Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by Handbag, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. Handbag Member

    Farnham England
    English - England
    There is a prayer in Church Latin that goes:

    ...NOS [object of ADMITTE] ...LARGITOR [nominative, = pardoner] ..ADMITTE.

    The addressee is being asked to admit the suppliant to a (previously mentioned) group, while acting as a pardoner.

    It is the ‘while acting as’ that interests me; he could have put ENS I suppose, being Late Latin, but it is just implied. Is there a grammar that mentions this construction? I failed to find it in Kennedy, or Allen & Greenhough.
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Largitor stands in apposition to the subject tu (which is left unexpressed). You can read a little about this in A&G. They don't give any examples in the imperative, but there is one example with implicit ego as subject: litteras Graecas senex didici ("I, an old man, learned Greek letters", i.e. I learned Greek as an old man).
  3. Handbag Member

    Farnham England
    English - England
    Thanks Cap’n, that really helps to clarify things for me.

    My remaining difficulty is that a sentence whose main verb is an imperative has two subjects: the asker and the addressee, who (if made explicit) would be in the nominative and vocative respectively.

    In the given sentence, if the subject had been singular (rather than the plural ‘we’ which occurs earlier), then LARGITOR could be in apposition either to the asker or the addressee.

    If the sense were to be “I, a pardoner, ask you, a lord, to admit me....”, would we see


    What do you think? I guess it’s just an ambiguity resolvable only by context.
  4. CapnPrep Senior Member

    This is not correct: a verb can only have one subject, and this goes for the imperative as well. In a 2nd person imperative, the subject is the addressee. Anything in the nominative (or in the vocative) refers to the addressee, never to the asker.

    You can't add ego to this sentence. There is only one verb, admitte, and its subject can only be tu. But notice how in your English sentence, you added the verb ask. This changes things, because more verbs means more subjects.

    It turns out that the original example (I assume you're referring to the Second Intercession) also contains an extra "asking" verb:
    intra quorum nos consortium, non aestimator meriti, sed veniae, quaesumus, largitor admitte
    If you changed the plural quaesumus to singular quaeso as you suggested, then the two nominative phrases (aestimator meriti and veniae largitor) would indeed become ambiguous, referring either to the subject of quaeso (ego) or to that of admitte (tu). But again, this isn't because the imperative has two subjects, but because there are two verbs in the sentence.
  5. djmc Senior Member

    English - United Kingdom
    Ego largitor te dominum precor ut me admittes

    Largitor the nominative would be in apposition to ego (the ego could be omitted), and dominum the accusative, in apposition to te. With prayers, requests etc. the vocative would be more common. For example te domine precor, I beg you O Lord.
  6. Handbag Member

    Farnham England
    English - England
    Thanks Cap’n for this further clarification. However, there is still a difficulty:

    I omitted the quaesumus because the sentence is valid without it. And its meaning is unchanged. The fact is that any sentence containing an imperative is in direct speech, and thus really does imply two subjects, the person speaking and the person addressed. You can replace the imperative, with a verb plus ut and subjunctive, as DJMC points out, but you don’t need to.

    I didn’t mean that you would write ego, my ‘sc.’ meant it could be understood, in the same way as tu.

    This has become a minor matter, since you solved my difficulty by pointing out the appositional aspect of largitor. But I am still finding it interesting, and wonder whether the matter is discussed in a grammar somewhere, and whether the addressee in apposition would be in the vocative.
  7. CapnPrep Senior Member

    I see what you mean — that an imperative necessarily involves both the speaker and the addressee — but grammatically speaking, there can only be one subject. So there is no ambiguity in a simple sentence like Largitor me admitte: largitor can only refer to tu. Adding a verb like "I say" or "I ask" may not change the overall meaning very much, but it definitely makes the syntax of the sentence more complex.

    The vocative is more usual, as djmc said above. But if the subject of the sentence also happens to be tu or vos (as in imperatives, but also in other kinds of sentences), then appositives referring to the addressee can be in either the vocative or the nominative.

    I found a brief mention of this in A&G (§340,a).
  8. XiaoRoel

    XiaoRoel Senior Member

    Vigo (Galiza)
    galego, español
    Supongo que te referirás al canon de la consagración que despues del "memento" de difuntos ruega por los vivos pecadores:
    [et omnibus sanctis tuis :] intra quorum nos consortium, non aestimator meriti, sed veniae, quaesumus, largitor admitte.

    En traducción oficial católica al español:
    en cuya compañía te rogamos nos admitas, no en atención a nuestros meritos, sino por tu gran misericordia.

