Question about the word "tuba"

Cutesy

New Member

Salve omnis!
While studying for my Latin exam, I have stumbled onto a word "tuba". Now a question arises in my head: if "tuba" means "trumpet" then what is the Latin word for the instrument tuba?
Thanks for all who are able to give answer to my question. :)
 

QMF

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the ophicleide.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuba
So it hadn't been invented until long after Latin died. (We Latinists may argue semantics about it never having died, but if we're being realistic here, it had died.) If there's a "Neo-Latin" word for it, I don't know it, but there is certainly not a classical or ecclesiastical word for it.
 

Cato

Consularis

  • Consularis

The Romans didn't have the variety of musical instruments we do today.

The tuba was the long, straight military trumpet; its use in phrases like tuba nimborum (i.e. "thunder") give you an idea of how the sound was perceived.

The cornu is a more general term for "horn" (it's often associated with tuba), and since the word also refers to an animal's horn we can presume its made out of this material or is at least shaped similarly.

There is also the bucina--a curved horn also associated with shepherds and the sea-god Triton--which was used militarily to signal the change of guard watches or at messes. Again, based on these associations, it was likely a small, curved horn similar to a conche shell.

Much as the bugle was used up to the 19th century, the cornicen legionis would play tunes on trumpets that alerted troops in battle (it's certainly more sensible that having someone yell "charge!"; not only is that less effective, you also run the risk of giving away your tactics to the enemy). There were no valves like on a modern trumpet; pitch was changed by changing the purse of the lips (just like modern brass) and only certain notes--the ones that resonate the horn--could be played.
 

Cutesy

New Member

Lol. Latin is dead, and yet it is not dead...

Anyways...
Wow, thanks for the insight! I would've never known that...
But if there was no tuba in Ancient Rome, then why did they ever have to rename the instrument? To give me an extra word to study? o_0
 

Iynx

Consularis

  • Consularis

In general I am very reluctant to accept that there is no word for X in Latin. If there has been none up to now, and we need one, we here should make one up!

But that does not seem necessary for the things-- and I use the plural advisedly-- that we call "tubas" in English. I quote from THe Oxford DIctionary of Music, 2nd Edition (1964):

"It is impossible to define "Tuba", the word apparently being indifferently applied to any sort of brass instrument other than the trombone. Moreover, the names of the different individual instruments coming under this very general description vary in different countries and even within the limits of any one country".

The thing generally carried in American school-bands is properly a Sousaphone, and I see no reason why we should not call it a sousaphonium, -i (n). It might be best to reserve plain tuba, in Latin, for the ancient military instrument. The modern "Wagner tubas" might be bucinae Wagneris, and the lower saxhorns and flugelhorns might be saxbucinae graves et flugelbucinae graves. A euphonium is Latin already, we just call it neuter of the second. A bombardon or a helicon similarly, we may well call bomardon, -i (n) or helicon, -i (n). Certain Italian "tubas" have already near-Latin names, and we can just adjust:

flicorno: flicornu, -us (n)
flicorno basso: flicornu bassum
flicorno basso grave: flicornu bassum grave
flicorno contrabasso: flicornu contrabassum.

Bassus is not a classical word, as far as I know, but it's meanings in Niermeyer include "low" (with a citation from 1116).
 

kmp

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

Iynx dixit:
In general I am very reluctant to accept that there is no word for X in Latin. If there has been none up to now, and we need one, we here should make one up!
I love your attitude, lynx, but it raises some questions that I'd like to ask the people here about contemporary Latin.

Is there some generally-used glossary for modern terms?

I found these sites :

http://users.adelphia.net/~florusc/neo-lexicon.htm

and this one:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/insti ... on_it.html

and this one

http://alpha.furman.edu/~dmorgan/

If I were to use words from these sites, would everyone here understand them?

And what about proper names? Are they to be treated as indeclinable? Isn't this the best strategy for terms like Punk Rock or Heavy Metal - the sort of thing people ask about for tatoos? I certainly don't think we should get hung up over whether the Latin word is "classical" or not. As lynx says - make one up.

I know one thng - I hate it when circumlocutions are used to describe modern terms. You know what I mean - saying "large machine for removing earth" for bulldozer. It makes Latin sound terribly clunky and inelegant.

But if I were to say chamulcus automatarius - would anyone here understand it? Would I understand it myself? Well, no, I wouldn't - since chamulcus isn't even in my dictionary and I've no idea what it means.

I think if the rules for writing contemporary Latin were clearer then even a dullard like me might be encouraged to have a go.
 

