literra means "letter" as in like letter of the alphabet. so in plural it can mean "letter" like a letter you would send to someone. In that case I think the word "epistula, epistulae - letter" (like the latter definition) would be less ambiguous, but the plural use of "littera" still is used in Latin . Notice that "litteras" can also mean literature in general
We have many 'letters' from antiquity which were clearly meant to be published and read as essays. They are only letters in the sense they are addressed to somebody. Some of the letters we have are unlikely to have even been sent. Cicero, arguably the greatest orator in history wrote many such 'letters'.
To send literature to someone makes sense?
I though literature was like one of the arts, a general category. The fact it is always in the plural form makes me thing that you cannot send a literature or some literature, meaning an artwork of literature.
Maybe I think too much in my native language, but in French, the meaning of littera is the same.
Lettre could mean an alphabet letter, and a mail.
Lettres, plural, could mean alphabet letters, or mails AND could also mean literature.
(J'étudie les lettres, j'ai un professeur de lettres = littérature.)
When you say "les lettres" meaning literature, it's impossible to send it to someone, as it would be like sending "maths" or "science" to someone, it's general field of study and of human knowledge.
Not like sending a novel to someone.
I really don't know if it's the same in Latin, but it would seems logical to me.
To clarify, I wouldn't translate it as literature in this context, merely passing comment that there wasn't always a distinction between letters and literature in ancient Rome, especially when orators were involved.
That being said I consulted William Whitaker's Words, which suggest litteras can mean literature in the abstract sense as you suggest, or in the physical sense of books. Depending on the context we could take the sentence as "The orator sends works of literature to me". Perhaps the speaker is the student of the orator, and the orator had a slave bring some books over he wants him to study. Here is a link to the William Whitaker's Words page: http://archives.nd.edu/cgi-bin/wordz.pl?keyword=litteras
I don't see the "works of literature". (Do you mean "books"?)
Yes, books, you can send them, but it's not really the same meaning than "work of literature". I checked in 5 or 6 online dictionaries (including ones with examples sentence to show the use of a word), and I can find something else than "literature" in the conceptual meaning, no "works of literature" unless they are "books" or "writings".
The tiles did not have a 'to' but did have a 'for', and as the dative case can be translated as 'to' or 'for', I translated the sentence as The orator sends a letter for me. Whilst this is not as usual a translation as The orator send me a letter or The orator sends a letter to me, I think it should also be accepted as grammatically correct.
Or does the use of 'ad' mean only 'to', whether explicit or implicit, is correct?
The use of the preposition "ad" is very explicit as direction towards. It takes an accusative object and so there is no real indirect object in this sentence. If it was "mihi" instead of "ad me", you could make the argument for the translation "for me", but from context, a regular indirect object would still make more sense here.
"Me" is not grammatically the indirect object, as it's introduced by a preposition?
Sorry for the people who don't speak French, but it's more visible in French than in English.
J'envoie une lettre à ma mère.
Indirect complément: à ma mère
Je lui envoie une lettre.
lui, replacing "à ma mère" (and not ma mère only, because without the preposition "à", it would be "la")
Je la vois, no preposition, la = direct complement.
What would be the meaning of "sends a letter for me"? On my behalf?
It would probably be said in another way.
I think the "for" meaning for someone, on the behalf of someone, would be translated by "pro"?
I think "pro" takes the ablative: so I would say: "pro me" (=for me, in my name)?
So, you guys claim that "litterae" can also sometimes mean a letter, the same as "epistula"? As I recall, I got sentences with "litterae" refused because I didn't use "epistula" instead. Shouldn't the exercises with "epistula" then be fixed, to make sure "litterae" is also a valid answer?
Yes, someone explained that. But if you want to translate that into English, and we all know we are talking about letters as in XYZ, then the translation should be "The orator sends me letters," not "...a letter" as shown in the principal translation. It seems to me if they want the kind of letter which is a note with a message sealed with the address on the outside, then they should say "epistula." That word has been introduced.
I think the idea is that "litteras" as "XYZ" is stylistic or euphemistic for "correspondence." It doesn't mean literal "letters" or "ABCs," like cut-outs of individual letters from that morning's newspaper. :-)
To give the scope of the word, Lewis and Short (1891 edition, p. 1071-1072) gives as the first definition for "littera": "a letter, a written sign or mark signifying a sound." By transference, this can also mean "a word, a line," (as how in English we might say "Drop me a line if you get a chance").
But in the plural, "litterae" can mean "a letter, epistle" or "a writing, document, paper" or "written monuments, records, literature," or even "learning, the sciences, liberal education, scholarship, letters."
Given the wide range of meanings, and given that the translation exercises in Duolingo are offered without context, "a letter" sounds as reasonable a translation as any.
You mean "accepted", not "excepted".
No, that probably should not have been accepted. It's arguably grammatically correct, but literally no native English speaker anywhere in the world would say it that way. It would either be "The orator sends me a letter" (no "to" if the indirect object immediately follows the verb) or "The orator sends a letter to me" (if the indirect object follows the direct object).
See my comment below. In addition, strictly speaking, in English, "The orator sends me a letter" has the clause form "subject/finite verb/indirect object/direct object." To mirror that precisely in Latin, one would say "Orator mihi epistulam mittit." In the alternate way of saying it ("Orator ad me epistulam mittit"/"The orator sends a letter to me"), there is no indirect object, but instead there is a direct object (epistulam) and a prepositional phrase ("ad me") consisting of a preposition and the preposition's object.