Hedging in Latin

How does one hedge their language in Latin? One option might be a relative clause of characteristic (with the subjunctive!)

  • So far as I know, she never left the house: quod sciam, numquam domum abiit.
  • From what I have heard, he enjoys three cocktails every evening: quod audīverim, tribus mixtīs cotīdiē fruitur.
  • She’s an idiot, at least in my view: stulta est, quō modō videam.

The Essential AG: 535d

There Was a Time When…

Quite closely relate to expression of existence / non-existence are expressions of past time, which make use of the phrase est cum and fuit cum, which may be translated as ‘there was a time when…’ Like the phrases that describe existence, these make use of a relative clause of characteristic (w/ subjunctive!) to describe an indefinite period of present/past time.

  • est cum …. present subjunctive
  • fuit cum …. imperfect subjunctive
  • est cum in omnis virī aevō domum parentis linquat: there comes a time in every man’s life when he must leave the home of his father
  • est cum omnibus deceat: there is a season for all things
  • fuit cum mihi quoque initium requiēscendī fore iūstum arbitrārer: there was a time when I thought a beginning of rest would be justifiable on my part
  • fuit cum nōn altior meīs genibus essēs: there was a time when you were no taller than my knees

The Essential AG: 535an3

Expressions of Existence

In Latin, expression of existence and non-existence are handled by a Relative Clause of Characteristic (subjunctive!).

Expressions of Existence

  • sunt quī discessum animī ā corpore putent esse mortem: there are some (there exist some) who think that the departure of the soul from the body constitutes death
  • erant quī hōc cēnsērent, there were some of this opinion
  • quis est quī id nōn maximīs efferat laudibus: who is there that does not extol it with the highest praise?
  • sunt quī orbem arsum modō videre velint: some men just want to watch the world burn.

Expressions of Non-Existence

  • nihil videō quod timeam: I see nothing to fear.
  • nihil est quod adventum nostrum extimēscās: there is no reason to fear our arrival.
  • nēmō est qui SuīLocō tamen ūtātur: no one uses MySpace anymore.

A&G add that with these phrases the indicative is possible but less common, and point out that certain grammar books reference these phrases as ‘Relative Clauses with an Indefinite Antecedent.’

The Essential AG: 535a, 525an1, 535an2

Cardinal Numerals, 1-10

There are four central aspects to the Latin numeral:

  • The cardinal: ūnus, duo, trēs, quattuor
  • The ordinal: prīmus, secundus, tertius, quārtus
  • The distributive: singulī, bīnī, ternī, quaternī
  • The adverb: semel, bis, ter, quater

From 1-10, only cardinals 1, 2, and 3 decline.

A few things to consider:

  • ūnus will often mean ‘only’ (cf. sōlus) and occasionally ‘the same’ (cf. idem)
  • where ūnus means ‘only,’ it may initiate a subjunctive clause of characteristic (the only man who may: ūnus cuī liceat.)
  • the compound ūnus quisque = every single one
  • the compound ūnus + superlative = the one most (the one most learned man, ūnus doctissiumus)
  • duo may also have the plural genitive duum
  • the word ambō (both, which retains the long ō of the lost Latin dual) declines like duo
  • the compound ūnus + superlative = the one most (ūnus doctissiumus, the one most learned man)

Here’s a chart I found showing the descendents of the Latin cardinals:

(courtesy N.S. Gill; http://tiny.cc/eoiqmw)(For those of you who are curious, there are between 30 and 40 standing Romance languages, but we’ll get to numbers above 10 next post…)

The Essential AG: 133-4

Uses of Quam (Subjunctive)

Uses of Quam (part 2 of 4)

Summary of Use

Quam has many and various uses in Latin

It appears most commonly as the standard coordinating conjunction of comparison between two adjectives, adverbs or clauses (part 1)

  • Two things compared with quam will always appear in the same case
  • There are better and worse (common and less common) ways to compare with quam

The phrases quam ut, quam quī, quam sī and quam (alone) may also initiate a subjunctive statement (part 2)

  • These include clauses of purpose, characteristic and comparison

Quam and its compounds have several other functions (part 3)

Subjunctive Uses of Quam

The phrases quam ut, quam quī and (rarely) quam alone, following a comparative, initiate clauses of characteristic

  • The statues of Canachus are too stiff to represent nature: Canachī sīgna rigidiōra sunt quam ut imitentur.
  • They cut the threes too large more a soldier to carry: maiōrēs arborēs caedēbant quam quās ferre mīles posset.

These often fit the English construction too x to y (too big to fail)

These phrases may also initiate result clauses

  • He endured all rather than betray: perpessus est omnia potius quam indicāret.

Quam sī may initiate a clause of characteristic without a comparative

  • This should be translated as if or as though
  • He sleeps as if he were a stone: dormit quam sī saxum esset.
The Essential AG: 535c, 571a

Famous Phrase: bonam ego quam beatam me esse nimio dici mavolo

[I would rather be called good than well-off] -Plautus, Poenulus, 303

quam_uses_p2.pdf