Cato

Consularis

  • Consularis

kmp dixit:
If I were to use words from these sites (modern Latin dictionaries), would everyone here understand them?
I took a quick look at those dictionaries, and in general I see no issue using them as a guide, but I don't consider them authoritative in the same way I consider the OLD or L&S authoritative (not even the Vatican site).

There are some excellent suggestions there, and certainly cannot say that they're wrong (I, for one, would eventually understand all of them if used in a sentence; I mean, how tough is it to deduce what the word acupunctura, -ae refers to?). But I believe some tribute has to be given to the speculation of what an ancient Roman would call something he hadn't recognized before. That's a guessing game, I know, but when I see an on-line dictionary coin a word like abstractio, -onis for "abstraction", I respond by saying a Roman would naturally cast such a thing as "abstraction" in judicial terms, and so might use the word notio, -onis. Again, either word is OK, but I prefer the latter.
And what about proper names? Are they to be treated as indeclinable? Isn't this the best strategy for terms like Punk Rock or Heavy Metal - the sort of thing people ask about for tatoos? I certainly don't think we should get hung up over whether the Latin word is "classical" or not. As lynx says - make one up.
For "Heavy Metal", I'm not sure I see a problem with a term like Metallum Grave; it's a metaphorical term in English, so I would translate it "word-for-word".

But in other cases I find a little thought about the origin of the term in English can lead to a Latin possibility. "Rock" (the musical form) finds its roots in "Rock n Roll", a slang term for sex. Thus, translating this as petra or saxum would be completely wrong; I'd instead coin a word like urgentum, since urgeo is used in a veiled sexual sense by Latin poets (e.g. Horace Odes I.V.1). "Punk rock" in particular I'd translate formally as musica urgenta fascinorum or just musica fascinorum.

At some point, it is more sensible to simply transfer the English term phonetically, but I'm not sold on assuming they're indeclinable. The complany name "Xerox" would naturally fit as a third declension noun Xerox, -ocis based on similar-form words.
I know one thng - I hate it when circumlocutions are used to describe modern terms. You know what I mean - saying "large machine for removing earth" for bulldozer. It makes Latin sound terribly clunky and inelegant.
I agree; magna machina ad humum submoviendum is a ridiculous solution. Bulldozer, -eris might be the best we can do; I'd even accept making this indeclinable.
I think if the rules for writing contemporary Latin were clearer then even a dullard like me might be encouraged to have a go.
Though I think it dates to the turn of the last century, Bradley's Arnold is IMO still the essential standard. Every serious student should have a copy; even if he/she isn't interested in writing Latin, the exercise of looking at Latin from the "other side" will greatly reinforce vocab., grammar, and syntax. It's well worth finding a copy of this book; it has many useful suggestions on writing contemporary Latin--even a few tips on translating modern vocabulary--and is an all-around excellent resource for composition.
 

kmp

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

Thanks, Cato - illuminating as ever.

I think I'll invest in a copy of Bradley's Arnold as you suggest.

It's interesting that you clearly feel one should decline proper names (you give Xerox as an example) if at all possible.

To me, there always seems something forced about declining proper (non-Latin) names - even if their morphology goes easily into Latin. For example, there's a big supermarket here called Asda. The name would work fine as a 1st declension female noun. Saying "Asda magna est" sounds OK to me, but "vado ad Asdam" seems strange. i suppose I'm just not thinking like a Roman. I must do better - think like a Roman, Ken, think like a Roman,

By the way, would you make Asda female? It could work like agricola or poeta and be masculine. Is there a rule which says what gender these things should be when they come across into Latin? (I suppose you could make it 2nd declension neuter plural as an alternative).
 

Marius Magnus

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

Cato dixit:
I agree; magna machina ad humum submoviendum is a ridiculous solution. Bulldozer, -eris might be the best we can do; I'd even accept making this indeclinable.
Can't say I agree with that one. Certainly you could make a compound in Latin for "dirt-pusher" or somesuch. How did Latin form compound words? Spanish has an interesting method, but I don't know if it extends back to Roman times:

paraguas - "umbrella" (lit. "for waters")
parasol - "for sun"
sacapuntas - "pencil sharpener" (lit. "it takes out points")
lavaplatos - "dishwasher" (lit. "it washes plates")
etc.

I would think at the very least you would want to re-spell it as the Romans would have: buldoser

Apparently the word comes from "bulldose", i.e. "a dose fit for a bull", which meant a severe beating. You might get away with translating the etymological parts of the word, or using something similar, or even calling it by some other animal's name that is known for burrowing.
 

