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Regarding Ita And Minime

I don't mean to sound like a know-it-all, but the course's use of ita and minime stands out to me as glaringly wrong. I took two full years of Classical Latin as an undergraduate and I'm just using the course to practice fluency.

When I took Latin in college, I was taught that Latin had no word for "yes". If you want to answer yes to a question, you restate the question as a statement. So if I were asked "Habitasne in America?" I would answer "In America habitas." The second thing I was taught was that the words for "no" are "non" and "ne". "Minime" is an adverb meaning "not in the least", so I can see how that could be taken as "no" but I was never taught that. "Ita" certainly does not mean "yes", it is a word meaning "thus" or "so".

Does anyone know what the deal is with this? Maybe this is how it was in Vulgar Latin?

August 31, 2019



I believe "Ita" is just short for "Ita est", or "it is so".


Ita was indeed used as a affirmative response and minime as a negative. You may find examples in: Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary.


The usual adage that Latin (along with many other languages) has no universal word for "yes" doesn't mean that Latin has no way to express agreement, consent, confirmation or any other of the manifold uses of "yes" with one word. As BJSnipsNSnap correctly notes, ita is short for ita est "it is so". Conversely, minimē is short for minimē ita est "it is absolutely not so", or for minimē [what you just said]. There are tons of other single or more-word expressions that can be translated with a "yes" or a "no".

As a side-note, learning actual Latin often involves unlearning what you've learned in college, that normally being how to use a dictionary and a set of grammar rules to convert Latin words into English words and sometimes vice-versa - unless you were taught with LLPSI :-P


As I recall, my Latin teacher (over 50 years ago) wanted us to use "Ita est" for 'yes'.

His Latin was something of a blend between Classical Latin and Liturgical Latin, which was not surprising since had spent several years studying for the priesthood. It did make things interesting when his Latin differed from what the textbook was recommending. We used Classical pronunciation, with a "W" sound for 'V'.


Well, first of all, I wouldn't expect that you would tell the asker that they live in America when they're asking you where you live. I could be wrong, but that doesn't make much sense.

Secondly, I've seen both Ita and Sic used for affirmatives. In fact, the latter is the origin of the Italian affirmative sì.

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


So that is where Spanish sí and Portuguese sim some from! The more you know... Gratias, lingua Latina!


There is a parallel here in Welsh, which does not have a single word for yes or no. It does 'ie' for limited affirmations and 'na' which negates a verb in a response.

What you do is to use single verb words as a response. I wonder if the same would be natural in Latin?

"Habitāsne Londīniī?" "Habitō."


"Londīniī es?" "Sum."

"Londīniī erās?" "Nōn erō."

This is just a suggestion. I've no evidence either way.


I honestly thought it was more common to use “minime” as simply “no”. I remember that my sister’s Minimus books taught that. My Latin teacher later on also said something about Latin having a word for both yes and no, but wanted us to use full sentences to answer questions, partially to practice grammar and partially because “that’s what the Romans did” (not so sure about that claim).


I was taught the same thing (there are no Latin words for "yes" and "no"), so this thread has been an interesting read for me.


The main point is that latin has been used in its dead phase so long. In terms of learning/teaching it's difficult to distinguish classical and mediaval latin at least. If someone asked me I would say immediately sic et non, which are indeed medieval terms. I was surprized with ita and minime as well. Nevertheless latin is still the dead language, I suppose nobody would speak in latin again. Mostly we want to read classical authors, although Duo is anything but this kind of education. IMHO it is quite challenging to practise unrealizable conversation:)

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