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Questions tagged [ambiguity]

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"hōc enim ūnō modō...scelus" or "hoc enim ūnō modō...scelus" ? (Ritchie's Fabulae faciles, §20)

I read in Ritchie's Fabulae faciles ([Hercules, §20], macrons are mine): Vbi Herculēs fīnem fēcit, Pȳthia prīmō tacēbat; tandem tamen iussit eum ad urbem Tīryntha īre et Eurysthēī rēgis omnia ...
suizokukan's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
127 views

On the (alleged) ambiguity of "Fabricius a subsellis demisso capite discesserat" (Cic. Clu. 58)

Some Latinist scholars (e.g. Lavency (1986) and Longrée (2014), i.a.; see the full references at the bottom of this post) have noted that the following example from Cicero could in principle be ...
Mitomino's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
565 views

Did poets use ambiguity in poetry?

Ambiguity seems very likely in Latin, due to the identicalness of inflected forms, flexibility of word order, homophony, and the like. In many other languages, ambiguous sentences are often used in ...
Kotoba Trily Ngian's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
201 views

Ambiguity of genitive

In some nouns the genitive singular is the same as another case, such as: First declension: fīliī could also be nominative plural Second declension: fīliae could also nominative plural Some third ...
Dan R.'s user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
153 views

How to translate this particular phrase? Is it ambiguous?

(From Ovid Apollo and Daphne, book 1 of Metamorphoses) ut canis in vacuo leporem cum Gallicus arvo vidit, et hic praedam pedibus petit, ille salutem; alter inhaesuro similis iam iamque tenere ...
mike rodent's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
226 views

What does Valerius Maximus mean in the line “eoque ictu origo et principium fortioris tragoediae extinctum est.”?

Valerius Maximus, in Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, describes the death of Aeschylus (V.Max. 9.12(ext).2): Aeschyli uero poetae excessus quem ad modum non uoluntarius, sic propter nouitatem casus ...
BtureP's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
2k views

"Aurea prima sata est aetas" - is there ambiguity here?

I'm (re)teaching myself Latin (I studied at school decades ago), and I've just picked up a book of excerpts from Ovid. Aurea prima sata est aetas, quae vindice nullo, sponte sua, sine lege fidem ...
mike rodent's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
207 views

Does word order lessen the ambiguity in Accusativus cum Infinitivo?

A question was recently asked about how to say "I thinks he loves me" in Latin, because the most straightforward translation is ambiguous as to who may be loving who: Puto eam me amare In ...
Adam's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
173 views

Hidden from/by you

I answered a question a moment ago and I contemplated phrasing "hidden from you" as a te absconditum. But then I realized that the pronoun could also be taken as an agent, rendering it "...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
1k views

Disambiguation of "nobis vobis" and "nobis nobis"

For many words, the dative and ablative take the same form. Two examples are nos and vos (nobis and vobis, respectively). Imagine you want to say something like "from us to you [plural]" (where "...
luchonacho's user avatar
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9 votes
4 answers
2k views

Can 'in-' mean both 'in' and 'no'?

The prefix in- can mean "in" or "into" or similar, as in inire. It can also mean "non-" or "un-", as in infelix. Both meanings of the prefix are attested, but I am not familiar with any case where ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
722 views

How to translate "from nothing to existence" preferably keeping ambiguity

What's a possible Latin motto meaning roughly "from nothing to existence/reality/something"? I'd like it to be ambiguous if possible, preferably implying "(something) comes into being from nothing" ...
alices_and_bobs's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
92 views

How to resolve ambiguities with the infinitive

In the Vulgata, Titus 3:8 reads as follows: Fidelis sermo est: et de his volo te confirmare: ut curent bonis operibus præesse qui credunt Deo. Hæc sunt bona, et utilia hominibus. In particular, ...
Expedito Bipes's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
109 views

Are the pronoun-looking forms of quire attested?

The verb quire is conjugated like ire, and there are some forms that look like an interrogative or relative pronoun. Those forms are quīs and quī. Are these attested in classical ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
248 views

How "sōlā fidē" means what it is supposed to mean

The question is whether the phrase (a) denies there being more than one faith or (b) excludes there being any other means of salvation. BACKGROUND I am assuming that the phrase is intended to ...
Catomic's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
133 views

The (implied) meaning of "Et" in "Et in medio..." of Ubi Caritas

Here is a passage in Ubi Caritas: Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur: Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus. Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites. Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus. The English ...
Sunny Pun's user avatar
  • 275
6 votes
3 answers
280 views

Two possible translations of a hymn: which is most likely right?

I came across this catholic hymn, whose text can be found in various versions online, and I found the following: Jesu, rex admirabilis, Et triumphator nobilis, Dulcedo ineffabilis, Totus ...
MickG's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
425 views

Can one recreate the ambiguity of the (incorrect) sentence "You can learn writing." in Latin?

