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"only" as adj or adv? (+ imperative # and word ord

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"only" as adj or adv? (+ imperative # and word ord

Postby PhoenixRB » Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:05 pm

I only teach elementary Latin, so I haven't run across good examples of these issues yet.

I'm trying to translate the phrase "Drink only good wines" into Latin, but I'm perplexed over the "only."

In this sentence, would it be an adverb or an adjective (tantum or solus -a -um).

Secondarily, should I make the imperative "drink" singular (bibe) or plural (bibete)? What would the true classicist do?

Lastly, what about word order on a phrase like "I know nothing about wine"? Would nihil come before or after scio?

de vinis nihil scio

Thanks, folks!
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Postby MickeyV » Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:30 pm

Drink only good wines = vina bona sola bibite.
Drink only good wines = vina bona solum bibite.

Therefore, although formally an adjective, in the first sentence the function is actually adverbal. Compare: Soli Deo gratia.
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Postby benissimus » Thu Dec 04, 2003 8:13 pm

I agree with Mickey, in that it depends on whether you wish to focus on the wine or the act of drinking. For your situation, I think you should focus on the wine (e.g. vina bona sola bibe or change the order if you wish, to get a catchier rhythm... e.g. vina bibe sola bona).

Using a singular or plural imperative depends, of course, on whom you are addressing. I would choose the singular, since it is more personal and I have seen it more often in anecdotal phrases (disce aut discede, temet nosce).

"I know nothing about wine."
I think the best way to say it would be Nihil de vino scio, but Skylax is the true master of these matters =)
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Postby Episcopus » Fri Dec 05, 2003 1:53 pm

I agree with benissimo, Skylax is the man. Faire dos.
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Postby Skylax » Fri Dec 05, 2003 8:42 pm

benissimus wrote: but Skylax is the true master of these matters =)


(cough, cough) Aaaaaaaaaah... This is your Delphic Oracle speaking !

First, be all blessed and joyful.

Second, what the other Simple Mortals said seems meaningful to me.

Third, for "only", you can also use tantum, modo or tantummodo: Bona modo vina bibe/bibite (bibe if it is sort of general instruction and bibite adressing on a particular group, as already said).

Cf. CAESAR, Gallic War, 5, 41, 7 : unum modo respondit, "he made only one reply"; 6, 27, 3 : paulum modo reclinatae, "reclining only slightly".

Now, back to Olymp ! :wink:
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Postby MickeyV » Fri Dec 05, 2003 10:14 pm

Indeed, indeed. To what has been said by benissimus and Skylax, perhaps we could add that, depending on exactly the "shade" of meaning you require, you might also employ the subjunctive or future imperative. For the imperative hitherto explained actually enjoins the addressee, being a specific person or group, to comply instantly, whereas the subjunctive in the 2nd person singular addresses an indefinite group, dissociated from reference to time.

bibe/bibite hanc aquam= drink (now) this water
bibas hanc aquam = you (general "you") should drink this water

The future imperative sorts effects to the same extent, wherefore exactly it was used in laws, so as to make clear the prohibition or prescription was a general one:

bibito(te) hanc aquam.

Therefore, on closer inspection, it seems that you need a translation, not in the first place for a specific command in terms of person and time, yet a general one: "one is to drink good wines". In which case choice must be made between the future imp. and the subjunctive. As the fut. imp. is somewhat unusual -at least in classical Latin- the subjunctive seems best suited.

All the above with the provision that emendations by others might be made. 8)
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Good answers all

Postby PhoenixRB » Fri Dec 05, 2003 11:34 pm

These are truly helpful substantive answers, fellas.

I especially appreciate the references to classical literature and the sola's of the Reformation construction.

I'm still a bit unclear as to whether the only in question is serving as an adjective or an adverb. It seems to me that the only is more accurately limiting the type of wine, and therefore is an adjective.

With that in mind, sola stands out as a more likely choice than modo or tantum. Further, both modo and tantum show up in dictionaries with meanings like "merely" or "hardly." These adverbs seem not to speak to the exclamation point in my phrase, "Drink only good wines!"

I can see how these adverbs fit the intentions of the Caesar quotations above. However, they don't seem to be using only in the same sense I'm shooting for.

The notion of using an adverb in this case seems like it would imply that one should only drink wine as opposed to wasting it, using it as a cleaning fluid, painting with it, or tie-dying clothes with it. I want to make sure that the meaning is that when drinking, the type of wine should be good wine, to the exclusion of all other types (bad, or mediocre wines). So sola seems like a better fit to me. Is my reasoning flawed? (I mean that as an honest question, not a pompous exclamation.)


The subjunctive idea is intriguing. Would it hold up if the phrase were to be used as a sort of wine campaign slogan? (e.g. "Drink only Mogan-David Wines!") And no, I'm not actually editing text for a commercial marketing campaign here.[/i]
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Postby Moerus » Sun Dec 07, 2003 10:04 pm

I'm trying to translate the phrase "Drink only good wines" into Latin, but I'm perplexed over the "only."
In this sentence, would it be an adverb or an adjective (tantum or solus -a -um).

Secondarily, should I make the imperative "drink" singular (bibe) or plural (bibete)? What would the true classicist do?

Lastly, what about word order on a phrase like "I know nothing about wine"? Would nihil come before or after scio?

de vinis nihil scio

Thanks, folks!


