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Expressing directions in Latin

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Expressing directions in Latin

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:35 pm

Salvete omnes!

Currently I am trying to understand how to express directions in Latin. I have already created quite a list of these, but one thing is causing me problems: how to deal with directions like NE, SE, SW, and NW.

Now, the Nuntii Latini has adjectives like these:

  • septentrionalis-orientalis
  • orientalis-meridionalis
  • meridionalis-occidentalis
  • septentrionalis-occidentalis

It is nice to have adjectives, but I am interested in expressing things like:

  • to the northeast, in the northeast: with verbs of rest (e.g. is, lie, etc.).
  • to(wards) the northeast, (or simply) northeast: with verbs of movement (e.g. go northeast).
  • from the northeast: with verbs of movement.

How do you do that? I know, there is the classical

spectant [sc. Belgae] in septentrionem et orientem solem.

But, that sounds rather heavy-handed, and how can such a construct be adapted for use with verbs of movement (2nd of the above examples) or for indicating origin. I am able to come up only with really cumbersome sentences like:
  • Marcus contendit ad regionem, quae spectat in septentrionem et orientem solem.
  • Marcus venit e (or ab?) regione, quae spectat in septentrionem et orientem solem.

Isn't there anything a little shorter? Imagine a sentence like this: To the northwest of country xxx lies abc, to the southwest is def, to the southeast ghi, and to the northeast jkl. Using the above constructions would be, hmm, unwieldy, and outright ugly.

Valete,

Carolus Raeticus
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Re: Expressing directions in Latin

Postby adrianus » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:56 pm

Salve Carole
Sic est, ut credo:

ad aquilonium = to[wards] the northeast; in the northeast = in aquilonio
ad caurinum = to[wards] the northwest
ad africum = to[wards] the southwest
ad euronotum = to[wards] the southeast
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: Expressing directions in Latin

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:26 pm

Salve Adriane!

Sorry, that I am answering only now. Thank you for the hint, but the situation is a little bit more complicated. The names of the winds, as the ancient authors give them, are quite unreliable. A quote from Schott's Cursus Mathematicus:

Schott wrote:A quatuor Terrae quae cardinalibus plagis spirant quatuor Venti principales, qui inde Cardinales vocantur, nempe ab Oriente aequinoctiali Subsolanus, ab Occasu aequinoctiali Fovonius [sic], a Meridie Notus sive Auster, a Septentrione Septentrio sive Boreas. His interponuntur alii quatuor, dicti laterales, spirantes ab ortu & occasu solstitali hyberno, & aestivo. Hos varii varie appellant, ego [!!!] appello Eurum, Africum, Caeciam, & Caurum seu Cotum. [...] Circa quemlibet horum quatuor lateralium Nautae qui Mare Mediterraneum navigant, collocant alios duos, sicque in pyxide nautica sexdecim constituut ventos: at qui Oceanum navigant, inter quemlibet horum sedecim interjiciunt adhuc alium, sicque in universum 32 constituunt ventos. Nomina eorum apud diversos, praesertim Latina, tam sunt varia, ut quem sequaris, nescias.


Even in 17th century books the names of the 32 winds are not really standardised in Latin. There are attempts to give ''modern'' names (e.g. by Guillermo J. Blaeu or Bernhardus Varenius), giving expressions like Septentrionalis versus Orientalem [with ventus or plaga understood] (North by East), Orientalis Orientalis Meridionalis (East-southeast), as Blaeu gives them, or Aquilo ad Orientem (North by East) and Austr-Austr-oriens [I'm not kidding!] (South-southeast), according to Varenius' naming scheme. All in all, rather tricky, but I am still looking into it.

Vale,

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Re: Expressing directions in Latin

Postby adrianus » Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:59 pm

Yes, variation in usage happens (as it does in English or other languages historically), but nevertheless they're often shorter and prettier names. You do sometimes need a key for interpretation. And all the modern variations above are understandable and therefore practical. (I had to study 17th-century maps and portulans for aspects of my Ph.D. Embrace the lovely complications.)
Sunt quidem multae variationes (et in multis linguis per aevis), verumtamen istis versionibus saepe breviores amoenioresque ea nomina, et clavem quae rem claram facit nonnunquam requiris ut directiones planè scias. Intellegibiles autem, dein utiles, omnes variationes modernae suprâ citatae. (Studium artis cartographorum et hydrographorum septimo decimo saeculo fuit mihi pars provinciae specialis doctrinae gradui doctoris. Contortiones dulces ames.)
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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