26 votes
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Why do ablatives of the 3rd declension sometimes end on -e, at other times on -i?

(This answer is based on Weiss's Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin and Clackson and Horrocks's Blackwell History of the Latin Language.) The first thing to know about these two ablative ...
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20 votes
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When and why did the ablative form?

The Latin ablative case represents a merger of three earlier Proto-Indo European (PIE) cases: the ablative (sometimes referred to as the 'from' case, because it was used to express ideas of source, ...
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  • 17.7k
19 votes

Why does the ablative case also include the locative?

There is a locative case in Proto-Indo-European, but in many later languages it merged into other cases, Slavonic languages being an exception. (So Slavonic didn't invent the locative case.) Old ...
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19 votes
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How do we know that Italian words come from accusatives, not ablatives?

Professor Martin Maiden (Professor of the Romance Languages, Fellow of Trinity College) writes that "The overwhelming majority of modern nouns and adjectives [in Italian - Alex B.] appear to ...
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15 votes

When and why did the ablative form?

This is a very abbreviated answer, which I will intend to expand on in the future (unless others get in there before me). The short answer is that the ablative didn't replace any earlier case - it ...
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  • 4,548
14 votes

How do we know that Italian words come from accusatives, not ablatives?

Italian noun and adjective forms are not derived exclusively from Classical Latin accusative forms: Sometimes an Italian form comes from the Classical Latin nominative, as in the singular form of the ...
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13 votes
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Ave Verum Corpus: why ablative?

The subject is latus. Definition 6 in OLD is most relevant here: 6 (of solid objects, usu. w. abl.) To be bathed or soaked (in a fluid specified or implied), run, stream, overflow, etc.) For ...
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13 votes
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Should “cum” be included in this sentence or not?

In this case, celeritate should be used with cum. The general rule for the ablative of manner is that it should be used with cum if the ablative isn't modified by an adjective. Dale A. Grote explains ...
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12 votes

"Miserando atque eligendo"

I read through Ron Conte's blog post and find it sloppy and unscholarly. He makes the (correct) point that Fr. Z's proposed translation sounds literal and stinted and, almost in the same words, asks ...
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12 votes

Conquering darkness by science

The macron (the bar over the a) is a modern reading aid, not a compulsory orthographic convention. It's not usually written outside of dictionaries, grammar, and text editions prepared specifically ...
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11 votes

Does the "re" in emails have an ancient origin?

Yes, it does have an ancient origin. See RFC 5332 (3.6.5): When used in a reply, the field body MAY start with the string "Re: " (an abbreviation of the Latin "in re", meaning &...
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11 votes

In contemporary spoken Latin, do people mark the 1st-declension ablative case?

tl;dr: as the risk of mistake is higher than for other suffixes, in contexts where analyzing the cases is difficult (like chanting psalms in a fast pace) people often distinguish the length less for -...
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10 votes
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Genitive vs Ablative of Price

Roundly, the ablative is used for price and the genitive for value. The ablative of price occurs with verbs of acquiring, buying, selling etc., as in mensam quadraginta sestertiis emit. As well as ...
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10 votes
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Determining dative vs ablative for coelo

The original sentence comes from Vergilius: Carmina vel caelo possunt deducere lunam (Eclogae 8.69) 'Poems can lead even the moon down from the sky'. In this original sentence carmina is the plural ...
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  • 6,442
9 votes

Can the ablative take a non-human agent or a human instrument?

Yes, this is attested in Classical Latin, particularly in the case of the non-human serving as an agent (taking the preposition). Allen and Greenough, §405: The ablative of the agent is commonest ...
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9 votes
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Declension uncertainty regarding Ablative / Nominative

One can split up the process of finding the case to three steps: Find all possible cases a word could possibly be. Also bear in mind that there might be several options for the base word, like ...
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8 votes

In contemporary spoken Latin, do people mark the 1st-declension ablative case?

In contemporary spoken Latin in Finnish all vowel quantities are carefully articulated. There is nothing special about the first declension ablative. I have therefore learned to expect it, and it will ...
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8 votes

In contemporary spoken Latin, do people mark the 1st-declension ablative case?

I don't know about the Vatican. But I've met very few people at conventicula, living-Latin events, etc., who make any distinction whatsoever. I don't generally have a problem, I think in part because ...
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8 votes
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When to use the Greek accusative?

Among Bennett (§180), Allen & Greenough (§397b), and Gildersleeve & Lodge (§338), the last provides the most detail on this construction. Two varieties are identified: Definite: The ...
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8 votes
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"Miserando atque eligendo"

Fortunately, there is a straightforward answer. In medieval Latin, the ablative gerund often communicates manner. The result is not so different from a participle or even an adverb or adverbial phrase....
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8 votes

"Miserando atque eligendo"

FWIW, Pope Francis spoke about this recently (in an article translated into English by five independent experts): "I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo [By Having Mercy and by ...
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8 votes

"Miserando atque eligendo"

(I am posting my previous comment here in part because I hope this will help, in some small way, to get this site past the beta stage. However, I do not think my comments deserve a bounty.) Fr. Z ...
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8 votes

Can the ablative take a non-human agent or a human instrument?

The following is my summary of Silvia Luraghi 2010 paper, in the tabular format (obviously, here I summarized those parts that are relevant to your question only). All the examples are hers, including ...
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8 votes
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Mirabile visu, horribile dictu ― is this the ablative?

Never forget about meaning, without which an expression turns into a collection of separate words. Your question presumes that the two words form a noun-modifier phrase mīrābilis vīsus "a strange,...
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7 votes

Why does the ablative case also include the locative?

Both Latin and Slavic languages descend from parent Proto-Indo-European language spoken around 3500 BC north of the Caspian Sea. PIE language, as it is reconstructed, had the following cases: ...
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7 votes

Is "cum haruspex in templo cenaret" correct Latin in this sentence?

In this instance, alas, though I'm sure in no other, you are mistaken. Haruspex is a nominative singular noun meaning a kind of soothsayer. It takes a third-person singular verb, which cenaret is. ...
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7 votes

Dative–ablative ambiguity

You are right that there will be the occasional ambiguity. But there are several ways in which the ambiguity is normally resolved. The ablative without a preposition is not normally used with a person....
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7 votes
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Can the absolute ablative be used with a prepositional phrase?

Although we do not have native competence of Latin, my impression is that alleged Ablative Absolute constructions like "Caesare Romae" or "Caesare in Hispania" are NOT possible. Or at least, after ...
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  • 6,442
7 votes

Consecutive ablatives

It seems to me this was not very common. For instance, Pinkster 2015 postulates the following observation, based on his corpus research: "The arguments of three-place verbs are always distinctly ...
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7 votes
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Why would the prae­po­si­tion "per" ᴇᴠᴇʀ take an ab­la­tive in­stead of an ac­cu­sa­tive com­ple­ment?

The L&S entry is pretty clear, in my opinion. Per takes the accusative, but it has mistakenly been used with the ablative. It cites two examples from later inscriptions: Inscr. Miseni Repert. ex ...
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