Adverbs like 'tantum' only determine the verb. An adjective like 'solus', used predicatively, says something about the verb, but also about the noun it agrees with (mostly acc. or nom.).
So when you want to say 'Only drink' in opposition to an other verb, you shoud use the adverb. So, 'tantum vina bibe' means 'only drink wines' in opposition to for example 'only eat wines'. When you use an adjective like 'solus' it means 'the only thing I drink is wine' or 'Wine is the only thing I drink'. The difference mostly has to be made in the context. In this sentence I would use the adjective.

For the singular or plural of the imperative, you have to see the context! If you only have this sentence to translate without context, you can choose which one you prefer. But the plural is 'bibite' and not 'bibete'.

Latin is a flexible language, the word order is more free than in English or other languages. In this case you can choose where to put 'nihil'. The first word and the last of each Latin sentence has a little emphasis. So I would put it in front, but that's my own choice. It's up to you!

Curate ut valeatis omnes,

Heverleae scripsit Philippus L. M. Moerus.
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Postby Moerus » Sun Dec 07, 2003 10:35 pm

So each time you can translate 'only' into ' ... is the only thing that ...' you have to use an adjective! Thats a memory aid!

The difference between the imperative praes. and fut. is this:

Imperat fut is mostly used for things which are not to be done immediatly. So it mostly occures in texts of laws and oracles etc.

Normally you use the imperative praes.

The subj. gives an order in a more friendly way, i's more like a wish.

Sometimes the forms of the present imperative are missing, so then we can use the future imperative with the meaning of the present imperative or as a real futere imperative. The present imperative of 'scire' is not used in classical Latin for example. So in classical Latin you will always find 'scito(te)'. You find also the subj.

Iterum Moerus.
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Postby PhoenixRB » Mon Dec 08, 2003 2:58 am

Thanks.

This may be a dumb question, but...

Where might I read about this "future imperative" that you speak of (Moerus & Mickey)? I don't see it mentioned in Wheelock's.

Board-Protocol question: Should a question like this future imperative query really be made into a new thread?
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Postby benissimus » Mon Dec 08, 2003 3:51 am

Wheelock's cannot be relied upon as a grammar reference. You can use Allen & Greenough's from the Learn Latin link, which goes into everything you could possibly want to know about Latin. A&G is particularly useful for the more exotic topics such as this.
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Postby PhoenixRB » Mon Dec 08, 2003 4:47 am

Found that. Figured out the index. Whew!

Yep, that's a neat old tome. The Henle books that I'm using seem to be modeled after that same systematic format.

Thanks for the pointer.

I'm sure there are lists on this forum in which people have ranked their favorite resources. Any threads stand out in your mind(s)? Or do any lists (like those on Amazon) stand out as paragons of pedantic utility?

I'd search for them, but I'm a bit fuzzy on what terms to use.
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Postby benissimus » Mon Dec 08, 2003 5:09 am

Well, I think A&G is considered by nearly everyone to be the true authority on Latin grammar (in English). There are a lot of different learning books, but A&G is the grammar. Gildersleeves' also ranks high, but I don't know anything about it. So, since we agree, there isn't really and debate thread or anything. However, there have been some debates on which textbooks to use, particularly regarding Wheelock.
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Postby MickeyV » Mon Dec 08, 2003 10:52 am

Well, Phoenix, I have three relevant works, being the aforementioned A&G and Gildersleeve, and New Latin Syntax by E. C. Woodcock as well(indeed, an odd name, at least nowadays).

As to the merits of the books, one is to note that A&G and Gildersleeve are of the same nature: reference grammars. Therefore, they extensively treat on all relevant aspects of the language, yet are scanty as to explaining in depth topics which might be considered difficult. For this reason, these books appear accommodated to a more "advanced" audience, in the number of which audience surely you are to be counted. :)

The question is then: which book, provided I don't want to purchase both, comes most recommended? In short, I'd opt Gildersleeve. Notwithstanding A&G's excellence, as it treats -much in the same fashion as Gildersleeve by the way- all facets of syntaxis, Gildersleeve has a more systematic approach. On average, A&G seems to make the impression of a comprehensive collection of all rules regarding Latin syntaxis, somewhat irrespective of the underlying system of syntaxis, that is, somewhat dissociated from "the big picture", whereas Gildersleeve -though not in itself more expansive- presents the information in a more sensible, that is with more respect towards the system of syntaxis, order. In this sense, Gildersleeve has an added value over A&G.

As for Woodcock, this book -far from a reference work- seeks to elucidate in detail more specific subjects of syntaxis, discussing them in depth. Therefore, it doesn't treat all conceiveable topics, yet selects the most important ones, and treats them thoroughly. Thus, one might easily choose between A&G and Gildersleeve, yet regardless which one one chooses, Woodcock is, in my opinion, a very worthy addition, on account of its distinct nature.
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Postby PhoenixRB » Mon Dec 08, 2003 3:36 pm

MickeyV wrote:these books appear accommodated to a more "advanced" audience, in the number of which audience surely you are to be counted. :)

Woot! Oh, man... I think you should have used the "wink" smiley face. More appropriate still would have been a tongue-in-cheek emoticon, but I don't see one available.

You flatter me. I still haven't made it past the middle of Wheelock's. (Well, I have, but it was during a good Latin-In-A-Week intensive speed-course. It's designed to help me understand the beginning and middle chapters, and recognize the issues that arise in the last third of Wheelock's when I come to them again. Before that I'd only had Latin in High School, a long time ago.) So, I honestly hope one day to be in the rarefied air of such an advanced audience and as yourself and the other kind classicists who've responded on this thread.

Thanks to you all. The answers you have provided have done more than address the single issue about which I originally posted. I have been encouraged and inspired to set even higher goals for myself and the students under me.
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