Textkit Logo

Trouble with a verb

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

Trouble with a verb

Postby john_the_mackem » Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:25 pm

Hi everyone, I'm thinking out loud on something which is troubling me a little, hopefully you guys can put me right if I am talking rubbish.

Like a lot of English football clubs, my local team (Sunderland) have a Latin club motto which appears on the crest.
The motto is:

Consectatio Excellentiae

Now, I have always assumed (prior to starting to learn Latin) that the English translation was roughly "Continuing Excellence", because I just assumed consectatio was latin for consecutive or continuing.
I decided to have a look in my Latin dictionary, and sure enough, Excellentiae was "Excellence", but I couldn't find Consectatio. I DID find the following closely sounding entry:

Consector, atus [1] v. dep. go towards; seek after; imitate; pursue; hunt down; attack

This puzzled me somewhat. I naievely assumed that the stems of all first conjugation verbs ended in "o". Then I could simply add an ending to give the word the correct tense, etc. e.g:

Consecto - I pursue
Consectas - You pursue
Consectat - He \ She \ It pursues
Consectamus - We pursue
Consectatis - You (plural) pursue
Consectant - They pursue

So from this, at absolute beginner level Latin, I would say that "Consectamus Excellentiae" would be the correct motto, because (being a football club) the present tense ending of "we" would be the most accurate, because a group of people are currently pursuing.

But of course, it's never that simple. I couldn't figure out why a 1st conjugation verb was ending in "r". I figured it had to do with the dep in the dictionary entry. Quick look in the front shows me that it stands for deponent. Quick look on the internet tells me that a deponent is a verb that is: "active in meaning but passive in form." Now I ain't got no idea what that means, but I started to think it through.

If you think about it, "we pursue excellence" doesn't sound quite right for a football club. It would sound better if it was something like "pursuing excellence". I am very poor at the technical side of language, but I am assume saying "pursuing" rather than "we pursue" is passive. But it is different from the past tense, because you aren't saying "we were pursuing".

So I don't know where the "tio" came from, but I think I have figured out that it the passive way of describing something active, and in this case, consectatio means "pursuing".


P.S. I know it's a crap motto, but I didn't make it up!
john_the_mackem
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 12:38 am

Postby Ulpianus » Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:46 pm

It's a good question, which raises some quite complicated topics. I'll try to explain, but don't worry if some of it seems confusing at the moment. Two things are going on here.

The first is the "atio" ending. Your initial thought was correct. It is commonly used to produce an abstract noun from a verb, like "ation" is in English (automate => automation; deprive => deprivation). The result is a noun in the third declension (-atio -ationis). So "consectatio" means "the keen pursuit", and "consectatio excellentiae" means "the keen pursuit of excellence". Consectatio is not a verb, but a real noun derived from a verb.

Now deponents. Most verbs as you will find have both active and passive forms. So where "amo" mean "I love", "amor" means I am loved.

A deponent, however, is a verb which uses passive forms (i.e., it looks as if it ought to be passive), but has an active meaning. So whereas one would expect "consector" to mean "I am keenly pursued" it actually means "I keenly pursue".

In the short term, this is a nuisance, because you have to learn these oddities. In the long term it can be useful in some situations. For instance, Latin has no active past participle -- no way of saying "having loved". Perfect participles are normally passive: "amatus" means "having been loved". At this point, however, deponents can become useful, because since they are active in meaning when passive in form, their past participles are active: consectatus means "having keenly pursued" not "having been keenly pursued".
Ulpianus
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: London, UK

Postby john_the_mackem » Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:19 pm

Thanks Ulpianus, that clears up quite a lot. I think it is a little over my head at the moment to go and hunt out these deponents, but I certainly understand what they are now, and I am not so afraid of them.

The whole thing seems a little crazy. I was looking for consectatio (which I now know is a 3rd declension abstract noun) in the dictionary, but I found consector, which is a verb, but not a standard verb, rather one which is passively describing something active.
I would be scratching my head if you hadn't used the example of automate -> automation. I didn't realise until now what the technical effect of whacking "ation" onto a word was. Automate is a verb ("I will automate the process"), but Automation is a noun ("I specialise in Automation"), although the verb is still clearly implied in the word. (I suppose you could complicate it even more by throwing in the adjective "automatic".)

So...
Consector is a verb; "[to] pursue"
Consectatio is a noun; "[the] pursuit"


They said when I first decided to learn Latin that it would force me to learn the technical side of English, something which I have always been poor at. Nouns, verbs, adverbs, pronouns.... all lost on me. I think they were right! You've got no hope of learning Latin if you don't really understand English.
john_the_mackem
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 12:38 am

Postby Ulpianus » Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:41 pm

Yes. It does get complicated ... even more complicated than you may initially realise, since "to pursue" (the infinitive) is also, when you think about it, a noun-like form of the verb (it can do the same job as a noun: consider "The cat is lovely" "To sleep is lovely"), and there are other ways of changing a verb so that it can do a nounish job too, which you will learn in due course. Each of these different ways of transforming a verb to a noun has a distinctive range of uses; one uses them in different circumstances -- just as one would use "To automate machinery is a good thing", "Automating machinery is a good thing" and "The automation of machinery is a good thing" with slightly different shades of meaning, though Latin is probably rather stricter than English in its rules as to which form is appropriate. Each one takes a verbal form and converts it for use as or in place of a noun. But each is subtly different.

There's quite a good book called English Grammar for Students of Latin. Not too expensive and might be worth a look.
Ulpianus
Textkit Member
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:14 pm
Location: London, UK

Postby john_the_mackem » Fri Mar 19, 2004 1:14 am

There's quite a good book called English Grammar for Students of Latin. Not too expensive and might be worth a look.


I shall certainly investigate, and thanks very much for the help.
john_the_mackem
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 12:38 am

Postby Episcopus » Fri Mar 19, 2004 5:37 pm

I should but casually suggest "Latin For Beginners" by Dr. Benjamin L. D'Ooge available hence. Blackburn Rovers' motto rules: "Arte et Labore", also Spurs': "Audere est facere" - To dare is to do, with Audere interestingly being semi-deponent. That's to say its parts are audeo, audere, ausus sum; "ausus eram" = "I had dared". Deponent in its perfect.
User avatar
Episcopus
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 2563
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2003 8:57 pm


Return to Learning Latin

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 41 guests