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Ex 86, #9

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Ex 86, #9

Postby jsc01 » Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:12 pm

I have a question about number 9. We are to translate "The Roman people give money to the good sailors".

I translated this as Populus Romanus pecuniam nautis bonis dant.

The answer key agrees with my translations except it uses dat (singular) instead of dant (plural). What should be used here for the verb "give", singular or plural? I guess I feel that people is the plural of person and people is the object of the verb give in this sentence.

Can someone explain this to me? One would say "The people are giving money", not "The people is giving money". I am I wrong or is the key?

Thanks
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Postby benissimus » Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:32 pm

Populus is strictly speaking, a nominative singular and should take dat. There is however a plural used with singular nouns when referring to a collective, but I am not sure if this would be the case. So, the answer key is correct, but you may also be correct. I do hope someone else knows the answer.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby ingrid70 » Wed Jan 14, 2004 6:45 pm

Populus is singular (2nd declension ending in -us), therefore, the verb should be singular too.

There is something called 'constructio ad sententiam' or 'synesis' where a collective (singular) noun gets a plural number (see Allen and Greenough 286b), but I don't know how common that is. So I would use the singular in a beginners exercise book :).

By the way, in Dutch, the word for people, 'volk', takes a singular verb. In fact, in my English grammar, people is mentioned particularly as a word that looks singular but acts as a plural. So maybe it's English that's acting funny here :).

Hope this helps
Ingrid (who's always hoping for comments on the key :).
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Postby benissimus » Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:18 pm

People is actually a singular noun that usually takes a plural verb (weird). Contrary to popular opinion, it is not the plural of person, since both "people" and "person" can be turned into their own plurals by adding an S. In fact, the word "people" comes from the Latin populus and "person" comes from the entirely separate word persona.
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Postby jsc01 » Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:16 pm

In fact, in my English grammar, people is mentioned particularly as a word that looks singular but acts as a plural. So maybe it's English that's acting funny here
That I can believe. It seems English doesn't always act too logically.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not the plural of person, since both "people" and "person" can be turned into their own plurals by adding an S. In fact, the word "people" comes from the Latin populus and "person" comes from the entirely separate word persona.
I did not know that.

Thanks for clarification and information. You run into some interesting stuff studying Latin.
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:17 pm

Ah...yes...and we're but at the beginning... :shock:
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