"Surely the city of New York is not in California?"
Translation:Num urbs Novum Eboracum in California est?
I, for one, am glad that we are not spending lots of time, right now, learning the Roman names of lots of places, as would rather be learning the language, but if it offends you so much to have a handful of United States names in a free language course made by unpaid volunteers, please either stop studying or find some scholars from the rest of the world to contribute to later courses. I would also like to thank all who are making this course for you work. I am enjoying it much more than the Latin classes I had years ago.
You are no doubt aware that America had not been discovered at the time Latin was spoken. Any reference to California, New York, et hoc genus omne, must essentially be artificial and in my view detracts from the authenticity of this learning experience. How would you describe an aeroplane or an airport to an ancient Roman? The best you could do would be to describe a large bird that carries people , but this would not have been credited at the time. Surely the aim in any study of the Latin language is to learn how they communicated, and not invent concepts and words which they would not have understood. When I was at grammar school in England I was fortunate enough to have a Latin master who had a double first at Oxford, and contributed enormously to my love of learning. At university one of my Latin professors had served at Bletchley Park in WWII. They loved their subject and were true scholars, Introducing random artificial words such as American place names which cannot have existed when Latin was spoken can only be viewed as detracting from a fascinating yet serious subject.
"You are no doubt aware that America had not been discovered at the time Latin was spoken." This is incorrect. Latin was used and spoken for centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. It's a language like any other, and it evolves with time. Using modern place names in Latin is not "artificial".
By your logic, we shouldn't be allowed to conduct Mass in Latin because Ancient Romans wouldn't have understood the concept of "Spiritus Sanctus".
America had been discovered, just not by europeans. Not trying to be pedantic, as it's an important wording distinction.
That said, I disagree, I think Latin would be able to find names from within their own syntactic understanding for modern place names, as would any language--from any time in history. There is no teleology to language. The Latin language in 500bc when rome dethroned the kings was no more or less sophisticated than the latin language when rome's empire fell.
There's not some perfect platonic Latin that will be corrupted by modern place names. Modern place names use fundamentally the same linguistic building blocks that existed in roman times [because they have existed since we became human beings] and in an even more closely related sense, extremely similar languages to english existed then, via galli, early britons like iceni and dumnonii, in jutland and germania, etc. Romans managed to adapt Latin to those names then--and for 700+ years--with little trouble.
"You are no doubt aware that America had not been discovered at the time Latin was spoken. Any reference to California, New York, et hoc genus omne, must essentially be artificial and in my view detracts from the authenticity of this learning experience. "
New York may not have been known by the Romans but York in England certainly was, and it was of course called Eboracum. It is therefore hardly "inventing a new concept" to add Novum to it to make New York.
As for California it is a Spanish name and since Spanish has its roots in Latin and the word structure is identical to a first delcension noun, it is not a stretch to decline California as if it is a 1st declension noun.
As for other place names which may not have such an easy transliteration then one would presume you would do what the Romans (and conquerors all over the world did):
- Take the native place name and corrupt it into a version that does fit into their language structure or make up a new place name for it
eg. Saskatchewan in English which comes from ᑭᓯᐢᑳᒋᐘᓂ ᓰᐱᐩ kisiskāciwani-sīpiy ("swift flowing river") in the Cree language. (Reference: wikipedia)
Common Brittonic Eburākon, which means "yew tree place" from Proto-Celtic (cf. Old Irish ibar "yew-tree", Irish: iúr (older iobhar), Scottish Gaelic: iubhar, Welsh: efwr "alder buckthorn", Breton: evor "alder buckthorn"), combined with the proprietive suffix *-āko(n) "having".
The name was then Latinised by replacing the Celtic neuter nominative ending -on by its Latin equivalent -um, a common use noted also in Gaul and Lusitania (Reference: wikipedia)
So the placename in England now known as York was in proto-Celtic known as "Place of the Yew Trees" Ibarachain which then changed over time to the breton Eburakon into Early Latin as Eburacum and then later in Latin to Eboracum which eventually became York in English.
Ibarachain => Eburakon => Eburacum => Eboracum => York
- Ignore the existing native place name completely and give it a new name such as New York or Washington, for example.
In Roman times for example they named Ireland "Hibernia" (land of winter) rather than Latinising its native name Eire.
As for your next point: "How would you describe an aeroplane or an airport to an ancient Roman?"
Since Aeroplane's etymology comes from the Greek word Aero and the Latin word planus (which through French came to mean "to soar") I think that even if Romans had never seen a plane before they would probably get the general gist from the name itself.
You could say that for many names of modern things... car comes from the Latin carra meaning chariot. Telephone from the Ancient Greek "tele" meaning "over a great distance" and "phono" voice\sound, so it would not be difficult to extrapolate new words in a similar way.
A huge percentage of English words originate either directly or indirectly from Latin or Greek and many new words as they were discovered and needed such as intravenus can be described using original Latin words much like multitudes of existing English words are.
