Saturday, November 9, 2019

Some Non-English Perks of Latin

Features English is missing - but most other languages have
NativLang | 8.XI.2019

2:22 "legimus tres libros" vs "legimus trinos libros".

3:50 -ne after first word (or after preposition and first full word) = open yes and no
num before first word = expecting negative answer
nonne before first word = expecting affirmative answer

Trinosne libros legerunt? (Did they read three books each?)
Num trinos libros legerunt? (They didn't read three books each, did they?)
Nonne trinos libros legerunt? (They read three books each, didn't they?)

And double questions:

Utrum trinos legerunt libros an tres in toto? = Trinosne legerunt libros an tres in toto? (Did they read three books each or three in total?)

Latin starts the sentence with question words, which is a beautiful parallel to the question particles of yes and no questions.

Between S, P and Complement there is no fixed word order anyway, so you can parallel Q and A word order even with accusative question pronouns.

Quem necasti?
Neminem necavi.

Whom did you kill? No one I killed. (Tolkien would have liked that sentence in English, see "Helms too they chose.")

5:36 pluit, serenum est, ninguit, vesperascit
(it rains, it is fair weather, it snows, it's getting late)

5:58 Ibimus carris cum mercatoribus
We went with chariots with merchants

Instrumental = Ablative only
Comitative = Cum + Ablative

Features lacked in both English and Latin:
  • evidentials except for separate verbs (sometimes adverbs)
  • politeness (tu = any sing thou, vos = any several you), Erasmus of Rotterdam called it a barbarism to call one person "vos" and said grammar distinguishes singular from plural according to whether the person or persons are in fact singular or plural, one or more of them (see De Conscribendis Epistulis)
  • ser / estar distinction

Features rare but in English : having both w and th (also there in Welsh).

Feature perhaps unique to English : sixteen tenses (Germanic languages usually have 8, English added a continuous vs simple distinction, which by the way is also kind of found in Welsh ... except Present tense is always continuous : Yr yddwyf fi'n hoffi coffi = I like / love dark matter, literally "I am loving coffee")

Wait, be in a place, adesse with dative is possible.

Sum mercator, assum foro.
I am a merchant, I am at the market place.

Also reverse, abesse.

Sum miles, absum a foro.
I am a knight, I am away from the market place.

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