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Comparison between suus and is (Exercise 117)

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Comparison between suus and is (Exercise 117)

Postby jsc01 » Thu Feb 19, 2004 5:26 pm

I was wondering if someone can straighten me out on some word ordering.

Compare the following two sentences (#5 and #7 from ex. 117)

English: "Another woman is calling her chickens (not her own)".
Key's translation: Alia femina eius gallinas vocat.

English: "The Gaul praises his arms (not his own)".
Key's translation: Gallus arma eius laudat.

In both cases we are using the non-reflexive possesive eius. However, in #5 the key places eius before the noun it possesses and in #7 it is placed after. Why the difference? Doesn't a possessive normally follow the noun it possesses? In other words, I agree with key's translation in #7 but not in #5.

Also, in #6 English: "The Gaul praises his weapons (his own)", the key translates this as Gallus arma sua laudat. In this case the reflexive is positioned after the noun it possesses. I would think it would come before (sua arma).

Does any of this really even matter?
Last edited by jsc01 on Fri Feb 20, 2004 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby benissimus » Thu Feb 19, 2004 6:47 pm

Genitives standardly follow the nouns they modify, but are quite often placed before the word, especially for emphatic effect. While you may not be used to it in Latin, it should not seem too foreign to you considering that all English genitives precede their nouns (e.g. "The woman's chickens").

Possessive Adjectives usually come directly after the noun they modify.

Does any of this really even matter?

I would not worry about it if I were you. These shifts in order do not create any significant change in the meaning of the sentence, and eventually you will get a much better feel for the minute rearrangements of emphasis on your own by reading than by someone else explaining it to you.
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Feb 19, 2004 11:43 pm

Gallus arma sua laudat

This means "The Gaul praises his weapons"

Put sua in front and it would be more like "his own weapons", not only portraying the Gaul to praise his weapons (the sua necessary as a possessive reflexive to convey this meaning although in some cases where the same meaning is evident by context the sua may be omitted altogether) necessary but pointing it out for emphasis purposes. Context here to discern exactly wherefore would evidently be required.

Sua laudat Gallus arma

might mean that some one has said "Cuius laudat Galli arma?" or "Galli laudant more aliorum arma", Gauls by custom praise others' weapons.

In response to this some other guy could say "Minime!" (heeelll no!) "Sua laudant Galli arma" They praise their own weapons.

As you can probably see, much depends on context.
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Postby jsc01 » Fri Feb 20, 2004 2:42 pm

I would not worry about it if I were you. These shifts in order do not create any significant change in the meaning of the sentence, and eventually you will get a much better feel for the minute rearrangements of emphasis on your own by reading than by someone else explaining it to you.


Ok, will take your advice on this and try not to let slight word ordering differences bother me. I just wanted to make sure that there was no subtle rule that I was overlooking.

Thanks
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Postby Ulpianus » Sat Feb 21, 2004 2:08 am

I know it's hard, coming from an English background, to grasp the idea that word order is much more flexible in Latin; that there are more tendencies than rules.

I thought it might help to show how a bit of "real" Latin exhibits this flexibility. Here is (very slightly adapted to prune some complexity in one place) part of Caesar B.C. I 13. Some of the constructions may be unfamiliar, but I think you'll be able to follow it. I've added two translations -- one deliberately over-literal, the other smooth. The background is that Caesar is approaching a town, Auximum, that is being held by Pompeian troops commanded by Attius Varus:

Adventu Caesaris cognito{1} decuriones Auximi{2} ad Attium Varum frequentes conveniunt{3}; docent{4} sui iudicii rem non esse{5}; neque se neque reliquos municipes{6} pati posse{7} C Caesarem imperator{8} oppido moenibusque{9} prohiberi{10}; proinde{11} habeat rationem{12} posteritatis et periculi sui{13}.

The coming of Caesar being known, the decurions [town magistrates] of Auximum to Attius Varus thronging gather; they explain the matter to be not of their judgment [i.e. outside their control]; neither they nor the other townsfolk to be able to bear that Gaius Caesar a general from their town and walls be prohibited; so he [i.e. Varus] should have a thought concerning the future and his danger.

When it was known that Caesar was coming, the decurions of Auximum went to meet Attius Varus en masse. They explained that events were outside their control. Neither they nor the other other townsfolk were able to tolerate Gaius Caesar, a general, being prohibited from their town and walls. So Varus should give some thought to the future and his danger.


