vocativo inverso, inversus vocativus (?)

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by aefrizzo, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. aefrizzo

    aefrizzo Senior Member

    Palermo, Italia
    Salve.In the family talk addressed to children, "baby talk", of Southern Italy one can hear sentences like these:
    Maria,vieni qua, la madre = Maria,come here, the mother
    Va',Maria,lo zio = Go, Maria, the oncle
    In this kind of sentences, the sender (the mother, the oncle) may be in front of the recipient (Maria, the child, regular vocative), but nevertheless she/he wants to identify her/himself and the relationship with the child, at the end of the sentence, in order to strengthen the message which is usually an order or a recommendation or an advise.
    This is acknowledged as "vocativo inverso" (= inversus vocativus?
    ) by Treccani Enciclopedia or as "allocuzione inversa" by other grammarians. Should I use the standard vocative for the latin translation of "mother" and "oncle", or what?
    Thank you.
    P.S.As reported by ConnieEyeland and the references she quotes in the "Solo Italiano" thread "A papà", this kind of sentence occurs also in Romanian, Hungarian, Egyptian, Maltese...
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Having looked at the other thread, I think I understand what you are saying.

    Maria, vieni qua, la madre means "Maria, come here, to Mama"
    Va', Maria,lo zio means "Go, Maria, to Uncle".

    I learn from the other thread that in other Southern dialects they say ".... a madre", while in standard Italian you need to say "....alla madre". Have I got it right?

    In that case, I do not see why you would want to regard la madre and lo zio as vocatives (inverted or otherwise), You certainly cannot translate them as vocatives in Latin.
  3. aefrizzo

    aefrizzo Senior Member

    Palermo, Italia
    Sorry,:rolleyes: I realize it is a weird expression even for people of Northern Italy.

    Maria, vieni qua, la madre means "Maria, come here, to Mama" :cross:.
    Va', Maria,lo zio means "Go, Maria, to Uncle".:cross:
    In both cases the only possible meaning is the understatement: listen to me, I am your mother, your uncle, a sort of spoken signature.
    Look at the following examples:
    Maria, va' a comprare il latte, la madre (go and buy..)
    Maria, lascia quell'uomo, lo zio (leave that man..)

    In both these sentences, as well as in the previous ones, la madre, lo zio are actual examples of what the Italian grammarians call "vocativo inverso" or "allocuzione inversa".
    Have a look, please at the following link, page 145

    Maybe I am misleaded by the term"vocative" and my question is silly.
    Eventually would you translate it, and how if ever? or just drop it?:)

    P.S. In the expressions "a madre", "a" is just the dialectal form of the article "la" (positively, not a dativ case).
  4. relativamente Senior Member

    catalan and spanish
    I suppose also in Latin they used special words and phrases to talk to children and also children used them. I think this is a widespread phenomenon. But most of them are lost. Maybe in Plautus or other playwriters you can find some. But I never heard about this special vocative in Latin
  5. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    I agree. In the Latin I know, we would not use a form of 'vocative' to translate those examples.
    We would use other cases or prepositions with the appropriate case to express those relationships.
  6. CapnPrep Senior Member

    I agree that the vocative is inappropriate, since in Latin (and I suppose in general, by definition), the vocative is reserved exclusively for 2nd person reference. I also think that it is kind of pointless to try to translate this grammatical feature into Latin, but I guess the least inappropriate case would be the nominative, with an understood verb, cf. "[I am] the mother", "The mother [is speaking/commanding]".
  7. aefrizzo

    aefrizzo Senior Member

    Palermo, Italia
    Although missing any hint from friends from Romania, Hungary, Egypt and Malta where they say this grammatical feature also occurs, I thank all the above contributors for their posts. Trying to summarize:
    # Silly question, no appropriate case, pointless translation. (Sorry, I don't want to be rude)
    # Forget "vocative" ( at least for this feature).
    # Possible free translation, only by clarifying the understatement (post #3 an #6) with an appropriate verb.
    Nice to hear from you.:)
  8. CapnPrep Senior Member

    This usage is somewhat reminiscent of the sign-off used to identify the writer of a letter or message, e.g. "Freddie, don't forget to feed the cat and take out the trash, Mom". I don't think writers closed their letters this way in Classical Latin, but when the Pope signs his letters at the end, he uses the nominative ("Benedictus PP. XVI", "Ioannes Paulus PP. II", etc.). See for example this scan of a letter to FDR, mentioned in another thread a few months ago.
  9. Caktus Member

    Romania - Romanian
    We have the exact same type of sentences in Romanian and they have the same meaning/function. But it seems to me that in Romanian they are also used to express the affection of the sender.
    Some examples could be:

    Son: Ce faci, mamă? (How are you, mother?)
    Mother: Bine, mamă!(I’m fine, *mother!)

    Mother: Maria, du-te să cumperi lapte, mamă!(Maria, go buy [some] milk, *mother!)

    Father: Vino aici, tăticule! (Come here, *daddy!)
    Uncle: Du-te, unchiule! (Go, *uncle!)

    In all of these examples, the vocative is used, but the words for mother and father (mamă and tată) do not have distinct vocative singular forms. They are identical to the nominative ones.
    In the second example you can see the vocative forms. Tăticule and unchiule are the vocative forms for tătic(ul) (daddy) and unchi(ul) (uncle).
    Also, in Romanian this is not “baby talk”. You could hear an 80 year old mother speaking to her adult daughter like this.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  10. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    How wonderful is this! I like the idea of an inverse vocative!
    I have not seen this structure in Latin!

    I think that, in Latin, to translate this structure, you would have to say something like "I am your mother." or the
    like. Here is how I would translate:

    veni huc, Maria! mater enim sum!

    Perhaps this structure arose because the speaker originally was urging the listener to
    address him or her by name or title...hence the vocative case in Romanian. In that case, I'd tranlsate:

    veni huc, Maria, et alloquere matrem!

    This is, as we say in English,
  11. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I agree that this is a very interesting construction. In Romanian at least it is definitely an "inverted vocative" (Romanian actually has a discreet form for the vocative case).
  12. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I wonder if such constructs could be approximated in English by:

    Maria, va' a comprare il latte, la madre (go and buy..)
    Maria, go buy (your) mother some milk. / Maria, go buy some milk for your mother.

    Vino aici, tăticule!
    Come here, to dad(dy).

    In these, some kind of dative seems like a possibility... But this doesn't cover cases such as:

    Son: Ce faci, mamă? (How are you, mother?)
    Mother: Bine, mamă!(I’m fine, *mother!)

    Son: How are you, mother?
    Mother: Mother's fine!
  13. XiaoRoel

    XiaoRoel Senior Member

    Vigo (Galiza)
    galego, español
    El vocativo se marca por una especial entonación entre pausas que lo separa del resto del mensaje y sirve a la función fática. El primer lugar de la oración en el lenguaje impresivo corresponde a la mayor importancia del contenido de la palabra que lo ocupa: sie es el vocativo lo principal en el mensaje es lq función fática, si lo ocupa otra palabra (casi siempre un verbo en imperativo) es el mandato (o el deseo urgente) lo que prima en el mensaje.
    Il vocativo è caratterizzato da un'intonazione speciale tra pause, separato dal resto del messaggio e serve para la funzione fatica. Il primo posto della frase corrisponde alla maggiore importanza del contenuto della parola che ne occupa: si è la cosa principale el vocativo è la funzione fàtica la importante nellomessaggio, se prende un'altra parola (di solito un verbo all'imperativo ) è il comando (o la voglia), quello che prevale nel messaggio.

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