It seems (to me at least) that with regard to the English sentence You can learn writing. the following is true: Strictly speaking, the sentence is grammatically incorrect w.r.t. standard modern ...
guest's user avatar
  • 773
12 votes
2 answers
574 views

Does Latin have a mechanism to disambiguate possessive pronouns of the same gender referring to distinct persons?

Question: does Latin have a grammatical mechanism to disambiguate the ambiguous use of `his' in the third of the three following English sentences? Person A wrote a book. Then person B wrote a ...
guest's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
133 views

Who asked whom about the cape of parchment? And who answered?

I quote this cautionary tale about the dangers of studying Scholastic logic in full because it's just too good not to, but my question is only about the part in bold face: Parisius accidit, quod ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Dative–ablative ambiguity

When I first looked into Latin, I saw in a textbook that the dative and ablative singular are the same in the second declension: nom. servus acc. servum gen. servi dat. servō abl. servō voc. serve ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
512 views

Nominative-accusative ambiguity

It's the Middle Ages and you're explaining to someone how to play rock-paper-scissors. You say: Cisorium pergamenum vincit. Wait a minute. Both of those nouns, being neuter, are the same in both ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
62 views

Ab eo abeo ; In clino inclino Are there other jingles of this form?

Quintilian told his students to watch out for ambiguity where two words could be heard as one. Medieval writers seem to have enjoyed such word-play. Are there other examples like these either written ...
Hugh's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
534 views

Ambiguities in De Bello Gallico 1.3.3

There are a couple words and phrases which are ambiguous to me in Caesar's De Bello Gallico, 1.3.3. I'll reproduce the text, here, which I got from the Perseus digital library. Ad eas res ...
ktm5124's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
392 views

Sapiens: tasty or smart?

The verb sapere can mean tasting like something or having a sense of taste. The latter can be understood figuratively close to "to be wise or sensible". Dictionaries list the participle sapiens ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
349 views

Is sal ever neuter?

Are there instances in known literature where sal, "salt", is neuter instead of masculine? If yes (as it now seems), can it be freely used as both masculine and neuter or is there a difference? The ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
623 views

Hit the lamb with the flower

Page 18 of "Prosodic Phrasing in Adolescents with High-Functioning Autism" by Jessica Mayo, a doctoral dissertation that has nothing to do with Latin (but watch for the relevance, it's coming), ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
682 views

Victorum: victus or victor

The (masculine) plural genitive of both the participle victus and the derived noun victor is victorum. If I write, for example, uxores victorum infelices erant, it is unclear which wives were unhappy. ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
737 views

Soli Deo gloria: sol or solus?

In the phrase Soli Deo gloria one can read soli in two different ways: If it is solus, the phrase means "glory only to the God" or "glory to the only God". If it is sol, the phrase means "glory to ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
148 views

Is the unmarked 1st-declension ablative in writing ever jarring or confusing?

Occasionally while reading, I've mistaken a first-declension ablative for a nominative, or vice versa,* and gotten confused for a moment until I sorted it out. Both appear the same in writing, of ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
646 views

Wordplay with "Vox Populi" (populus, m vs. populus, f)

Say I want to mock up the idiom "Vox Populi" using not "populus" (m, people) but "populus" (f, poplar tree). Meaning something like "the sound of the poplar leaves rustling". Do I have a way to ...
Victor Dulepov's user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
1k views

Omnia vincit amor: vincere or vincire?

The phrase omnia vincit amor (from Vergilius' tenth Ecloga; see full text in Latin and English) is typically translated as "love conquers everything". However, vincit can come from either vincere (to ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
265 views

Does "Sum faber" necessarily mean "I am a craftsman," or can it mean "My name is Faber"?

I understand that a legitimate, though perhaps uncommon, way to introduce oneself in Latin is: [Ego] sum Iulius I also know that in Latin, as in English, people's names are often connected to ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
97 views

Ambiguity of "sōlus"

Dædalus solus volare didicit. Does that mean: Dædalus alone learned to fly? Dædalus learned to fly alone? Dædalus learned on his own to fly? How could you indicate each of those meanings without ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
1k views

What word order resolves the ambiguity of two nominative nouns in a sentence?

This question is a beginner's confusion about sentences of the form: [subject_noun] [object_noun] est. E.g. Bob agricola est. From my understanding, both the subject and object are declined in ...
modulus0's user avatar
  • 253
10 votes
2 answers
219 views

Ambiguitas casus genitivi?

The first sentence of the introduction to the Systema Naturæ by Linnaeus is: Homo mundi intraturus theatrum quæritur Quis sit. How do you tell what noun goes with mundi? Grammatically, two ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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