1. Ablative absolute, setting the scene. Most Latin sentences start with some sort of express link to what went before.

2. Typical sentence order: subject first. Genitive comes after the noun (again typical).

3. Frequentes is an adjective which agrees with decuriones -- but it has become separated from its noun. Broken rule. Why? Because it really has adverbial force here -- it describes how the decurions gathered, so it is brought close to the verb (which is in its conventional place at the end of the sentence).

4. A broken "rule": the verb comes at the beginning of the sentence. Why? Perhaps for emphasis, perhaps to keep the action flowing, perhaps because we are about to go into a long accusative/infinitive stretch which it "covers".

5. Sui (reflexive pronoun) here before its noun.

6. Reliquos is an adjective, but it comes before its noun. Another broken rule. Why? Well (1) it is usually so (reliquos and other adjectives of quantity often do) and (2) "rest" is almost the noun here (as in English "rest of the townspeople") though Latin uses a different construction, the adjective is not really describing the noun.

7. Pati is a passive infinitive with active meaning. It's hard to speak of "main verbs" in long section of oratio obliqua like this; but the "main" infinitive in this section is posse, which in turn qualifies pati, which in turn qualifies prohiberi, which doesn't come till the end. So by ordinary standards we have quite a tangle of verbs here. 'Prohiberi' is being save till last, probably for emphasis.

8. Imperator (a noun) functioning almost as an adjective: a usual position when nouns "of office" are attached to a name. This is an unusual use of nouns in Latin, but it is an established idiom with generals, consuls and the like, and this is the usual order.

9. Effectively an indirect object (though I'm not sure that is strictly the right term grammatically) of the verb that is to follow: as such a typical position.

10. Passive infinitive whose "subject" (in the OO) is Caesar. See note above of pati posse.

11. Linking word. See note 1.

12. Broken "rule": a verb in the middle (albeit the start of the middle) of a sentence.

13. This time the reflexive pronoun comes after its noun (compare 5): probably a more typical position.

So there you have what I can assure you is excellent real Latin which is showing very considerable flexibility in word order, including with regard to the placement of reflexive pronouns and verbs.
Last edited by Ulpianus on Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Episcopus » Sat Feb 21, 2004 12:56 pm

You do like Caesar!

I find Caesar difficult to read because of the Vocabulary and its length. I find Virgil easier...although it takes a bit of time to become accustomed to his word order!

Have you seen that passage in A&G, where they change direct speech to indirect speech in the past? I think that might be Caesar...
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Postby Meowth » Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:02 pm

i've got some doubts about my answers :

altera femina suas gallinas vocat
alia femina eius gallinas vocat

can't it be : altera femina eius gallinas vocat instead of alia ? does it make sense ?

and... ii servi miseri eorum dominum desiderant... is it good ?
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Postby benissimus » Sat Sep 25, 2004 12:04 am

Meowth wrote:i've got some doubts about my answers :

altera femina suas gallinas vocat
alia femina eius gallinas vocat

can't it be : altera femina eius gallinas vocat instead of alia ? does it make sense ?

and... ii servi miseri eorum dominum desiderant... is it good ?

What is it supposed to say? All of those sentences make sense, but they have different meanings.
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Postby Meowth » Sat Sep 25, 2004 3:10 am

from book :

4. the other woman is calling her chickens (her own)

altera femina suas gallinas vocat

5. another woman is calling her chickens (not her own)

alia femina eius gallinas vocat

all of these according to answer key, but i'm asking : could it be "altera femina eius gallinas vocat " instead ?

to be honest, i'm still have problems on when to use alius or alter...
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Postby benissimus » Sat Sep 25, 2004 4:32 am

Meowth wrote:from book :

4. the other woman is calling her chickens (her own)

altera femina suas gallinas vocat

5. another woman is calling her chickens (not her own)

alia femina eius gallinas vocat

all of these according to answer key, but i'm asking : could it be "altera femina eius gallinas vocat " instead ?

to be honest, i'm still have problems on when to use alius or alter...

alter usually implies that there are only two ("the other"), alius is indefinite ("another"). This makes sense when you realize that alter is originally a comparative adjective, and comparatives compare the higher degree of two things (like saying "more other"). Because the English part of this exercise says "another woman", the author clearly wants you to use the less definite adjective alia; if he wished you to use altera he would have said "the other woman".

While this is not a mistake in the key, there is no need to include the word femina in these translations, because it is encapsulated by the feminine adjective.
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