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  5. "The orator sends me a letter…

"The orator sends me a letter."

Translation:Orator ad me litteras mittit.

August 29, 2019



Shouldn't 'mihi' also be accepted as opposed to 'ad me'?


I would have thought so. French uses a remnant of the dative case 3rd person singular pronoun in 'lui envoyer une lettre" (send him/her a letter.) It would make sense if that came from Latin. However, it doesn't seem to. I can't find anything in my Latin dictionary under 'mitto' besides constructions with 'ad + pronoun/noun/name." Maybe someone else knows more?


You're right "lui" means "to him/to her". It's a dative. It's the reason why we use it with intransively, and it can't replace le/la as pronoun (direct complement pronouns).

The etymology: From vulgar latin llúi, from illi, dative singular of ille.


I don't know, but I googled it and it seems that both (ad + acc and dat) are possible. An extensive discussion is in https://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?t=7686


Same in German: "mir" (dat.)/"an mich" (acc.)

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It's accepted now 2/26/2020.


In responding to BryanWilli, it's generous of DL Latin to allow dative if one is attempting to imitate classical Latin. One would need to do a thorough search of TLL, but from what I can tell, mittere + ad in classical Latin is dominant, while + dative may be more common than known for colloquial speech. One finds compounds such as remittere + dative in Plautus. In Late Latin mittere + dative becomes common, and probably the usage in the Vulgate both hastened its use and contributed to the dative (indirect object pronoun such as Spanish le and French lui) in Romance languages. One finds in Acts 13:26 vobis ... missum est (ἡμῖν ... ἐξαπεστάλη); Ps 20(19):3 mittat tibi (both iuxta hebr. and LXX). At Ezra 5:17 mittat ad nos is as much indebted to the original Aramaic and LXX πεμψάτω πρὸς ἡμᾶς as to classical tendency. If anyone wanted to look more deeply in the secondary literature, one could start with Dickey and Chahoud, eds., Colloquial and Literary Latin; García de la Fuente, Introducción al latín bíblico y cristiano; Blaise, Manuel du latin chrétien; and Mohrmann, Études sur le latin des chrétiens.


Isn't ''litteras'' accusative plural? How does that translate into ''a letter''.


Romans thought of all the individual letters that go into writing what, in English, we call ‘a letter.’ They might ask us, “Why do you call it ‘a letter’ when you use so many letters to make it?” :) They also used the singular ‘epistula’.


The singular "litteram" would mean a single letter of the alphabet, rather than a missive.


The Romans also used the (Greek loan-word) epistula for "letter, missive," so that Orator epistulam ad me mittit, and Orator litteras ad me mittit, would be equivalent.


So what they're saying is that the English word "letter" to mean an epistle is a synecdoche? Cool.


Why not orator litteras ad me mittit also?



Is there a preference for word order: Dir. Obj. / Indir. Obj. or vice-versa or either, according to emphasis?


According to the classic on the subject - Bradley’s Arnold Latin Prose Composition - unless there is a need, in context, to emphasize a certain word (by placing it at the beginning or end of the sentence), the general Latin word order is/was: direct object + indirect object + verb. The example given there is:

Hunc librum filio dedi. “I gave this book to my son.”


Brilliant. Thank you.


Maybe I'm not understanding this... why couldn't the dative "mihi" work here?


It seems it is just not how Romans talked about sending letters. They used the construction ‘litteras/epistulam ad [name/pronoun in accusative] mittere’.


Probably because of the idea of move?


Well, if you look in the Oxford Latin Dictionary under mitto, mittere, you'll find, in definition #17 ("to have (things) conveyed, send, dispatch"), some examples ("letters and other documents; also greetings") used with the dative. There are some clear examples cited, from Plautus and Ovid, for example.


Can we use "mihi" in place of "ad me" It has been used in other expressions.


Yes, there do seem to be examples of the verb mittere used with datives (like mihi) instead of ad + accus., which is far more common.


Is "Orator epistulam me mittit" correct?


No, it looks as though you have two direct objects: accus. me and accus. epistulam.

It only works to say: Orator epistulam ad me mittit (using prepositional phrase ad me, "to me"); or Orator mihi epistulam mittit (using the dative mihi, "to/for me") in the sense, "The orator is sending a letter for me."

The first (epistulam ad me) seems most common.

In the Oxford Latin Dictionary, I do find an example from Plautus with mittere + accus. + dative (et tibi ego misi mulierem, "And I in fact sent the woman to you"). Check OLD under 15 b for mitto.


Thank you for teaching me to say "You're welcome"!


(I hope it's correct!!)


why is "epistulam mittit" wrong?


"Epistulam mittit" for "sends a letter" is fine.


Wait.. wouldn't it be litteram because it's not plural?

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In Latin, the singular "littera" is literally as in "letter of the alphabet". When it's used as a synonym for "epistula" or when it means "literature", it's in the plural because presumably you're composing it of more than one letter.


I entered "Orator epistulam mihi mittit" and it was accepted. No complaints here. Just wondering whether my construction is any better or worse than the given answer of "Orator ad me litteras mittit".

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