    Una traducción más liter
    En cura compañía (la de omnibus sanctis) admítenos, no como juez de (nuestros) méritos, te rogamos, sino de (tu) perdón, tú que das con largueza.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2010
  9. Imber Ranae Senior Member

    English - USA
    Also keep in mind that quaesumus is parenthetical, and means little more than "we pray". It wouldn't be normal for such a parenthesis to have an explicitly named subject.
  10. Handbag Member

    Farnham England
    English - England
    Imber, the point is that an imperative sentence has two people involved: the speaker and the addressee.

    The quaesumus is irrelevant, the presence of two subjects - one asking and the other doing - is what exercises the mind.

    We must remember that language is not an invention of grammarians, but an organic growth, and there may be no 'answer' to what is probably a non-problem. But I'd be interested to see any mention in an authoritative text. Particularly on whether a noun in apposition to the addressee is in the vocative.
  11. Imber Ranae Senior Member

    English - USA
    Yes, two people are involved, but that doesn't matter. The addressee is the focal point of an imperative clause. The grammatical subject can only be the person who actually performs, or is the patient of, the action of the verb, not the one who orders it done. It would produce syntactic chaos if it were otherwise. This is true for Latin, this is true for English, this is true for every Indo-European language I've studied. Likewise the vocative refers only to the addressee, never to the addresser.

    In your example this would hardly be required anyway, since you already have a direct object nos which, being first person, necessarily refers to the speaker. Thus any noun referring to the speakers would be accusative in apposition with nos. Simple.

    An authoritative text? How would you know that it isn't just repeating the invented rules of a grammarian?

    Look, my knowledge of this isn't based on some simplistic rule in a schoolbook primer. It's based on the considerable amount of actual Latin texts I've read, in addition to the fact that every Latin grammar and every scholarly article I've encountered has nowhere mentioned such a usage (and the same is doubtless also true for the others in this thread who have already patiently addressed your question with the same answer). But if you think you've found an example of such, let's see it. I'd be overjoyed and fascinated to come upon a novel usage like this. The missal you brought up in the OP isn't it, though.

    Now, as to whether an appositive to the subject, expressed or implied, of an imperative sentence should be in the nominative or vocative case—that is a different question altogether, but a good one nonetheless. The answer is not so simple, and in fact either case may be used. But can we draw a distinction between the two? It would appear that we can, albeit not always with absolute certainty.

    The difficulty is of course compounded by the fact that the two cases are so often indistinguishable. However, a somewhat simplified formulation can be applied which says that the case will be determined by the relation of the appositive noun (together with its attributes) to the verbal idea of the sentence. That is to say, Are the two closely connected with each other, such that the former explains the circumstances or condition under which the latter is to occur? If so, then the nominative is much more likely to be used; Or is the appositive noun merely a name or attribute of the addressee that has no real effect upon the task which he is being enjoined or besought to carry out? In this case we can expect a vocative.

    As for the example in your missal, the former is clearly the more applicable answer: It's not saying "Admit us, O non-judger of merit but bestower of grace", which makes little sense (not to mention vocative phrases are rarely so elaborate). Rather it's "Admit us, [O Lord,] not as a judge of our deserts, but as the bestower of grace, into...[etc.]"

    And this doesn't apply only to imperative sentences, but also more generally to any sentence wherein someone is being addressed, and not just for appositive nouns but for adjectives and participles as well (the latter of which is unlikely to be vocative for the very reasons already stated). So the choice can be between the vocative and whatever other case the addressee, whether mentioned by name or by personal pronoun, happens to be in.

    For a more detailed discussion on this matter and some further considerations there's a decent (and relatively recent) paper you can view here [PDF file], although I cannot affirm how authoritative it is.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  12. Handbag Member

    Farnham England
    English - England
    Imber, I don’t know if your tirade is provoked by a misunderstanding or what, but I’ll have one more go and then be silent forever. After all, my original difficulty was quickly addressed by the Cap’n, and the imperative/subject/object caper is a minor follow-on that I found (and still find) of some interest.

    If I write rogo te malum es, ‘I’ am present as a subject, and, if the addressee obeys, he is also a subject, doing the eating. Both these persons can be qualified by appositional nouns. The sentence malum es has the same meaning, but now it seems we may not attach a noun to the asker, simply because some ‘syntactic sugar’ has been left out. I am merely wondering whether any grammar guru has discussed this.

    Of course an authoritative grammarian (AllenNgreenhough, Bennett, Kennedy...) will cite rules – but he knows better than anyone when a rule is inadequate, and will discuss & explain the point.

    The meaning of the Church Latin is perfectly plain, and I do not cite it as an example of anything.

    I don’t agree with your translation bestower of grace. The prayer does bang on rather about sinners & mercy, so I think the forgiveness shade of venia (L+S II, OLD 4) is to be preferred, and thus pardoner for veniae largitor in my precis.

    And........ the rest is silence........ – from me at any rate.

Share This Page