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When using Google Translate or eprevodilac from Latin to English, both tools translate the following phrases as shown:

  • Veni, vidi, vici → I came, I saw, I conquered (Google Translate)
  • Veni, vidi, vici → I came, I saw, I won (eprevodilac)

The other way around gives the following (notice that both translations omit the commas):

  • I came, I saw, I conquered → Veni vidi vici (Google Translate)
  • I came, I saw, I conquered → Veni vidi vici (eprevodilac)

For the sentence I want to translate, results are as follows:

  • Veni, bidi, oblidi → I came, I drank, I forgot (Google Translate)
  • Veni, bidi, oblidi → I came, I drank, I forgot (eprevodilac)

The other way around:

  • I came, I drank, I forgot → Veni, bibi, oblitus sum (Google Translate)
  • I came, I drank, I forgot → Veni, bibi, oblitus sum (eprevodilac)

My questions:

  • Why does the translation "seem to work" from one language to the other (i.e., Latin → English), but not the reverse?
  • If the translation for "I forgot" is "oblitus sum" (which seems to be the passive indicative perfect tense), why isn't the "I conquered" translation "victus sum"?
  • Is the translation of "I came, I drank, I forgot" to "Veni, bidi, oblidi" remotely correct, or not at all?
  • Bonus questions: why are the active indicative and subjunctive so rich for "víncere", but almost nonexistent for "oblīvīscēns/oblīvīscéntis"? Can't "to forget" be active in Latin?

I hope my questions are not too stupid...

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    A machine translation question where the robot actually produces correct Latin! That almost never happens.
    – Cairnarvon
    Jul 30, 2022 at 14:21
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    Edi, dormivi, saltavi, iteravi.
    – CJ Dennis
    Jul 31, 2022 at 0:12
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    The lack of commas in the translation may not be a surprise. We should be glad that there are spaces as word boundaries. Jul 31, 2022 at 15:12

1 Answer 1

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Bonus questions: why are the active indicative and subjunctive so rich for "víncere", but almost nonexistent for "oblīvīscēns/oblīvīscéntis"? Can't "to forget" be active in Latin?

All natural languages, Latin included, have some irregularities. You just discovered one here, except it's backwards. It's not that the active is missing with obliviscor, rather, it lacks active forms.

Obliviscor falls into the category of verbs known as deponent verbs. These verbs look passive, but they are in fact active in meaning. There are a whole slew of these verbs, including loquor, sequor, and gradior. These verbs are usually indicated as such in the dictionary with with "dep." somewhere or otherwise just giving the principal parts without active forms, such as obliviscor, oblitus.

There are also semi-deponent verbs, which lack active forms in the perfect tenses, but otherwise have active forms in the present tense. Their principal parts will reflect that, too, so gaudeo, gaudere, gavisus.

Why does the translation "seem to work" from one language to the other (i.e., Latin → English), but not the reverse?

Google Translate is not a good tool for Latin. I strongly recommend against using those tools to discover a language's grammar. It can't even get vocabulary correct, and grammar, as you've seen, breaks down when going outside what it "learned."

If the translation for "I forgot" is "oblitus sum" (which seems to be the passive indicative perfect tense), why isn't the "I conquered" translation "victus sum"?

So, because obliviscor is deponent, it's active in meaning but passive in form. Meanwhile, vinco, vincere is not deponent. Its passive forms are also passive in meaning. Victus sum means "I was conquered."

Is the translation of "I came, I drank, I forgot" to "Veni, bidi, oblidi" remotely correct, or not at all?

No. There is no such word oblidi in Latin. [Edit: Oops, this is a Latin word, as cnread points out in the comment. But it is rare and unrelated to obliviscor, and instead comes from oblido, -ere 'to crush'.]

It does sound like obliti, but by itself that would indicate the perfect participle in the masculine plural or genitive singular.

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    (Actually, there is a word oblidi; but it's the present passive infinitive of oblidere and therefore means 'to be squeezed' or 'to be crushed.')
    – cnread
    Jul 30, 2022 at 19:32
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    @cnread Thanks! If I ever had come across that word, I had since forgotten it.
    – cmw
    Jul 30, 2022 at 19:38
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    It's not just Latin. If you make a mistake in verb forms in Google translate in the original language, it will translate it without any reference to the mistake. I have taken, I has taken, I have took, I has took, I took, I taken all translate to j'ai pris in French.
    – Peter Shor
    Jul 30, 2022 at 23:24
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    Thank you very much for the answers and all the comments. So can we say that "Veni, bibi, oblitus sum" is the correct translation for "I came, I drank, I forgot"?
    – pdeli
    Jul 31, 2022 at 11:50
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    @pdeli Yeah, oblitus sum is the correct translation, although if the speaker is a woman, it would be oblita sum.
    – McKinley
    Jul 31, 2022 at 12:32

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