accusative of possession??

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Smythe
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accusative of possession??

Post by Smythe » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:38 pm

So, I was reading this Wikipedia article about an early Christian who went on a pilgrimage and wrote about it in late classical Latin. In the article there was the following sentence:
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Similarly, the use of ipsam in a phrase such as "per mediam vallem ipsam" (classical Latin "through [the] middle of [the] valley itself") anticipates the type of definite article ("péri su mesu de sa bàdde") that is found in Sardinian ("sa limba sarda").
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I don't know that I would ever have read that as "of the valley". I would instead have translated it: through the middle valley itself (as if there was more than two valleys to choose from).

Why does valley seem to act like the genitive even though it is in the accusative?

I did a cursory search in my Wheelock's textbook and on the internet for "accusative of ... " and didn't really find much that was helpful.

Thanks in advance for your guidance!

P.S. The Latinist in question was named Egeria. Here is a link to her work: http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/egeria.html ... I read the paragraph that the sentence was taken from and the context would make me think middle *of* the valley but I don't know if intuition is enough to go on.

Vershneim
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Re: accusative of possession??

Post by Vershneim » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:39 am

The case of vallem isn't what's giving it that "of" meaning; it's the adjective medius. Vallem is accusative because it's the object of per. Medius just acts weirdly and sometimes (possibly always? Perhaps someone else could weigh in on that) means "middle of." So you could also say "In media via ambulo," and it could mean "I'm walking in the middle of the road." Thus you can see it's not the accusative that's producing the "of."

I seem to recall that in Greek the ambiguity is resolved by means of article placement, but Latin of course has no such recourse, so I'm not sure whether it's just context or something syntactical that makes the distinction.

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seneca2008
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Re: accusative of possession??

Post by seneca2008 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:01 am

Smythe wrote: ...."per mediam vallem ipsam"

I don't know that I would ever have read that as "of the valley". I would instead have translated it: through the middle valley itself (as if there was more than two valleys to choose from).
Why does valley seem to act like the genitive even though it is in the accusative?
Mediam does not "act wierdly" it agrees with vallem and ipsam, the three words are taken together with per.

Medius can have many meanings(in the middle, in the midst, mid, mean, middle) see here http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/mor ... la#lexicon

If you are confronted by three valleys then perhaps you would go through the middle valley. If there is one valley what could medius mean? Clearly it means "in the middle of".

This shows the danger of trying to infer what a latin phrase might mean from an English translation without having a grasp of Latin grammar. You would be better working your way through Wheelock rather than trying to dip in. In the long term it will save you time because you would have seen, for example in this case, that what you were searching for didn't make sense.

There is no ambiguity here, Vershneim, and I think you must be a bit confused in your recollection of Greek.

Edit: In the last sentence I wrote Smythe when I had intended Vershneim. Apologies its now corrected.
Last edited by seneca2008 on Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: accusative of possession??

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:05 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:01 am
Smythe wrote:
This shows the danger of trying to infer what a latin phrase might mean from an English translation without having a grasp of Latin grammar. You would be better working your way through Wheelock rather than trying to dip in. In the long term it will save you time because you would have seen, for example in this case, that what you were searching for didn't make sense.

There is no ambiguity here, Smythe, and I think you must be a bit confused in your recollection of Greek.
Well stated. The "problem" is that English uses a variety of expressions covered by the one word medius in Latin (the technical term for this is "semantic range"). In medio monte... How would you render it? Are we talking about the Lonely Mountain and the Dwarf king's throne inside? No, normally it means something like "halfway up the mountain." In addition to Seneca's excellent advice, having a good sense of the context and learning the various usages of the vocabulary item in question is key.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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Smythe
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Re: accusative of possession??

Post by Smythe » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:49 pm

Thanks all for your advice.

So, when i stated "I read the paragraph that the sentence was taken from and the context would make me think middle *of* the valley but I don't know if intuition is enough to go on.", really, intuition *was* enough to go on.

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Ser
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Re: accusative of possession??

Post by Ser » Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:33 pm

Similar words would be summus/a/um 'the top of', īnfimus/a/um 'the bottom of' and extrēmus/extrēma/extrēmum 'the end of'.

Summus mōns 'the top of the mountain', summa columna 'the top of the column', summa senectūs 'very old age' (lit. "the top of old age"), summum cacūmen 'the top of the peak'.

Īnfimus collis 'the foot of the hill' (lit. "the bottom of the hill"), īnfima āra 'the bottom of the altar', īnfima quercus 'the bottom of the oak'.

Extrēmus liber 'the end of the book', extrēmus digitus 'the tip of a finger', extrēmus pōns 'the end of the bridge', extrēma ōrātiō 'the end of the speech'.

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Re: accusative of possession??

Post by Smythe » Fri Jul 26, 2019 7:25 pm

Thank you, Ser. That was quite helpful.

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