"The best you could do would be to describe a large bird that carries people , but this would not have been credited at the time."
Languages are living things that are constantly growing and adapted by those who use them, otherwise by your logic all anyone would be able to say is "urgh" because any time anyone came across something "artificial" or new they would think "oh there isn't a word for that thing so I'd better not make one up."
"Surely the aim in any study of the Latin language is to learn how they communicated, and not invent concepts and words which they would not have understood."
Surely YOU must realise that Latin itself changed over time from Early Latin to Classical Latin to Medieval Latin to Ecclesiastical Latin etc. In other words Latin itself grew and was adapted by those who spoke it and used it (including the Romans but also scholars from all over the world). So why should it be any different now?
Furthermore even the Romans themselves used "borrowed" words from many other languages. I'm only new to Latin but from what I can remember the entire 5th declension of nouns in Latin are words of Greek origin imported into Latin? Certainly there are a lot of Greek words and even Greek gods, and cultural elements that were imported into Latin and Latin culture much like in English we have words such as restaurant, kebab, shampoo, jodhpurs all borrowed from other languages because there wasn't an equivalent for them already existing.
"When I was at grammar school in England I was fortunate enough to have a Latin master who had a double first at Oxford, and contributed enormously to my love of learning. At university one of my Latin professors had served at Bletchley Park in WWII. They loved their subject and were true scholars, "
You are so lucky to have had such a wonderful education.
"Introducing random artificial words such as American place names which cannot have existed when Latin was spoken can only be viewed as detracting from a fascinating yet serious subject."
Is this your opinion or did your professors at Oxford express this opinion?
I would be surprised if it were the latter, because the Romans themselves introduced new words all of the time, and borrowed words from other languages so if your professors wanted to teach you Latin as the Romans would have learnt it then being introduced to new place names, and cultures was part of (in fact one of the main purpose of) learning both then and now.
Rarely, and mostly poet., with the name of the city in gen.: “urbs Patavi, Buthroti,” Verg. A. 1, 247; 3, 293: “Cassius in oppido Antiochiae cum omni exercitu,” Cic. Att. 5, 18, 1.—With adj. prop.: urbs Romana = Roma, Liv. 9, 41, 16; 22, 37, 12; 40, 36, 14; Flor. 1, 13, 21.—Of other cities (rare and post-class.): “Lampsacenae urbis salus,” Val. Max. 7, 3, ext. 4: in urbe Aquilejensi, Paul. v. S. Ambros. 32: “urbs urbium,” a metropolis, Flor. 2, 6, 35.
So in Classical Latin, urbs is properly Rome and no other city, which are oppidum, -i. Rarely, and post-Classically, urbs is used for other cities with an adjective (urbs Aquileiensis, urbs Lampsacena), or more rarely with genitive (urbs Patavi, oppidum Antiochiae, etc.)
I was not able to decode the dense information in the dictionary to find examples of urbs + nominative, but maybe it is there and I couldn't see it. However, clearly the genitive is warranted and Classical (if possibly poetic).
Novum Eboracum is the nominative.
Novi Eboraci is the locative.
There is no "Novi Eboracus", you can't mix and match like that. There needs to be agreement.
Yes, it is Novum Eboracum because it is the subject.
No, the locative by definition can never be the direct object. The direct object is the accusative.
In English, when we say where something is, that would be the locative in Latin. Except the locative is reserved for the names of cities/towns, small islands, and a very small handful of common nouns such as "domus" and "rus". Typically it would be in + ablative.
I am in New York City.
Novi Eboraci sum.
I am in New York State.
In Novo Eboraco sum.
For more details, please see my comment below.
Though interestingly, those American names have Latin roots. America itself is a Latin word directly slurped into English. (Yes it was coined relatively recently but it was coined in Latin, not Spanish or English) New York is actually named after some obscure British hamlet called York, which is simply the modern pronunciation of its old Latin name from Roman Britain which was Eboracum.
Yes OK but the 'rules' are not consistent. New York is a state and has been assigned a locative. I am aware it is also a city but there are sentences where 'New York City' are mentioned separately, as well as examples where NY is talked about as a state in the locative.
That might be an issue in the answer databases, but the city of New York takes the locative and the state of New York does not. This does not reflect on how Latin does or does not work, this is a matter of what the volunteer course contributors have in the various answer databases.
Do you mean in Latin? The locative case (which takes no preposition) is very rarely used. It's only for the names of cities/towns, small islands, and a very small handful of common nouns like "domus" and "rus". Everything else needs a preposition plus the ablative case.
Please refer to the other comments on this page for more details.
Locative vs nominative.
Here is a plain-English overview of what the cases are and how they work:
Latin cases, in English
Adjectives must agree in gender, number, and case with the nouns they modify, but they have their own declensions. Sometimes you get lucky and the adjective just happens to follow the same declension as the noun, but that is not a guarantee.
"Eboracum" is 2nd declension neuter.