Latin IS English!

January 17, 2009

“Significant within a Latin sentence is word order.”

“Significant within a Latin sentence is word order.” That’s right. Just look at the title of this post. What are the most significant words in that sentence? If you said “Significant” and “order,” you are correct. Simply from their positioning, the words on at the extremities (beginning and end) hold a greater degree of prominence. Once you’ve studied Latin long enough to be able to translate your first sentence, you’ll immediately notice (as we’ve discussed previously further down within this blog) that the word order of a typical “basic” Latin sentence follows the pattern of (1) Subject at the beginning, (2) Verb at the end, and (3) Direct Object behind (near) the subject within the sentence. And, while many if not most sentences will have more than three words representing these three basic parts of speech—in the example below an “indirect object” has been included— this is the basic word order pattern.

When Latin sentences are more complex in parts of speech used or kinds of phrases occurring, there are still—as in English—normal word order placement patterns that may be observed.  An “indirect object,” for example, would normally occur after a subject and just before the direct object:

Deus Christianīs salutem dat.

(Subj./Indir. Obj./Dir. Obj./Verb)

God to Christians salvation gives.

You will also remember that “Genitive” case possessive-descriptive words normally follow the words they modify:

Christus Filius Deī est = (literally) “Christ the Son of God (he) is.” —or— “Christ is the Son of God.
Christus Deī Filius est = (literally) “Christ the of God Son (he) is.” —or— “Christ is the Son of God. (positionally stronger)

But, what about sentences where the words appear in an atypical order from those examples presented above? What implications, if any, does a different word placement order have on the translation of a Latin sentence? Well, the answer is—quite a lot. As is true in English as well. Already the Latin subject and verb placement at the beginning and end of the sentence gives them, as—stand out” words—special significance. So, when re-ordering occurs, we should pay attention to the significance. For example, here is a paraphrase of Mary’s great doxological prayer, commonly know as “The Magnificat,” from Luke 1:46-49:

Magnificat anima mea Dominum . . . quia fecit mihi magna . . . et sanctum nomen ejus (est).

My soul magnifies the Lord . . . because he has done great things for me . . . and holy (is) his name.

The simple movement of the Latin verb (Magnificat) from its normal ending position in the sentence (phrase) to the beginning draws extra attention to it, giving it a heightened importance or stress in this famous and widely utilized prayer of Mary after she learns that she will be the earthly mother of Jesus. Also, with the relocation of the verb to the beginning of the sentence, the “direct object” (Dominum) now holds a greater prominence as the last word within its clause. As a result, the main thrust of this part of the passage—for Mary and for us—is magnifying the Lord! Paying attention to word order, therefore, will help the Latin student draw out these special nuances in emphasis that are reflected within a given Latin sentence.

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February 19, 2008

The “Nicene Creed” in Latin & English

The Symbolum Nicaenum, or Nicene Creed, has a complex history.  It was first promulgated at the Council of Nicea (325), though in an abbreviated form from what we have below.  St. Athanasius attributes its composition to the Papal Legate to the Council, Hossius of Cordova.  The Creed is also sometimes called the Nicene-Constantinoplan Creed since it appears inthe Acts of the Council of Constantinople (381), but it is clear that this Council is not the source of that composition for it appears in complete form in the Ancoratus of Epiphanius of Salamis some seven years earlier in 374.  In any case, it was this text that appears in the Acts of the Council of Constantinople that was formally promulgated at Chalcedon in 451 and has come down to us as our present Nicene Creed.  It was at the councils of Nicea and Constantinople that the true nature of Jesus was defended against two heresies that had sprung up. The Arians denied Christ’s divinity and the Monophysites denied Christ’s humanity. The councils, drawing upon the traditions handed down to them from the Apostles, condemned both heresies and declared that Jesus was indeed both true God and true man.  

 CREDO in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.   

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.  

Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei **unigenitum,  ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri; per quem omnia facta sunt.   
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father; through Whom all things were  made.  

Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.   

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven.  And he was made flesh by the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. 

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris.  

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; suffered, and was buried. On the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.  

Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius regni non erit finis.  

And He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.  

Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.  

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.  

Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas.  
 
Who, with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified: Who has spoken through the Prophets.  

Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.   
And (I believe in) one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  

Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.  

I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. Amen. 
**Not only is Christ God’s “only begotten” son (via His incarnation by a “virgin” woman through the agency of the Holy Spirit), He is more significantly, as one of the three “persons” of the trinitarian Godhead, the “unique” Son of God. For more on the “uniqueness” (uniqenitum) of Christ as the “God-Man,” see: Jesus Christ: God’s “Unique” Son (John 3:16; cf. 1 John 4:9 Greek & Latin).

	

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