Learning Latin

  • Thread starter Jame
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  • #26
But the work is translated!

That's equivalent to not being satisfied with playing Mozart with a new violin. Having to get an old one of that particular time. But really? You need to realize that even if you have that old violin, it still won't be the same. Styles of playing violin has change in subtle ways, and different from person to person, that no can recognize especially something hundred's of years ago. The writing style has changed, the use of the Latin language will also most likely be different, you will never get what those have got from it before. To try and think that you will is just fooling yourself.
This is true for scientific works, but as far as pieces of literature go, reading a translation as opposed to reading the original makes an immense difference. Some works are so hard to translate, that their translations are essentially new works altogether, or adaptations. This is true even for languages that are somewhat similar, such as Spanish and Italian... comparing Dante's Inferno in the two languages, for example.

Of course it's impossible to read Homer the way a native Greek of the time would have understood it, but reading it in the original language with a background on the history is about as close as one can come, and I don't see how this is a waste of time.

True, we'll never know what Mozart really sounded like... but if you had the chance to find out, wouldn't you want to?

Some adaptations are done well enough that they stand out on their own, sometimes they even surpass the original... but reading the Original is often worth it. I want to learn Greek and German because I want to read Homer and Kafka, not a scholar's interpretation.

For example: various translations of the Metamorphosis refer to Gregor Samsa as having been transformed to an insect, a vermin, a monster, etc.
From what I've read, the most accurate translation should refer to him as a bug (because Kafka was in fact playing with the definition of the German word-- as in "bug" as in "bother" as well). For one reason or another, translators choose different words. In Spanish, the translation of this pun, which is vital to the story, is impossible.

His flash story "Give It Up" makes use of a pun that is even more vital for the story to make sense (the word police, or guardian). Without it, the story makes no sense... it was only once I found out about this pun that is impossible to translate that I understood the meaning of the story.
 
  • #27
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My Latin teacher was aghast one day when one of my class asked him "Why do we learn Latin sir ?It`s a dead language,nobody speaks it,it`s no use. The classic answer came back -------- "That`s the BEAUTY of it boy!" A great answer.
 
  • #28
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Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.
 
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  • #29
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Consider this;I looked at a self teaching book on Swaheli and a common object in this African language can have sixteen tenses.Not a waste of time ,however ,as one tense could link it`s meaning to a dog.When you are referring to a Bihop the association can create a rich soup of comic possibilities. Anything that encourages comedy in any form will always get my vote.
Compare this to a set of text smillies and the poverty of texting is laid bare(like a dog`s bottom).
ps I got an answer on one of these Latin sites containing the word "legere" which defied the translation sites.It sounds like a 25/1 outsider in the 3.30 at Haydock.Any clues?
 
  • #30
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ps I got an answer on one of these Latin sites containing the word "legere" which defied the translation sites.It sounds like a 25/1 outsider in the 3.30 at Haydock.Any clues?
The Latin word legere translates as "to read". The whole phrase translates to "If you know (how) to read this, you have too much education." Those autotranslation sites do a terrible job with Latin. They're not too bad for English/French/German/Spanish. I can't speak for anything else (I forgot most of my Flemish). However, as bad as they are for Latin, I can't imagine why you couldn't get a decent translation for the word legere. By the way, could you translate "It sounds like a 25/1 outsider in the 3.30 at the Haydock."?

EDIT: What longshot odds are talking about; the Latin sites or some other sites that "translate" Latin to English? If it's the latter, I agree with you, but a Latin site should at least be able to translate the infinitive legere correctly.

Here's another view:

http://www.countingcats.com/?p=955
 
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  • #31
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I have a question for any Latin students out there. The well used expression quid pro quo is usually understood as a 'favor for a favor' but it literally translates to "what for where". I know literal translations from Latin can be misleading, but someone told me it's just part of an old Roman saying meaning "What for where you want me to be." or "...I am to be." meaning where in terms of support for some political or business objective.

My attempt to translate that would be Quid pro quo sum esse.. Is this correct?
 
  • #32
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The gain in learning Latin is almost nil. No one speaks it. No one writes it basically.

The most recent great works have been written in German, French, and English. Why not stick to those languages?
Latin is the basis for many languages (okay, you can go back further) including to some extent English, alot of the 'finer' words are from latin, and you can sometimes guess their meaning in English if you know the latin (not always of course: prerogative comes to mind as one of those). It's also quite similar to Italian.

Isn't Latin helpful in medicine and biology in general?
I agree!

I would recommend learning it. I started a couple of years ago, but haven't done any recently as I have been busy with my studies (at least that's my excuse). I also wouldn;t say it's easy as some have suggested, the basics are always easy, it's when you go a bit further.
 
  • #33
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I would recommend learning it. I started a couple of years ago, but haven't done any recently as I have been busy with my studies (at least that's my excuse). I also wouldn;t say it's easy as some have suggested, the basics are always easy, it's when you go a bit further.
I would recommend studying Latin if you enjoy the language for it's own beauty and elegance (a subjective notion to be sure). It can also help you understand grammar because so many grammatical relations are expressed in the infections of the language, whereas these relations are largely "hidden" in English which has lost most of its inflections. However, it's certainly not necessary for learning grammar.

If you are interested in history, understanding Latin will allow you to read many historical documents and texts in the original language which is always better than relying on translations.

Btw, my Latin is pretty weak, so perhaps you (nobahar) could check my translation in post 31. Thanks

EDIT: Also, it's not true that no one speaks Latin. The internet has allowed for a bit of a revival of the language with a number of websites devoted to it. It will never replace English as an international lingua franca but there are people in many countries who have made the effort to learn it.
 
