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What would people take "prō amōre signī" to mean in English? Also, is the use of ablative case for "amōre" correct) required following the preposition "prō", and how would different choices of case for "signī" influence the meaning?

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    Nothing, because signī is not a Latin word 😉 More seriously, the question is too general. Depending on context, the phrase could mean all kinds of things. And changing the case of a word would obviously change the meaning drastically. Oct 8, 2022 at 17:07
  • Well that's frustrating but not too surprising. 😅 I took it from en.wiktionary.org/wiki/signum#Latin - where it is listed as singular, genitive case. Is that table just plain wrong, or...?
    – mangobrain
    Oct 8, 2022 at 18:28
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    Also - I'm fine with there being multiple interpretations, and yes, there is a lack of context. A little ambiguity is intentional for my use case. But my Latin is basically non existent, so curious to see what interpretations people make, and whether they're even in the same ballpark as the interpretations I intend.
    – mangobrain
    Oct 8, 2022 at 18:31
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    I was just kidding, the Wiktionary table is fine, it should be written sīgnī, but apparently Wiktionary considers this redundant (because vowels before gn are always long). I'm personally not a great fan of “guess what I meant by this” questions, but if that's what you're after, okay… Oct 8, 2022 at 21:19
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    Noted, thanks! Case in point, I don't know enough of the language to know you were just kidding. :) I promise this isn't a "guess what this means, look how clever I am". I think I've translated a particular phrase, but I have no idea whether I've done it correctly or not. In use it'll appear without (written) context - think a crest or family motto kind of thing. What I think I've translated is "for the love of signals" - but I have no idea how close I've got, or what other potential translations back into English would be.
    – mangobrain
    Oct 8, 2022 at 21:33

2 Answers 2

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I would take it to mean "for love of the signum", but I would need some context to guess which of signum's many meanings is meant.

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    Thanks! That is as intended, so I'm not a million miles away. The primary meaning I have in mind is "signal" in the sense of "message" or "sequence of information", but other interpretations are welcome and ambiguity is a feature, not a bug, for my use case. I suppose follow up questions (if you don't mind) would be: is the meaning I gave a valid possible interpretation of "signum", and is my use of the genitive singular correct, or would another be more appropriate?
    – mangobrain
    Oct 9, 2022 at 17:10
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The word signum means most basically a sign or indication of something. So, for example, Quid signi? means "What is the proof?" or "What is the indication?" Here is another example from Terrence:

hoc est signi: ubi primum poterit, se illinc subducet, scio. (This is the indication, I know: as soon as she can, she will get away from there.)

So, in your phrase, the sense, to which it exists at all, is "for love, (this is) the sign"


Here is an example from Cicero, Pro Caelio:

Huic tristi ac derecto seni responderet Caelius se nulla cupiditate inductum de via decessisse. Quid signi?

To this glum and outspoken old man Caelius would reply that no mad passion caused him to stray from the right path. What proof of this would he give? Trans: Robert Gardner

Here is another example from Quintilian:

Cicero pro Cluentio P. Popilium et Tiberium Guttam dicit non iudicii corrupti sed ambitus esse damnatos. Quid signi? Quod accusatores eorum, qui erant ipsi ambitus damnati, e lege sint post hanc victoriam restituti.

Cicero in Pro Cluentio said that Publius Popilius and Tiberius Gutta were condemned not for giving a corrupt verdict, but bribery. What is the proof of this? That their accusers, who had themselves been convicted of bribery, were acquitted in accordance with the law after their victory.

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    For your translation to be correct, it would have to be signum, the nominative. Quid + gen. is an idiomatic construction that doesn't extend here. (Cf. quid novi, "what's new?")
    – cmw
    Oct 12, 2022 at 18:33
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    @cmw It's actually not my translation, it is that of Robert Gardner (d. 1972), the classical scholar. But I guess you and your upvoters know more about Latin than he did. Oct 12, 2022 at 20:03
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    @cmw I thought the same, but he's right on the non-partitive genitive usage: see the L&S entry for signum, which mentions its use with a bunch of neuter pronouns, including hoc, id, nil and quid. That said, I don't think this construction could plausibly be construed as a translation of the OP's phrase, since it doesn't seem like the neuter pronoun can be understood.
    – brianpck
    Oct 13, 2022 at 2:12
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    @brianpck Yes, for sure quid signi is fine, but that's not what we see here with pro amore signi. My contention is not with that, but in particular if you can do pro amore signi, which I don't see how.
    – cmw
    Oct 13, 2022 at 2:15
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    I realize I might haven't been clear: quid signi (like quid novi) is fine, but pro amore signi isn't.
    – cmw
    Oct 13, 2022 at 2:15

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