translating 'should'

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translating 'should'

Post by dydx » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:18 am

Hello everyone,
I am currently working my way through wheelock's (chapter 36) and I feel fairly confident in what I've learned so far. However on the side just for fun I like to write my on little stories trying to use what I've learned. I've come across a question about the word 'should' while I'm making up sentences. For example "a man should be wise". I've considered two ways of writing this in latin one is the use of 'debere' as in "vir debet sapere" or something like that but it seems like that would be translated "a man ought to be wise". The second way I've considered is with the jussive subjunctive which although most commonly translated with "let" wheelock says 'should' can also be used as in 'vir debeat sapere'. So my question is, is either of these correct or both or neither? :lol:
Thank you for all your help,

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Re: translating 'should'

Post by modus.irrealis » Sun Feb 28, 2010 2:59 pm

It depends on what "should" means, since it covers a lot of ground. But in your sentence, "should" means "ought" so "debeo" is fine (although maybe "homo sapiens esse debet" would be closer -- "vir" specifically means "man" as opposed to "woman"), but there are other possibilities like "oportet".

As an independent sentence, "vir debeat sapere" I think could only mean "let a man ought to know" = "let it be the case that man should know" as a command.

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Re: translating 'should'

Post by Damoetas » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:28 pm

Decet also covers a lot of the territory of "should." If you haven't gotten to it yet, it's an impersonal verb that takes the accusative of the person and infinitive of the action. Dictionaries usually list it as "it is fitting/becoming/proper" (for X person to do Y thing). But this is quite close to English "should," especially if you're talking about what generally "ought" to be done or is "right" or "proper."

Decet hominem sapientem esse.
"It is fitting for a man to be wise," "A man should/ought to be wise."

Oratorem irasci minime decet, simulare non dedecet.
"It by no means becomes an orator to feel anger, it is not unbecoming to feign it."
(Example from Bradley's Arnold, their translation. You could just as well say, "An orator should by no means feel anger," although then it's hard to translate the second part in a parallel fashion.)

EDIT: PS: Gerundives can also express obligation:

Mihi eundum est.
"I should go," "I have to go."
(Example from New College Dictionary.)

But gerundives can't be used with forms of sum, as in your example. For those you have to use debeo, decet, or oportet.
Dic mihi, Damoeta, 'cuium pecus' anne Latinum?

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