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Is this construction normal?

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Is this construction normal?

Postby Jacobus » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:08 pm

Salvete

I have just been flicking through the units of Lingua Latina that I have completed fully, and I have a question about a construction used in one of the earlier units.

"In villa multi servi habitant. Dominus eorum est Iulius."

Actual translation: "Many servants live in the villa. Julius is their master".

Unless I've missed something along the way, the literal translation of the second part of that sentence is "The master of them is Julius".

My question is: Is this construction normal in Latin? Why does the Latin not say "their master is Julius"? Is it just something to do with the text being graded, and wanting to be clear with the case endings? I am sure there are loads more examples of these sorts of constructions that I simply haven't noticed yet, but it'd be nice to know whether this is actually natural Latin.

Gratias multas ob auxillium.

Vale
Jack
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Re: Is this construction normal?

Postby paulusnb » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:30 pm

There is nothing wrong with this sentence. The first word of a latin sentence is in a position of prominence. You can switch it around all you want, depending on the context.
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Is this construction normal?

Postby Imber Ranae » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:56 pm

That's the only way to say it in Latin, since there are no third person possessive pronouns in Latin equivalent to the English words "his", "her", "its", and "their". In other words, you have to use the genitive of is,ea,id, i.e. eius (his,her,its) in the singular and eorum/earum (their) in the plural. There is a third person reflexive possessive pronoun suus,-a,-um, which is fully declined, but that would mean "his/her/its/their own" and thus wouldn't work in that sentence from Lingua Latina.

Actually, there is one other way to render that last sentence. You could use the dative of possession, which uses the dative in tandem with the verb esse to indicate that the subject belongs to the dative noun: i.e. Dominus eis est Iulius. An equivalent literal translation into English would be "The lord to them is Julius", but that's obviously ungrammatical English.
Ex mala malo
bono malo uesci
quam ex bona malo
malo malo malo.
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Re: Is this construction normal?

Postby Jacobus » Sat Feb 21, 2009 3:54 pm

That's interesting. Thank you for the explanation.

Jack
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Re: Is this construction normal?

Postby benissimus » Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:51 pm

On a sidenote, the English possessive adjective "their" is in origin a genitive plural.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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