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reflexive possesives. curse them.

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reflexive possesives. curse them.

Postby Smythe » Sun May 23, 2010 3:02 am

So, having some problems with the reflexive possesive adjective in the second sentence:

Aemilia in cubiculō suō ancillās suās exspectat, neque ancillae veniunt; itaque Aemilia eās vocat:
“Syra et Dēlia! Venīte!” Ancillae, quae dominam suam vocāre audiunt, ex cubiculō Iūliae exeunt et in cubiculum
Aemiliae intrant.

Aemilia in her (own) bedroom, waits for her (own) maids, and the maids do not come; therefore Aemilia calls them:
"Syra and Delia! Come!" The maids, who hear their (own) mistress calling, from Julia's bedroom leave and enter into Aemila's bedroom.

1) Is that a reasonably accurate translation?
2) If so, why?

Let me explain: According to Wheelock "The reflexive pronoun of the third person, however, is the adjective suus, sua, suum (his (own), her (own, its (own), their (own). This must be carefully distinguished from the nonreflexive possesive genitives eius, eōrum, eārum, which DO NOT (emphasis mine) refer to the subject."

So, in the clause "quae dominam suam vocāre audiunt': a) Dominam is most definitely not the subject and b) suam seems like it should be plural (I think it should agree with ancillae - this is, perhaps, where I am going astray).

I want to translate the phrase as "who hear the mistress herself calling". I think that this is wrong because instead of 'suam', it should instead be 'sē' for that translation to be correct.

Any help is appreciated.
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Re: reflexive possesives. curse them.

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun May 23, 2010 3:30 am

Smythe wrote:So, in the clause "quae dominam suam vocāre audiunt': a) Dominam is most definitely not the subject and b) suam seems like it should be plural (I think it should agree with ancillae - this is, perhaps, where I am going astray).

Your translation is right. The thing "suam" modifies "dominam" but refers back to "ancillae". So "suus" agrees with "dominam" and so it's singular. I know what you mean with it should agree with "ancillae", but it just refers back to the maids and Latin doesn't distinguish between "her (own)" and "their (own)", so "suus" doesn't reflect whether the possessor is singular or plural. To give examples, I mean

Caesar suos liberos amat = Caesar loves his children
Iulia suos liberos amat = Julia loves her children
Romani suos liberos amant = Romans love their children

I want to translate the phrase as "who hear the mistress herself calling". I think that this is wrong because instead of 'suam', it should instead be 'sē' for that translation to be correct.

Latin doesn't use the reflexive here, where you're basically intensifying the noun. You need to use "ipse", so "quae dominam ipsam vocare audiunt". "se" would be reflexive and mean "who hear the mistress calling herself."
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Re: reflexive possesives. curse them.

Postby Smythe » Sun May 23, 2010 9:13 am

Huh. Thanks so much for your answer. I still feel that I came to the correct translation by accident. This is the sort of thing that takes practice to get a feel for, I expect. Only another twenty chapters or so and I will be perfect. ;)

-smythe
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Re: reflexive possesives. curse them.

Postby ptolemyauletes » Sun May 23, 2010 10:19 am

I appreciate your problem with wanting the 'suus' to modify the maids. After all, it is 'their' mistress.
Another way to think of it is to understand that the word itself 'suus' takes care of who it belongs to, that the maids are taken care of by the very choice of the word 'suus'.
Using 'suus' tells you that something in the sentence is belonging to the maids. Now the question is, what is it that belongs to the maids? The only way to answer this is to find out which word in the sentence agrees with 'suus' (suam in this case).
Therefore, 'suam' will agree with 'dominam' in number, case and gender.
If it agrees with the maids, then you will have no idea what belongs to the maids.

Wheelock in my opinion does a poor job of explaining 'suus' and 'eius'. I say this because I learned Latin with Wheelock, and I was confused about this point for a long time, until I worked it out for myself.

Caesar canem suum amisit. = Caesar lost HIS dog.
Caesar canem eius amisit. = Caesar lost his (someone else's) dog.
Caesar canem eorum amisit. = Caesar lost their dog.
Caesar ipse canem amisit. = Caesar himself lost the dog.
Caesar canem ipsum amisit. = Caesar lost the dog itself, or Caesar lost that very dog.

Essentially, 'suus' works exactly the same as 'meus', 'tuus', 'noster,' and 'vester'. The difference being it is used for the 3rd person possessive, both singular and plural.
if 'meus liber', becomes 'meum librum', then 'suus liber' becomes 'suum librum'
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Re: reflexive possesives. curse them.

Postby Smythe » Sun May 23, 2010 6:45 pm

Thanks very much. Your examples are very illuminating.

As a side note, I'm actually studying using Orberg's Lingua Latina with a copy of Wheelock for back-up in case I get to a sticky part. That's kind of cheating since you're supposed to keep pushing on through LL until you do get an intuitive feel for the language. I am sometimes impatient, though.
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Re: reflexive possesives. curse them.

Postby furrykef » Sun May 23, 2010 11:48 pm

Smythe wrote:That's kind of cheating since you're supposed to keep pushing on through LL until you do get an intuitive feel for the language.


To be honest, I'm not a fan of the idea that you should try to learn everything in Lingua Latina (or anything else) from context alone. I think Lingua Latina is written entirely in Latin for two reasons: one, a single edition can be published and used throughout Western Europe and other places where those languages are spoken with no translation work needed. Two, it serves to illustrate to the student that Latin really isn't all that hard if it's not presented in a difficult way. After all, you can read most of the book without even needing to translate it into English, right? :) The value of the second lesson isn't to be underestimated: if it weren't for Lingua Latina, I may never have picked Latin back up.

But I think trying to figure everything out from context is too extreme. It causes much confusion and possibly demotivation with little practical benefit. Likewise, the other extreme -- running to the dictionary or grammar book the very instant you find something unfamiliar -- can be harmful, because it's no fun to look stuff up while you're trying to read something, and it doesn't teach you how to read using context.

By the way, I'm actually doing Wheelock (Chapters 1-40; I'll have the Loci Antiqui / Immutati for later) before doing Lingua Latina, though I'd read the first 15 or so chapters of LL before I started going through Wheelock. I find LL much easier to read now that I have the first 36 chapters of Wheelock under my belt, and it sure beats trying to decipher a Catullus poem. :)

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Re: reflexive possesives. curse them.

Postby Smythe » Mon May 24, 2010 1:38 pm

furrykef wrote:
But I think trying to figure everything out from context is too extreme. It causes much confusion and possibly demotivation with little practical benefit.


I tell you what, though - I really, really like it. I do sometimes have to bust out a textbook or ask for help here in the foums, but I've found that if I reread the passages enough with a lot of concentration, I am able to grasp almost all of what is being taught. That being said, I am devoting about a full week to each chapter (30 minutes to an hour each day), so perhaps my progress is slower than if I were going to class.
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