Help Translate from Latin

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by whitewolf, Mar 31, 2007.

  1. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

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    I recently obtained a book that is entirely in Latin. My Latin skills don't stretch beyond the fact that many words in English come from Latin, and that's not sufficient to understand what the book is about. Dictionaries are also of no big help because there's grammar and I don't know the grammatical structure of the language.

    Can someone take a look at two-three pages and help me out? I can supply the pages in email form.

    P.S. GREAT THANKS for the linguistics forum!
     
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  3. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I IM someone from here on a regular basis. She once studied some Latin on her own. I'm not sure if she would remember enough to be able to read a body of text, but I could pass the word on to her and have her come here.

    What's the title? Is it a translation of another book, or an original work?
     
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  5. Beryl WWAD What Would Athelwulf Do? Registered Senior Member

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    I am the person Athelwulf spoke of. I don't know if I would be able to help as my grasp on Latin is not great, but I'd be happy to give it a try. My email is poortheo@yahoo.com
     
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  7. orcot Valued Senior Member

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    what's the name of the book perhaps their is a online english version if that helps
     
  8. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

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    The title page reads: HORAE SVBCESIVAE DE NOBILITATE GENTILITIA IN TRES LIBROS DIVIS[....] AVCTORE DOM VINCENTIO TVRTVRETO SCIVLO, PHILIPPI IV. REGIS. NVNC PRIMVM PRODEVNT cum duplici Indice. Publishing date: M. DC. XXIV.

    Note that "v" was also used to represent "u" in titles but not in the rest of the text. I wish someone would tell me the reasons for such substitutions. Old English editions also used to substitute letters.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    In the original Latin alphabet, V was merely an alternate form of the letter U, easier to render with a chisel in stone. Similarly, J was an alternate form of I, for reasons not quite so clear. Eventually the convention was established of writing U and I when they were pronounced as vowels, but V and J when they were semivowels.

    V = English W in classical Latin, the evolution into a fricative consonant came later. Even today, the "standard" phonetics of Latin varies from country to country and in some, e.g. England, V is often read as W. In all the Romance languages, V is a fricative.

    J = English Y in classical Latin and even stayed that way into late Latin before it was supplanted by various dialects that congealed into Italian. The Romance languages went different ways with it. ZH in French and Portuguese, KH in Spanish, English J in Italian although they now write the sound as GI, e.g. Giovanni for Johannes/John. I can't think of what it became in Romanian.

    Once Latin was essentially a dead language used only by scholars (i.e. people who could read and write), many of them thought it was very cool and scholarly to adopt the earlier typographical conventions and use only V and I.

    IOHANNES for John, EQVVS for horse.
     
  10. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks, Fraggle.

    But why make the substitution in the titles of chapters and then use "u" throughout the rest of the text? To make the titles seem more monumental? My whole book is in Latin, I don't think it was considered quite a dead language by then.

    Also, when I looked at old English books I didn't note an absence of "j"; I saw an abundance of "f" and it seems "f" was used instead of "th" to save space.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2007
  11. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I would've expected "þ", "ð", or even "y" to be substituted for "th". That's interesting.

    What's also interesting is that there's an archaic letter that looks almost exactly like an "f": the lower-case "s" in non-final positions, "ſ". Until I read your mention of "th", I thought you were talking about that.

    The letter "ſ" is fun. I wish we still used it. Congreſs, ſinfulneſs, and ſucking pigs.
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Well yes, something like that. Remember that the community of literate people was tiny in those days. They were all elitists, having a really good time. Imagine that the entire publishing industry today were under the control of MENSA and you'll see my point.

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    Your copyright date is MDCXXIV = 1624. That's after Shakespeare! No one had spoken Latin as their primary, native language for almost a thousand years. Even in Italy, where recognizable Latin survived the longest as a vernacular spoken language, it was quite totally dead long before the turn of the millennium.
    I don't think you mean "Old English," or "Anglo-Saxon" as it's now called. That's the totally Germanic language of "Angle-Land" before the Norman Invasion in 1066, and it uses Athel's characters, which I can't reproduce with this browser. You're talking about early Modern English, which goes back to around the Fourteenth Century. In any case, the typographical conventions I described were only for printing Latin, not other languages.

    The Roman alphabet kept expanding as other people began using it. Even the Romans had to add Y (Greek ypsilon, pronounced ü) for all the Greek words they were borrowing. That was soon followed by K, Greek kappa, as Latin C became softened due to palatalization before I and E, and by Z, Greek zeta, a sound absent from Classic Latin. Somewhere along the way "double U" was created, in the days when U was spelled V, to distinguish between the semivowel and fricative pronunciations of V. German added ess-tzett, that funny thing that looks kind of like a capital B. The Norse added slashed O and the AE digraph. (Got to upgrade my dang browser.) And everybody created new letters by adding diacritical marks. Or subtracting them... Turkish has a lower-case I with the dot missing. Never chide a Turk for "remembering to dot all his I's."

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    What you're seeing as a lower-case F is actually the funny letter Athel presents, which again I can't reproduce. Look closely at something that's cleanly printed and you'll see that this letter doesn't have the crossbar of an F. It's an old-fashioned lower-case S, basically the same one the Germans use in their creepy-castle Fraktur font. As he explains, it was used for S except when it's the last letter in a word.
     

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