Principium loquendi Dominum in Osee Translation

By Oliverliver123, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Aug 17, 2018.

  1. Please tell me this is correct.
    principium loquendi Dominum in Osee
    The beginning of speaking the Lord in Hosea
    It’s an odd construction, isn’t it?
  2. What is the Latin or the English supposed to say? Where did you find it?
  3. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    Is it from Hosea 1:2
    The rest of the verse is amazing too:
    vade sume tibi uxorem fornicationum et filios fornicationum quia fornicans fornicabitur terra a Domino
  4. Yes, it’s from Hosea. Is my translation correct?
  5. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    I can't reconcile the grammar with the KJV translation.
  6. Also, I don’t see how the rest of the verse is particularly that amazing.

    The KJV was translated from the Textus Receptus, a group of original Greek and Hebrew, whilst the Vulgate is translated from the original manuscripts into Latin. If you’d like a translation of the Vulgate, the Douay Rheims is your best bet, but not the Challoner Cersion.

    I also find it strange that the
    Fornicabitur a domino
    Translated to
    Will be fornicated away from the Lord. A domino should be the ablative of agent here causing the fornication. That is not the case however.
  7. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Principium loquendi dominum in Osee is certainly very wrong Latin for the meaning that, according to both the KJV and the Douay-Rheims, it is supposed to have.

    I've thought of a hypothetical explanation, though, but unfortunately I lack any evidence and I don't know how likley it is. I'll still explain it for what it's worth.

    A few years ago, I came across an utterly ungrammatical construction in Aquinas, which was cognitio existendi deum, supposed to mean "the knowledge of God existing, the knowledge that God exists". I posted about it on the forum and the conclusion of the ensuing discussion was that Aquinas had been translating from Greek, and had in this place translated a Greek construction in a nonsensical way. In Greek, you can take an infinitive or an accusative and infinitive clause and make this into a substantive by putting the definite article in front of it. The definite article will then decline according as the situation requires, and the infinitive or accusative and infinitive clause that follows it will stay the same. For example, το ειναι is literally "the to-be", i.e. "(the fact of) being", "existence", and το ειναι θεον literally "the God-to-be", i.e. "the fact that God is/exists", "God existing", "God's existence". Then you can only decline the το and make it e.g. genitive: του ειναι, "of the to-be", i.e. "of (the fact of) being", "of existence" and του ειναι θεον, "of the God-to-be", i.e. "of the fact that God is/exists", "of God existing", "of God's existence". The genitive definite article του followed by an infinitive alone can naturally enough translate to a genitive gerund in Latin, so existendi is an acceptable translation of του ειναι (at least in medieval Latin, when existo was commonly used with the meaning "exist"; this was rarer in classical Latin). But what Aquinas failed to realize was that even though existendi worked as a translation of του ειναι, it became utterly nonsensical when the whole phrase was του ειναι θεον. In this phrase, the genitive article makes the whole phrase genitive (which is impossible to do literally in Latin), not just ειναι. Yet Aquinas translated του ειναι to existendi as if it had stood alone, and then translated θεον to its literal equivalent, the accusative deum, thus producing the ungrammatical phrase existendi deum.

    When I saw in the English translations of the Hosea verse that loquendi dominum was supposed to be about God speaking (rather than speaking about God), you can see why I was reminded of the Aquinas construction, because it's strikingly similar: existendi deum = of God existing; loquendi dominum = of the Lord speaking. So I thought, could this verse have been translated from a Greek phrase similar to that translated by Aquinas? When I looked the verse up in the Septuagint, however, I saw that that construction is not used here. The Septuagint has a noun meaning "speech" followed by the genitive of the word for "Lord", a very straightforward construction and one that has a direct Latin equivalent, nothing that should have confused a Latin translator or led them to make such a mistake as Aquinas did.

    Now my very theoretical hypothesis is that perhaps this verse was translated from some other Greek version that did have a construction like the του ειναι θεον one. Or, alternatively, but perhaps this is yet less likely, maybe mistranslation of the του ειναι θεον sort of construction was widespread enough at some point in a certain community that it was (horror!) actually adopted into common parlance and the translator of this verse just thought it sounded stylish here and decided to use it.
    Fornicari is deponent; it means "to fornicate" not "to be fornicated" (does the latter even make sense?).

    Fornicari a domino = literally "to fornicate from the lord", i.e. to be unfaithful to the Lord, break his law, or the like.

    It would be blasphemy to say that the Lord caused fornication. :p
    Last edited by Pacifica, Aug 17, 2018
  8. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    I've just thought of another, and perhaps slightly more likely, hypothesis concerning loquendi dominum: maybe the Latin translator, for some unfathomable reason, mistook the genitive (or Hebrew equivalent) of the word meaning "lord" that followed the word meaning "speech" for an objective genitive (or Hebrew equivalent) while it was a subjective one, thus misunderstanding what was literally equivalent to sermo domini to mean a speech made about the Lord rather than by the Lord. Then, he decided to translate it somewhat clumsily (but not grammatically wrongly) as loquendi dominum, "of speaking (of) the Lord".

    Perhaps he was translating from Hebrew and there was something in the Hebrew construction that facilitated that misinterpretation (in spite of the context pointing in the opposite direction), but I don't know any Hebrew so I can't say much more.
    Last edited by Pacifica, Aug 17, 2018
  9. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Some versions of the Vulgate verse apparently have domino instead of dominum. With domino, it could mean theoretically either "the beginning of speaking to the Lord", i.e. the point when Hosea began to speak to the Lord, or "the beginning of speaking for the Lord", i.e. what for the Lord was the beginning of speaking, the point when the Lord began to speak. The latter would harmonize more with the English translations (though it's still a bit of an awkward choice of construction in the context). It seems to be a vexed passage, in any case. I don't know what's in the manuscripts, whether some manuscripts have domino or if it's an editorial emendation.

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