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quick question about neque

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quick question about neque

Postby Smythe » Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:45 pm

In the following colloquia, I have a question about how neque is used:

Libanus: "Sed decem et decem sunt vīgintī. Vīgintī nōn est parvus numerus. Familia mea est magna!"
Dēlia: "Nōn magna, sed parva est -- neque tua est familia!"

I understand that neque can be neither/nor /or. Dēlia is saying that 20 isn't great, but small. Then she says 'neither/nor/or is your family'. Or at least, that's how I read it. I know that what is meant is that '20 isn't great, but small - and so is your family'.

Is this written incorrectly, or am I reading it incorrectly? Her basic statement is 'the number 20 is small' and then she adds a clause saying 'nor is your family' I can only see neque referring back to that statement and in so doing, it doesn't make sense. Shouldn't she be saying 'itaque' - 'and so is your family'?

Thanks!
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Re: quick question about neque

Postby Damoetas » Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:38 am

There's a few points to mention here.... First, neque/nec at the beginning of a clause is usually equivalent to "and ... not" (or some other negative) in English. (Latin avoids starting a clause with et + a negative.) So that sentence could mean, "And neither is your family," or "And your family isn't [large] either."

However, that little bit of dialogue is ambiguous as written. Because of the word order, I first took it as, "And the family isn't yours either." Without knowing what came in the preceding context, it would be hard to say. I think you're right in noting that this is an awkward back-and-forth mix of negative and positive statements.

Lastly, itaque isn't used like English "so" in sentences like, "John is tall. So is Bill." Latin uses quoque or et ("also") for that. Marcus longus est. Titus quoque longus est. (or) Et Titus longus est.

One more thing: don't be afraid to say "big" or "large" for magnus. It doesn't always have to be "great" - in fact, that often makes it sound a little too grandiloquent in English. (Although that's not what your question is about; but I just thought I'd throw it in there!)
Dic mihi, Damoeta, 'cuium pecus' anne Latinum?
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Re: quick question about neque

Postby Smythe » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:15 am

Damoetas wrote:However, that little bit of dialogue is ambiguous as written. Because of the word order, I first took it as, "And the family isn't yours either." Without knowing what came in the preceding context, it would be hard to say.


Dammit. You're right. Your first intuition is correct. It was my expectation of what she was trying to say that threw off my translation.

Previously, in the colloquia, this exchange took place:

Libanus: "Mea quoque familia magna est."
Dēlia: "Tua familia? Nōn tua, sed Cornēliī familia est. Num cēterī servī Cornēliī tuī servī sunt?"
Libanus: "Familia dominī meī est familia mea!"

So, yeah, in retrospect, she was referring back to an earlier part of the conversation in that last clause and I didn't catch it.

Thanks very much for your help!

As to itaque, I suspect I'll get more experience with it later. I had just looked it up in the dictionary today after I ran into this stumbling block.
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