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  • #34
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I would recommend studying Latin if you enjoy the language for it's own beauty and elegance (a subjective notion to be sure). It can also help you understand grammar because so many grammatical relations are expressed in the infections of the language, whereas these relations are largely "hidden" in English which has lost most of its inflections. However, it's certainly not necessary for learning grammar.

If you are interested in history, understanding Latin will allow you to read many historical documents and texts in the original language which is always better than relying on translations.

Btw, my Latin is pretty weak, so perhaps you (nobahar) could check my translation in post 31. Thanks

EDIT: Also, it's not true that no one speaks Latin. The internet has allowed for a bit of a revival of the language with a number of websites devoted to it. It will never replace English as an international lingua franca but there are people in many countries who have made the effort to learn it.
I was thinking it was more useful in terms of vocabulary; any number of the words that we don't use in everyday speech are from latin, the type of words that convey what would otherwise would require a whole sentence to explain.
I do not have my latin books with me, as I am not at home. But I took "Quid pro quo" to be "What for what". Quid is the nominative of what, pro is a preposition that translates roughly as "for" in some contexts (and as we use it in certain contexts) and takes the ablative (i.e. pro +ablative of word). Quo is the ablative of what, and so we get Quid pro quo: What for what.
I learnt classical pronunciation, if you're interested, this is a really good website:
http://www.rhapsodes.fll.vt.edu/
 
  • #35
I have a question for any Latin students out there. The well used expression quid pro quo is usually understood as a 'favor for a favor' but it literally translates to "what for where".
No, it doesn't. It literally translates to 'what for what'. Quo means (among other things) 'where' when used as an adverb, but in that sentence it's used as a pronoun governed by the preposition pro, which makes it a form of quid ('what', 'which').

I know literal translations from Latin can be misleading, but someone told me it's just part of an old Roman saying meaning "What for where you want me to be." or "...I am to be." meaning where in terms of support for some political or business objective.

My attempt to translate that would be Quid pro quo sum esse.. Is this correct?
No. One way (among many) of saying 'where you want me to be' would be ubi me esse uis.
 
  • #36
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Thanks very much to both of you. Like I said, my Latin is weak and I was misinformed regarding that"..old Roman saying." You really can't use English as model. Sum does translate to "I am" and "esse" does translate to "to be", but that doesn't mean that sum esse,translates to "I am to be"; at least not in this usage.

EDIT: I'm really glad to hear that there are some good Latin speakers in this forum. Thanks again for the fast responses and for the link nobahar.
 
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  • #37
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I'm actually going to embark learning Latin, and ancient Greek. I had originally enrolled for a course in ancient Greek but withdrew due to health reasons, but I've still got the textbook. I purchased Oxford Latin Course parts one and two so I could try out some Latin for myself.

I'd perfer to read Classical literature in translation. In High School I studied The Odyssey, Sophocles' Antigone and Oedipus Rex, and Virgil's The Aeneid.
 
  • #38
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I'd be very grateful for a translation of the following

Populo enimius est,ut imperium cui velit deferat.

It is inscribed onto the pavement in Edinburgh.
 
  • #39
I'd be very grateful for a translation of the following

Populo enimius est,ut imperium cui velit deferat.

It is inscribed onto the pavement in Edinburgh.
That'd be enim ius rather than enimius.

It is indeed the right of the people to deposit the power on whom they wish.
 
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  • #40
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Thank you indeed.

The quote is attributed to

George Buchanan

A well know Roman!
 
  • #41
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I came across this quote from Seneca:

Loco non tui si non ubi es.

It was translated as "A place is not yours if you're not there."

This seems a little strange. If you leave your home for a while, it's not yours? Is it correctly translated? Perhaps he was referring to Rome's claim to parts of its vast empire and the need to maintain a presence rather than rely on the loyalty of local rulers. This would be a great line for squatters to write on the walls someone's vacation home.
 
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  • #42
I came across this quote from Seneca:

Loco non tui si non ubi es.

It was translated as "A place is not yours if you're not there."

This seems a little strange. If you leave your home for a while, it's not yours? Is it correctly translated? Perhaps he was referring to Rome's claim to parts of its vast empire and the need to maintain a presence rather than rely on the loyalty of local rulers. This would be a great line for squatters to write on the walls someone's vacation home.
This looked odd, so I googled it; the only two references I can find are your own post
and this blog:

http://truth-beauty-goodness.blogspot.com/2009/08/latin-et-english-quotes-from-seneca.html

The 'Latin' quotes there are all wrong though. Looks like the author has taken a number
of quotes from Seneca in English and is presenting his own, faulty translation into
Latin as though those were Seneca's own words.

In short, the person who did that webpage simply doesn't know enough Latin.
 
  • #43
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Thanks. Is the Latin a correct or incorrect translation of an incorrect English translation as written?
 
  • #44
Thanks. Is the Latin a correct or incorrect translation of an incorrect English translation as written?
I'm not sure I understand your question. I don't think the English is a translation from
the Latin. What I meant is, that person took a sentence written in English (a Seneca
quote) and tried to translate it back into Latin, incorrectly.

I don't know the original Seneca quote.

EDIT:

The Latin as given isn't right because the subject ("a place") is written in the
wrong case ('loco' is either dative or ablative).
 
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  • #45
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(I'm not particularly interested in learning Latin for the sake of knowing the language.)
I think a lot of the respondents must have missed that line in your post. I would never argue with a person who wants to learn a language for personal fulfillment, but it would be a huge waste of time to learn Latin just to read a few classics.

Simply put, unless you are a linguistic genius, if you don't enjoy learning the language for its own sake, then there is almost no chance that you are going to learn it well enough to get anything more than you can get from a translation --- and the kind of classics that you are talking about have almost certainly been translated, by true experts in the language.
 

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