Friends or not

Here you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Latin, and more.
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Friends or not

Post by pavelek » Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:00 pm

Hello everyone
Latin is a deceptive beast.There it is, written in words we can so easily recognise-even having the decency to be written in our own alphabet.But set about translating and you soon find you are not dealing with any pushover. There are so many words that have a similar look to English words which you think you can skim over -"guess it,it can't be far wrong"-then you just lose the whole flow of the sentence.Later you drag yourself to look up the words in a dictionary and discover the vital difference.
This is tiring!
For example this Horace I read today
Illuc praevertamur, amatorem quod amicae turpia decipiunt caecum vitia, aut etiam ipsa haec delectant
When I read it first I thought it meant the lover is deceived by his lady's blemishes.Eh?Why should he be deceived by them? More likely deceived by her beauty?
In fact it means "fails to see", and is rather charmed by them.Then it makes sense
I've often thought that one of the most annoying things about Latin is its huge number of false friends that give you the impression that you think you can translate it easily but leap into it without the proper study and you get sunk in it like quicksand.
"Hey-you know Latin-translate that ", my wife prods me as we walk round an old church.And fool that I am I cave in to my own vanity and start trying to sift the meaning from a votive tablet.Usually of course I get the general meaning but some words always remain obscure though annoyingly familiar. She is used to the fuzzy explanations I come back with and nods with a [why-can't -he just-learn-ONE-language] sort of expression.
Is this a common feeling or did I learn Latin the wrong way?

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Re: Friends or not

Post by adrianus » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:05 pm

It is common, surely. Being led astray is just the consequence of not being fluent. Who among us in this forum is fluent in latin? Who is never deceived?

Nonnè res communis id quod narras? Non facundè loqui est decipi. Quis inter nos sodales deceptus erit nunquam?
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.

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Re: Friends or not

Post by Qimmik » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:18 pm

This isn't really a "false friend": decipiunt means "deceive," but it's used here in a somewhat convoluted or extended way, that's not uncharacteristic of Latin poetic usages. The blemishes are said to deceive the blind lover because he fails to see them. in other words, the blind lover's failure to see is an implication of decipiunt, not its meaning. Note that decipiunt is active, with vitia as the subject--it's the lover who fails to see.

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