Cato

Consularis

  • Consularis

Marius Magnus dixit:
Apparently the word comes from "bulldose", i.e. "a dose fit for a bull", which meant a severe beating. You might get away with translating the etymological parts of the word, or using something similar, or even calling it by some other animal's name that is known for burrowing.
These are excellent suggestions; I perhaps shouldn't have given up so easily on "bulldozer". I think, ultimately, that's the point; give the word a little thought--review it's use, etymology, and the like--and see if we can come up with a more creative equivalent.
kmp dixit:
By the way, would you make Asda female? It could work like agricola or poeta and be masculine. Is there a rule which says what gender these things should be when they come across into Latin? (I suppose you could make it 2nd declension neuter plural as an alternative).
I'd keep it feminine; unless there's a compelling reason to think the noun is male or is associated exclusively with males, the gender (IMO) should match the dominant gender of nouns that have a similar form (I assume all sexes are welcome at Asda). Thus I'd make Xerox feminine as well (though there are exceptions like murex, nouns in -x are dominantly feminine unless they refer to a person, e.g. rex).
 

kmp

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

Marius Magnus dixit:
How did Latin form compound words? Spanish has an interesting method, but I don't know if it extends back to Roman times:
I think living Latin was probably good at forming compound words. If Latin were still spoken natively I'm sure it would natually come up with compounds for words like washing machine or bullldozer.

It's only because we see Latin in a frozen state as a "dead" language that we underestimate this.

(Any browse through a Latin dictionary will show you what I mean - ferricrepinus, fatidicus, fatiloqua, lucrifuga etc)
 

kmp

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

Cato dixit:
I'd keep it feminine; unless there's a compelling reason to think the noun is male or is associated exclusively with males, the gender (IMO) should match the dominant gender of nouns that have a similar form (I assume all sexes are welcome at Asda). Thus I'd make Xerox feminine as well (though there are exceptions like murex, nouns in -x are dominantly feminine unless they refer to a person, e.g. rex).
Right then - it's Asda, Asda, Asdam, Asdae, Asdae, Asda :)
 

Manus Correctrix

QVAE CORRIGIT

  • Civis Illustris

Re:

Marius Magnus dixit:
paraguas - "umbrella" (lit. "for waters")
parasol - "for sun"
That’s not what they mean!!
 

Querulus

New Member

Late to the party.

With respect to declining proper names, I doubt Vercingetorix declined his own name as a Latin third-declension (or even spelled it with Latin characters). Classical Latin liberally treats foreign words as Latin if it's pretty clear how to do it. Compare modern French, which does the same thing. Or English, for that matter.

(On the other hand, Hieronymus treats Hebrew names as indeclinable in his Bible. So there's precedent there, too.)

I am generally opposed to treating words as indeclinables if it can be helped because it assumes everyone knows the word in your original language. Dropping an English word in the middle of a Latin sentence makes sense to English-speaking classicists, but rather the point of using Latin, even during the imperial age, is/was to make your writing equally understandable across cultural barriers. For that reason, I find it preferable to attempt to find some solution within Latin itself. (I once confused a Russian classicist by dropping the Greek “lampa” in a sentence, though the Russian equivalent is phonetically similar.)

That said, we do live in the age of Google Translate which, though it makes a comedic hash of Latin in general, is still pretty good for looking up simple words and phrases in modern languages. So if no universally understandable solution can be found within Latin itself, dropping an indeclinable from your native tongue is probably preferable to some lengthy circumlocution.

I'd write “cacatium” before I'd write “machina quo stercus aquā turbatā ablatus potest.”
 

Nikolaos

schmikolaos

  • Censor

Can't say I agree with that one. Certainly you could make a compound in Latin for "dirt-pusher" or somesuch. How did Latin form compound words? Spanish has an interesting method, but I don't know if it extends back to Roman times
In general, Latin and Romance don't like compounds, especially Latin. Some true compounds exist, in which only the final component is declined, but not many.

While it's right to be skeptical about importing words directly, I would like to point out that several languages do just that. Out of the twenty-one languages into which "bulldozer" is translated on Wiktionary, fourteen of them include or solely consist of a transliteration of the English word with minimal modification.
 

Querulus

New Member

(Ha! Hopefully I'd proof-read better before I wrote that at all. Meant “ablatus” not “auferre.” How do you edit posts?)
 

Nikolaos

schmikolaos

  • Censor

(Ha! Hopefully I'd proof-read better before I wrote that at all. Meant “ablatus” not “auferre.” How do you edit posts?)
I'll get it for you. You get the ability to edit after publishing 25 posts - this is to combat a few issues that we've faced in times past.
 
Top