Whodunnit? (oh_meow) wrote in linguaphiles,

Latin sentences to check

I have some Latin sentences here I'd like people to check over. I haven't done this kind of thing in about 8 years, so I feel pretty rusty and that I'm probably overlooking something important or making silly basic mistakes. Yes, I know the actual content of the sentences is pretty odd.

1) susurrus erat.
2) susurrus sub pavimento emanabat.
3) ut susurrum audiremus, in pavimentum recuibimus.
4) susurro continuatus, hortos intravimus.
5) susurrus cessandus est.
6) timebamus ne susurrus non cessaret (particularly not sure about the tenses on this one)
Tags: latin
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ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 12:03:56 UTC 3 months ago Edited:  June 1 2014, 12:05:11 UTC

1) Grammatically correct nonsense. (The whisper was.)
2) Correct, but very weird choosing of words.
3) Correct.
4) Incorrect. I cannot imagine, what was you trying to say. When the whisper continued, we went to the gardens? If so, it's susurro permanenti hortos intravimus. Better "hortum" - was there really more than one garden? Continuare does not mean to continue in the meaning "to carry on", but "to arrange in a row or behind something else".
5) Gramatically correct, but very weird. Cessare much more means "to stay lazily, to stop yourself doing something". (Carrus moveri cessat - (slowly) stops moving.) You hardly can say you have something or somebody to stop themselves doing something - not in Latin; not using this word. Moreover, the gerundivum means you have somebody who will do it, even if you don't name them in the sentence. If you want to say "the whisper has to stop" without saying there is somebody who will look to it, it's much more better to use "necesse est": Necesse est, ut susurrus desinat. Don't say "desinendus est", because it's really nonsense. If you for some reason must have gerundivum there, say: susurrus sistendus / silendus est; but the version with "necesse est" is much more neat.
6) Gramatically correct, but you should use comma between sentences. Ne non is correct; the same meaning would have "ut". Tenses are correct. I'd use completely another verb, as in the previous sentence - timebamus, ut susurrus desinat.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 12:38:00 UTC 3 months ago

4) I really did mean "While the whispering continued, we went into the gardens". I think permanenti would be a good substitution.

5) timebamus ne susurrus non desinat

They were intended to be the kind of grammatically correct nonsense you get in grammar exercises, which is why I had to shoehorn gerundives, ut clauses, ablative absolutes and verbs of fearing into there. It probably does look very strange out of context.

My friend runs a writing prompt site, where you are given prompt words each month (often from another language), and you have to produce something. This month the themes were "susurrus" and "flash fiction". The idea was to have something like a tedious grammar exercise with susurrus shoehorned into sentences with various latin grammar features, but which led on from each other to advance the story. Each sentence has a 100 word paragraph in English which goes with it to continue the story.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 12:39:46 UTC 3 months ago

Anyway, thanks for the help!

ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 13:10:41 UTC 3 months ago

Wow, it sounds great!
Then I'd change the first sentence into something like "there was whisper" or "we heard a whisper".
5) desineret. The rule is, if you have a past tense (any of them) in the main sentence, you have to have con. imperfecti or plusquamperfecti there.
You're very welcome, I love playing like this.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 13:24:28 UTC 3 months ago

I was under the impression that "susurrus erat" *did* mean there was a whispering. On the other hand, I can't really recall any latin sentences I've seen where there wasn't an adjective or a location in the same sentence as sum.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 13:38:04 UTC 3 months ago

maybe susurrus exstabat?

ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 14:08:18 UTC 3 months ago

No, not really. It means just "whisper(ing) was" without defining what and where.
Susurrus ADerat is better (whispering was present), but the best is something like susurrus auditus est - a whispering was heard, or susurrus (quidam) apparuit - (a) whisper(ing) appeared.
Latin loves concrete verbs - much more than modern languages.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 16:34:13 UTC 3 months ago

of course! aderat was what I was thinking of. I didn't really want to specify where or when it was, which can be tricky in Latin. I tied myself in a few knots trying to think up an ablative absolute sentence where the two halves were done by different people.

ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 18:35:42 UTC 3 months ago

How exactly with the ablative absolute? I cannot imagine it.
(It's called "absolute", because no one from the sentence is connected with the agens of it, afaik; otherwise it should be ablativus temporis. Like: Caesare in Galliam veniente ver coepit - nice and neat ablativus absolutus; Caesare in Galliam veniente omnes Galli timere coeperunt - dubious, because timebant Caesarem, so it could be ablativus temporis or causalis or anything like this... but you already know this I presume.)
Latin can be very well impersonal or inspecific, but it's doing so very differently from modern languages: using passive and constructs like "opus est, necesse est, notum est". Too much of the verb "esse" (and its variets) does not work as one would like it - still something is (gramatically) missing in the sentence. One has to work their way around what one does not want to say with the most insane grammatical construct - the ones that the students fear most. :-D Plenty of conjunctives, accusativus cum infinitivo without meaning, because the real meaning is hidden very very deep in the structure, and such.
But if somebody or something is the real agens (like in 4) where it's the susurrus... well, of course it does not do itself, but you can personificize (is it a word? I'm not an English native speaker, just an university teacher of Latin) it, and then you made it technically an agens and so you can say that it "exists", "does" etc. - with concrete verb, and you still will very neatly leave out the real cause of the whispering - the real agens.
Wow... tl;dr... :-))

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 18:51:22 UTC 3 months ago

I meant more that my first instinct was to write something like "having heard the whispering, we entered the garden" then realised it was no good because of course we were doing both the actions.

The thing that always drove me nuts was when Roman writers used to leave out important words or information because they thought it would be obvious to another Roman and didn't need to be said, but of course it isn't always obvious to a modern person who speaks a different language.

My university Latin teacher always held that the Romans were rubbish at describing landscapes.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 18:52:26 UTC 3 months ago

Luckily I never had to do that much composition outside of grammar exercises, the classes mostly focused on translating and interpreting literature well.

ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 19:50:07 UTC 3 months ago

Yep. In my country, to study Latin in Uni (as a... well, this will be difficult, because I should say "subject" here, but it's rather a discipline) means at least five years of studying grammar, historical grammar, syntaxis, history, Roman law, poetics, stylistics... all this, so in the end, one is able to speak Latin, write a speech or a piece of poetry etc. Latin as a subject (just normative grammar and maybe some basic texts) is obligatory for all the Faculty of Art, but what knowledge of Latin could you have from three semesters?
Historians can then proceed to reading texts, but frankly, without good knowledge of syntaxis (not only the basics) and stylistics, it's a hell for them. Because sometimes you thing something is missing, but it's not, it's right there - between the lines, but with perfect signs and a map, too. :-)) If you only know the syntaxis and the stylistics.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 19:56:54 UTC 3 months ago

It was all counted under Classical Studies at my university. Essentially Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology were the same department. There were compulsory classes for all students in things like Augustan Rome or Epic Poetry, and then quite a large array of optional ones.

Here is the current prospectus. I was there 8 years ago, but not much has changed except some of the compulsory and optional classes have switched round. All full-time students have to do 120 credits per year. The structure of degrees here means you tend to get it all done in the 3 years.

http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/classics/DEPARTMENT_OF_CLASSICS_PART_2_AND_3_MODULES_2013-14.pdf

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 19:59:31 UTC 3 months ago

They only had 4 different levels for languages when I was there though. Level 4 was kind of the same as the current level six, but language classes were 30 or 40 credits or something, and I did an intro to Modern Greek that was basically levels 1&2 in 1 year.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 20:02:33 UTC 3 months ago

Is your native language Czech? I guess if your native language is English you get a bit of a head start, because there are so many words you can guess from etymology or academic/technical vocab.

ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 20:56:52 UTC 3 months ago

Yes, I'm Czech.
Well... a head start... yes and no, because if your native language is something as difficult and rare as Czech (from all the languages I know, only Ancient Greek is more difficult), you know that a) nobody in the world will probably understand you speaking your mother tongue, so you have to learn a foreign language (children start with it usually about 8 y.o., but it differs; the languages usually are English and something, mostly Deutsch), and b) you have very little problem with flexive languages such as Latin (Czech is a flexive language), because it's natural for you (I never expected anybody to can have such big problems with cases, until I met English Latinists and tried to explain the system to them... really difficult thing to grasp for a speaker of non-flexive language).
On the other hand, sometimes I wish to have more latinized vocab in my language, because it would be easier to understand a discussion in, say, English, without having to learn two or more sets of the same thing. :-))
Everything has its good side.

