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In Latin, how would you refer to the concept of sorting events according to temporal proximity (i.e. most recent, or nearest to now, first); as opposed to sorting by priority, or starting from the beginning and proceeding in chronological order.

I thought something along the lines of proximus tempus or proxima temporis, but they seem to translate to simply "next time".


A quick example to help illustrate

I hope this is a helpful example. Imagine something to the effect of:

Person#1: "Tell me what happened."
Person#2: "I wouldn't even know where to begin."

The response could be to:

  • Start from the beginning or first event.
  • Start with the most urgent, important, significant or highest priority event.
  • Start with the most recent or next upcoming event.
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One Latin word for "proximity" is proximitas and "temporal" can be translated as temporalis. Therefore I would translate "in order of temporal proximity" as in ordine proximitatis temporalis.

This is in contrast with in ordine chronologico or in ordine prioritatis. Alternatively, you could drop the in and go with the plain ablative ordine.

  • Actually, my original assumption was proximus temporalis. But after looking into it, it seems temporalis is closer to "temporary" than "time" itself. Whay do you think about that? – tjt263 Nov 19 '18 at 9:04
  • @tjt263 It means various things, but the best overall translation of temporalis is "time-related". It can mean "temporary", but it is also widely used as "temporal". The phrase proximus temporalis means roughly "the closest time-related guy" or something in that direction; it has good elements, but I can't quite make sense of it. You need something to say "closeness" instead of "close" here, but proximitas is probably not the only option. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 19 '18 at 9:14
  • Where does "guy" come from? Which part indicates or refers to a person or object? – tjt263 Nov 20 '18 at 10:34
  • @tjt263 It comes from the fact that proximus is masculine. In isolation (without a noun) and without context a masculine adjective often refers to a human male. If it were proximum (neuter) instead, I would have replace "guy" with "thing". – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 20 '18 at 10:56
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The answer given by Joonas is good, and exactly along the lines that you suggest. However, this concept can often seem rather awkward to express in Latin, so I think it worthwhile to expound more widely on it.

We should first remember that proximus means not only 'nearest', but 'adjacent'. Whether it is to be translated as 'most recent' or 'next to come' has to be indicated by the context. Thus we might see proxima nocte abivit and proximo die statuerat, where it is clear that the actions were in the past and took place ‘on the night before’ and ‘on the preceding day’. In the opposite sense we might find proximo die abibunt, ‘they will go away on the day following’, se dixit proximo tempore aliter acturum esse, 'he said that next time he would act differently' and so on.

A useful word for referring to the past is the adjective nuperus,‘recent’ which has normal comparative and superlative form ; the corresponding adverb is nuper, ‘lately’, which has comparative nuperius and superlative nuperrime. To indicate future action more explicitly than using proximus, the participle (in)sequens may serve better.

Some other words that might be useful in this sort of context are the adverbs temperius, ‘sooner’, ‘earlier’, serius, ‘later’ and, when describing the regular succession in chronological order which your question specifies, deinceps may be particularly apposite, an adverb with the meaning 'successively' or 'in turn'.

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