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Was looking to do an inscription on a ring for my fiance (engagement ring)

Mei Uxor animusque

My (plural m) wife (f) and soul(m)

The -que implies that these things are close together by making them textually closer together, and the plural masculine my covers the mixed gendered list of words. Just wanted to make sure this made sense and was correct?

EDIT: Appreciate the detailed feedback. Think I'm going with

Uxor Animaque Mea

2 Answers 2

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Usually an adjective (and here meus works like an adjective) takes the form of the closest referent when used attributively. The masculine plural would be used in a sentence like "the wife and soul are mine".

I find it better to put the adjective at the end, which would give you uxor animusque meus. If you don't want to use anima instead of animus (they mean different things), there will be both a masculine and a feminine, and I find it a little awkward to refer to a wife with a masculine word even if grammatical.

Swapping the word order is one way around this, giving animus uxorque mea. I prefer this also because of more balanced word lengths.

Another option is to use mihi, "to me". If I may take some liberties, I suggest [tu/es] animus uxorque mihi, "[you are] the soul and wife to me". Whether you want to include tu or es or both is a matter of taste. On a quick thought, I would go with es animus uxorque mihi.

Before making a choice here, I suggest waiting a day or two to see if others have other suggestions or if their comments or votes suggests that mine is not to be trusted.

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  • I don't believe the nominative and dative can be used together as indicated in your final suggestion, except with nouns that normally take a dative of reference: erus, imperator, etc. You can't use a dative of possession (dative has nominative) as if it were a genitive of possession (noun belongs to genitive). May 1, 2019 at 19:04
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    @Kingshorsey I didn't intend it as a dative of possession, but as dativus commodi. I deliberately wrote "you are a wife to me" rather than "you are my wife". Sumelic's way of putting it is also good.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 1, 2019 at 19:47
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Dativus commodi requires an action verb (or a verbal noun). The action has to be completely intelligible apart from the dative, the dative merely indicating for whose sake the action was performed. With a being verb, the closest you get is the ethical/viewpoint dative: mihi es uxor means "In my opinion, you are a wife." May 2, 2019 at 14:06
  • :@Kingshorsey: The thread here suggests that est and a dative can be used to indicate possession, but that the meaning of this construction would be more like "I have a soul and wife": "Dat. of Possession and those Times When a Dat. Translates to a Possessive in English", by Pacifica, in 'Grammar Tips And Examples'
    – Asteroides
    May 2, 2019 at 21:54
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The use of the masculine plural "Mei" in "Mei Uxor animusque" would not follow the preferred pattern of adjective agreement in Latin. When an attributive adjective semantically modifies multiple coordinated nouns, the adjective agrees as a rule with the gender and number of the closest noun, not with the number and gender of the total combination (the latter strategy is called "resolution"). See Brianpck' answer to a related question and the dissertation "Deconstructing and Reconstructing Semantic Agreement: A Case Study of Multiple Antecedent Agreement in Indo-European", by Cynthia A. Johnson, 2014: "Attributive targets always show Nearest Antecedent Agreement" (p. 65). Pinkster 2015:1273 gives a few examples of exceptions,* but says "It is much more common for the modifier to agree with only one of the members of the compound noun phrase, almost always with the nearest one".

Alternatives consistent with this rule would be "Mea uxor animusque", "Uxor animusque meus" or "Uxor mea animusque".

Hoere is an informative forum post: https://latindiscussion.org/threads/agreement-of-an-attribute-with-more-than-one-noun.32219/

The user Bitmap (Apr 16, 2019), citing Ausführliche Grammatik der lateinischen Sprache by Kühner & Stegmann (1914), presents the main options as follows:

An attribute (adjective, participle, pronoun) that refers to more than one noun usually agrees with the nearest noun, but refers to the other nouns as well; it does not matter whether they have the same genus and numerus or not. You find the following possibilities:

a) The attribute precedes all nouns. E.g. Caes. B. G. 5, 11, 5 res multae operae et laboris. 6, 42, 2 ab ipso vallo portisque castrorum. Cic. Tusc 1, 7 Aristoteles, vir summo ingenio, scientia, copia.

b) The attribute comes after all nouns. E.g. Cic. de or. 2, 242 ingenuitatem et ruborem suum. Rpb. 1, 51 divitiae, nomen, opes vacuae consilio.

c) The attribute comes after the first noun. E.g. Cic. de or. 3, 82 vitam tuam ac studia. 97 et ingenia vestra (...) et aetates. 98 fastidio quodam et satietate. Caes. B. G. 3, 5, 2 vir et consilii magni et virtutis.

An attributive adjective coming between two nouns and agreeing with the second seems to be rare or unused in prose, but occurs in poetry:

In poetry, this way of positioning attributes can be found often and usually presents a figura ἀπὸ κοινοῦ (apo koinou), i.e. the attribute refers to both nouns.
E.g. Ov. her. 5, 39 consului (...) anusque longaevosque senes.
Verg. A. 2, 422 primi clipeos mentitaque tela agnoscunt.
Hor. C. 1, 5, 6 heu quoties fidem mutatosque deos flebit.

It is also grammatical to repeat the adjectives. The post also mentions that

In some cases the attribute may refer to the more distant, but more important noun. E.g. Cic. Fin. 5, 18 prima quasi virtutum igniculi et semina.

A discussion on agreement of predicative adjectives can be found here: https://latindiscussion.org/threads/agreement.4137/


*Pinkster cites the following rare examples of attributive adjectives showing resolution:

  • (a) Eo domum, patrem atque matrem ut meos salutem.
    (‘I shall go home and pay my respects to my father and mother.’ Pl. Mer. 659)
  • (b) Haec ea aestate . . . ab consule et legato Romanis ... gesta.
    (‘These things were accomplished this summer by the Roman consul and lieutenant.’ Liv. 31.47.3)
  • (c) Prolataque Divorum Iuli et Augusti diplomata ut vetera et obsoleta deflabat.
    (‘And when discharge certificates of the deified Julius and Augustus were presented to him, he waved them aside as old and out of date.’ Suet. Cal. 38.1)

(Harm Pinkster, The Oxford Latin Syntax, vol. 1: The Simple Clause, Oxford University Press, §13.21, page 1273)

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