Well, all of our "language" disciplines have a sylabus like my Latin... but it's all very different from your system. You pick your discipline before starting your studies, than you do accepting exams to prove you are not a beginner (you have to have some basical knowledge of your discipline), than you study for 3 years (for a bachelor) or 5 years (for master degree) mainly your discipline. You are expected to pick a few subjects from out of your discipline (and some are obligatory for all the Faculty of Arts - two foreign languages, Latin, Philosophy - all basic courses), but still, you are mainly immersed in what subject you decided to study in the beginning. You can switch disciplines, but you have to do another exams of acceptance to do this. You can study any subject in all the fakulty you wish - as an optional and if you have fulfilled the so called prerequisities. For some of them, it's difficult. For example, this semester my colleague and I run an optional course - reflexions of motifs from ancient literature in the visual art of the following centuries. It was like "here is the source text in original, read it, discuss it (my part) - and here is the visual part, find the motif, discuss it (my colleague's part). Prerequisition was a knowledge of Latin. We had there a Visual Art student with basics of Latin... and the textual part was really hard for her. (Still, she does not have her exam, but she is hard worker, she'll do it, I trust her.)

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 21:06:14 UTC 3 months ago

I had a mediaeval Latin class in third year which turned out like that. Only 3 classics students wanted to do it, so they put us in the class for post-graduate Mediaeval History students. Problem was that we understood what the words meant, but had no idea what they were actually talking about (religious nit-picking and bickering mostly, or the Crusdaes), but the history students knew all the context, they just needed help with the language. I passed that exam by 1%. The exams for pretty much all the latin exams pretty much go

1) Here is a literary text. Translate it into English.
2) Write a commentary on the historical/literary context and significance.

Do two of these in 3 hours.

I was screwed on the 2nd part of the questions for that class! My brain doesn't seem to like theology.

oh_meow

3 months ago

oh_meow

3 months ago

ioanna_ioannina

3 months ago

oh_meow

3 months ago

ioanna_ioannina

3 months ago

ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 19:38:03 UTC 3 months ago

I'll try it, may I? Because of course it will be possible to translate, only probably not with a participle construction.
Or...
Well, certainly not with ablative absolute.
Quando/ubi primum susurrum audivimus, hortum intravimus.
or with my beloved cum that could be cum causale here:
Cum susurrum audivissemus, hortum intravimus.
or with participle (it'll not be ablativus absolutus, because it's us who is listening there, but ablativus temporis or causae):
Susurru (a nobis) audito hortum intravimus.
The first or second version is better, but all three (or four - without a nobis) versions are possible.

Hmm... landscapes... I was never reading the texts from this perspective. I'll look for it, thanks! Maybe there is some connection with their painting...
(And probably they just weren't interested, as I'm thinking about it. Save, maybe, Vitruvius.)

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 19:44:33 UTC 3 months ago

Because I lived in the UK, we often read texts about the invasion of Britain, and when it came to things like describing the very distinctive landscape of places like the south coast or Anglesey, they tended to fall very short and just kind of go "and here's some enemies to slaughter with one of our many verbs of killing!"

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Beachy_Head,_East_Sussex,_England-2Oct2011_(1).jpg

ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 20:01:26 UTC 3 months ago

Do you know which piece of my dear Caesar do I love the most?
Yes, that one about Britain.
'cause the defeat was so spectacular that even our Master of Lies Creative Rewriting could not write anything else than "we lost". :-D

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 20:09:12 UTC 3 months ago

I came. I saw. I . . . lost.

This is the thing the sentences were for:
http://storyboardmagazine.co.uk/2014/06/01/surussus-emma/

ioanna_ioannina

June 1 2014, 20:16:54 UTC 3 months ago

Yes! (And it wasn't my fault, of course, it was the... the winds and the damned chickens! Well, and the enemies. A bit. :-D But let's better talk about my near triumph, shall we? -- My dear Caesar in full glory, there. Love it.)

I was trying to find our course description, but the details are only in Czech, sadly. :-( (here is the last bit of English before the Czech starts)

Yay for "another sounding Saxon skeleton"! It's a very nice story you made with it.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 20:22:38 UTC 3 months ago

It's based on a real place: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishbourne_Roman_Palace

It features very heavily in the school Latin textbooks used here. (Although not so many schools offer latin these days)

http://www.cambridgescp.com/Upage.php?p=clc^oa_book2^stage15

Sadly the lovely illustrations aren't in the online version. The books were written in the 60s by someone who was clearly having a lot of fun ("Grumio the cook delights all the slave girls" anyone?), and they even get used for things like jokes in Dr Who.

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 20:24:13 UTC 3 months ago

That's a really hardcore theoretical syllabus!

oh_meow

3 months ago

ioanna_ioannina

3 months ago

oh_meow

June 1 2014, 20:55:28 UTC 3 months ago

This is what the pictures in the textbook look like. http://www.northallegheny.org/cms/lib4/PA01001119/Centricity/Domain/1086/lighthouse.jpg

oh_meow

3 months ago

ioanna_ioannina

3 months ago