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"We were born to lose"

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"We were born to lose"

Postby Dingbats » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:48 am

Which of these is a proper translation for "we were born to lose"?

Nati sumus ut perdamus.
Nati sumus ut perderemus.

The first sentence relies on the fact that sumus is present, the second one on the fact that nati sumus is perfect. Which is correct?
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Postby benissimus » Mon Dec 20, 2004 12:17 pm

The second one is better for the intended meaning. The first one suggests that you are using a present tense sumus with a noun/adjective natus "son"... "we are sons in order to lose"... or something like that. The second option alleviates that ambiguity.
Last edited by benissimus on Mon Dec 20, 2004 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Dingbats » Mon Dec 20, 2004 12:55 pm

Thanks! Is this way always the best way, or do both work? Like, say, "I was seen so I might not go home" (makes no sense), would that be translated as Visus sum ne domum irem and not Visus sum ne domum eam, or can you use both?
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Postby Mulciber » Mon Dec 20, 2004 1:20 pm

'Perdere' means 'to lose' in the transtitive sense, i.e. to lose [something].

To lose as in 'to be a loser/failure' might be better translated as decidere or deficere.

Just a thought.
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Postby Dingbats » Mon Dec 20, 2004 1:22 pm

'Perdere' means 'to lose' in the transtitive sense, i.e. to lose [something].

To lose as in 'to be a loser/failure' might be better translated as decidere or deficere.

Just a thought.

Thanks.

Still: *points at previous question*
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Postby benissimus » Mon Dec 20, 2004 2:49 pm

Dingbats wrote:Thanks! Is this way always the best way, or do both work? Like, say, "I was seen so I might not go home" (makes no sense), would that be translated as Visus sum ne domum irem and not Visus sum ne domum eam, or can you use both?

Both constructions occur, but if the main clause is in the perfect the subordinate clause usually goes into the imperfect tense (for same time or future action). The other construction, perfect main clause with present subordinate, occurs sometimes when the perfect is thought of as being in close relation to the present (translated by "have/has ____").

This second construction is sometimes just the result of using the verb esse with participial nouns/adjectives, as with natus est ut... "he was born so that..., he is a son so that..."; madefacti sunt ut "they were made wet so that..., they are wet so that..."; nota est ut... "she became known so that..., she is famous so that...". If such a thing occurs in the main clause then we may consider the main clause to be in the present, and the following subordinate clause in the present subjunctive can then be considered to be in accordance with the normal sequence of tenses. This of course does not apply to all or even most sentences with perfect main clause and present subordinate clause ;)
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Postby Dingbats » Mon Dec 20, 2004 3:54 pm

Thanks a lot for your help, benissime! :D
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Postby adz000 » Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:07 am

Just a little expanding on the terminology.

The Latin perfect is actually two different tenses masquerading as one:
a "true perfect" and a "historic perfect" (terms differ). This is a distinction that has important ramifications.

If the verb represents a "true perfect", that is the verb is an action that happened in the past and the the emphasis is on the result continuing into the present, then primary sequence is used (the present subjunctive).

The English perfect is most often a "true perfect". There is a real difference between "I played ball" and "I have played ball". If you said "Yesterday I have played ball" it would probably sound wrong ("Yesterday I played ball" sounds fine). You use the true perfect in a sentence like, "I have played ball and I know what I'm doing". In other words, the emphasis is on the result of an action in the past that continues to affect the present (one terribly awkward way of rephrasing this would be: "I am in a state of having played ball").

Latin represents this kind of perfect with the perfect tense, and it is treated nearly as a present verb. That's why it takes the present subjunctive in sequence of tenses.

---

The "historic perfect" represents an action that happened in the past and was completed in the past with no reference to present time. This is the usual tense in historical narrative: "They marched to the city, fought the enemy, and beat them." There's not much difficulty with it. In Latin the perfect tense is also used to represent this, and in these cases the action clearly belongs to the past, and so takes secondary (aka "historic") sequence: the imperfect and pluperfect subjunctive.

Many languages preserve the distinction; we do in English, and the Greeks had a perfect tense (true perfect) and an aorist for historical narrative. Since Latin doesn't, you have to be especially careful when you're working with a perfect. As a general rule of thumb about 70% of perfects will be historic perfects.

(NB. Things get even more tricky when the past participle has been worn down into an adjective. For example, take amare.
amatus est. can represent three distinct thoughts:
(a) He was loved. (historic perfect)
(b) He has been loved. (true perfect)
(c) He is beloved. (here amatus is just an adjective that can mean 'beloved')
You can't just fumble your way through this since these are three vastly different ideas. Occasionally in these cases, where the participle is also an adjective, you'll see a classical author do what the grammar tells you never to do: use the perfect of esse. So amatus fuit would at least exclude the possibility that the action occurred in the present.)

The real difficulty in Latin is not with nouns and their declensions, but with verbs. And it's not that Latin has too many tenses and moods, but too few. You're probably due for a long review of sequence of tenses if you don't understand this need (take a look at how many different time relations the pluperfect subjunctive can represent in historic sequence!).
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Postby Dingbats » Tue Dec 21, 2004 7:51 am

Thanks a lot for your long reply! That helped me!
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