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Re: Greek Kalendas

Postby adrianus » Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:24 pm

Hello, Elouise. Welcome.
Salve, Heloisa. Adventum tibi gratulamini.
elouise wrote:But how did Romans say 'Kalenda'? Just 'Kalendae'? or 'Calendae'?
I'm sort of confused. Are there two possible spellings such as 'Kalendae' and 'Calendae'? Is this noun only in plural or is it also a singular? Is it a noun of 1st declension? And if I'm not wrong, the preposition 'ad' is only used with accusative?

Yes, Kalandae or Calandae—there are two spellings, with K from the Greek (a Greek letter, that becomes a Roman one but only in words of Greek origin) or letter C. Yes,—this noun is only in the plural. Yes,—it's a first declension noun. Yes,—"ad" takes only the accusative.
Ità,—sunt orthographiae duae, cum K litterâ Graecâ vel C. Etiam,—numeri pluralis solùm est hoc nomen. Sanè,—primae declinationis est. Certè,—"ad" praepositio accusativo casui servit.
Your English is very good.
Approbè anglicè scribis.
Vide http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/pt ... %3D%238841
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Greek Kalendas

Postby timeodanaos » Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:59 pm

adrianus wrote:...with K from the Greek (a Greek letter, that becomes a Roman one but only in words of Greek origin)...

As far as I remember, K was used in early Latin before A (and perhaps O), while C was used before I and E, Q before U, all as the same consonant and have nothing to do with Greek except the obvious inheritment of the Greek alphabet through those darn Etruscans.

The letter K is also used in the seldom seen name Kaeso, at least as the abbreviation.

Normal treatment of Greek words is to assimilate the word with Latin spelling, pronunciation and declension.
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Re: Greek Kalendas

Postby NuclearWarhead » Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:19 pm

In the earliest Old Latin epigraphy, the symbols C, K and Q were all employed for both /k/ and /g/, the choice of symbol being determined by the vowel following: Q stood before roundes vowels (EQO 'ego'), C before front vowels and consonants (FECED 'fecit', CRATIA 'gratis'), and K before A. This last detail is continued onto the classical period in the few forms where k is retained, chiefly Kalendae 'the Kalends'. Otherwise, the use of C spread at the expense of the other two letters. The persistence of Q in its single environtment is hard to explain (as is the ouster, a thousand years later, of the straightforward English spelling cw by the ANglo-Normal preciosity qu)


Andrew Sihler. New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin. Oxford 1995.
Fiat iustitia et pereat mundus.
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Re: Greek Kalendas

Postby timeodanaos » Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:31 pm

Well, well, if I shouldn't be trumped by a student from Århus. I'm usually the one to quote Sihlers in Copenhagen :p
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Re: Greek Kalendas

Postby NuclearWarhead » Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:03 am

Quoting Sihler is very commendable. ;P I hope that in a couple of years I'll start on the PhD 4+4 thing about something Protoindoeuropean-ish. :)
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