Determining proper noun case for a statement.

By Michael Zwingli, in 'Latin Beginners', Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Hi, all.

    I was just trying to write something in Latin for practice, and I am a bit hung up on what case to employ for a noun. What I am trying to express is rendered in English as follows: "The judge's words were marked by untruth." The particular point about which I am unsure is which grammatical case should be taken by falsitas ("untruth") and its attendant adjective insignis (for "being marked by"). I was thinking that both should take the ablative, which would render the sentence: Verba iudicis falsitate insigni erant. (with esse in the indicative imperfect). Please give me a check on this, if you would.


    I guess what I am asking, in essence, is: does the ablative case govern instrumentality in Latin, as in when trying to express "by means of X, Y happens/manifests/is apparent?
    Issacus Divus likes this.
  2. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    Verba needs to agree with insignis: verba insignia erant.
  3. Thanks, Bitmap. Any feedback on the case that falsitas, "untruth", should take?
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    The ablative.
  5. Gratias ago, Pax, valde!

    I have one more question regarding this: I was unsure whether it is better to use "insignitus" as opposed to "insignis". Any comments?
  6. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Nope, it can only be insignia.
  7. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Not sure what would be wrong with insignita.
  8. Hey, guys,

    After having looked into the nature of these two words (insignis and insignitus) from a particularly etymological point of view, I think that I might have a couple of insights into what distinguishes them.

    Insignis, is composed of: in- (meaning "in" or "inside") + signum (meaning "a sign/mark/emblem" or perhaps "symbol") + -is (rendering the word in adjectival form). Resultingly, it seems that we can interpret either of the following: (apparent) in (the form of) a sign/mark/emblem/symbol, or (remarkable/conspicuous/distinguished/extraordinary for having) a sign/mark/emblem/symbol. To myself, then, the resultant construction can refer either to that thing which appears as a sign or to that which bears the sign and so is possessed of said thing as an inherent quality.

    Insignitus, alternately, being a participle, is formed from the verb insignio (to "mark" or to "distinguish"), which is itself formed from insignis. Since it is formed from a verb, it would seem that insignitus points to a trait which is the result of the action of an external agency, does it not? Since this is true, it would seem that this word cannot have the sense of (apparent) in (the form of) a sign/mark/emblem/symbol, and so cannot refer to that thing which appears as a sign, but rather must refer to that thing which has been marked or distinguished by being marked with a sign by some external agency.

    Insignitus, then, seems to have a narrower scope of meaning than insignis, and can only have one "direction of reference" (my term), while insignis seems able to have two such "directions of reference". In my example sentence above, then, either insignis or insignitus might be used. However, insignis, if used, might refer to either the verba iudicis or to the falsitas which is the inherent quality of said verba. Insignitus, on the other hand, if used, can only refer to the verba iudicis which has the falsitas as an inherent quality.

    I would like to have all of your thoughts on this distinction and on my interpretation of these two terms.

    Thanks in advance,
  9. Hemo Rusticus The Lizard King

    • Civis Illustris
    Certainly so, but the chief difference, as I see it, is that falsitas, being ablative, will have possible agency/instrumentality when used with the participle, but not when used with the adjective (in which case 'manner' would be the right term). That is, the difference between:
    'The judge's words were distinguished in their (manner/degree) of falseness.' and 'The judge's words were distinguished by their falseness (that is, distinguished as being his words as apposed to another's).

    As to the narrowness you ascribe to insignitus, I'm not sure that follows. If anything the participle, being here (as on many occasions) so near in function to a simple adjective, broadens the possibility of meaning.
  10. john abshire Member

    The judge's words were marked by untruth

    is "untruth" ablative of means?
    so no preposition a/ab required?
  11. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Is either insignis or insignitus the right word here? Don't they generally refer to physical marks?
  12. Hemo Rusticus The Lizard King

    • Civis Illustris
    What about the ever-ready insignem pietate uirum? Unless pietas is Roman slang for, say, circumcision? :D
  13. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Yes, falsitate would be a sort of ablative of means (possibly of respect with insignia but that's debatable).

    Generally speaking, "by" translates to a(b) only before an agent that is perceived as animate. So here, unless you're seeing "untruth" as a sort of conscious entity (a goddess or so) that deliberately marked the judge's words (which is rather unlikely but theoretically possible), you shouldn't use a(b).
    Last edited by Pacifica, Apr 14, 2019
  14. john abshire Member

    The judge's words were marked by untruth."
    Verba iudicis falsitate insignita erant.
    [as before mentioned insignitus needs to be insignita (plural neuter) to agree with verba.]

    referring to a physical mark, you may be thinking of insigne, insignis= (noun, 3rd declension, neuter)=distinctive mark, decoration, badge, emblem

    you may could use insignis (adjective); but from the definitions i found it seems more right to me to use the perfect participle of insignio, -ire, -ivi, -itum=mark with a characteristic feature; distinguish

    insignis, insigne=adjective=conspicuous, outstanding, notable, famous, remarkable
  15. I am impressed by how much good information can come out of these discussions.
    Nor am I, my friend, to tell you the truth...and after mulling it over, I find myself somewhat less sure about my "direction of reference" hypothesis with respect to insignis, either. What does seem to distinguish the two with certainty, though, is that insignitus appears to be the result of external agency, while with insignis that does not seem to be a necessary truth.

    Still thinking about this...
    Hemo Rusticus likes this.
  16. john abshire Member

    I think I follow you; insignitus means (literally) "having been marked"
    insignis on the other hand only means "marked", or "conspicious". It does not imply the "having been".

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