Monday, December 6, 2010

Verbum Hodiernum: CUM

Today's word is CUM. This word is commonly used as a preposition in Latin, meaning "together with," and it takes the ablative case. Importantly, the word is also used as a temporal conjunction, meaning "at the same time (with)" or, more simply, "when."

Historically, the words do come from different origins. The conjunction is related to the relative pronoun qui and was originally spelled quom. Over time, however, the words became viewed as essentially the same, and the spelling cum was standard both for the preposition and for the conjunction. Later, in Latin books printed in the Renaissance and early modern period, you will see a new distinction between these two uses, with the preposition cum being written cum, and the conjunction being written quum; the spelling quum is not classical.

Meanwhile, the spelling of the preposition in older Latin was com, and you can still see that spelling some verbal compounds (like verb componere, which gives us the English word "compound" in fact!). You can also see that when used as a verbal prefix, it undergoes other changes. Before -r it assimilates (corrodo), and also before -l (colligo), and it becomes con- before other consonants (conduco). Before -n you can sometimes see it spelled con- (connecto) and sometimes just co- (conecto). Before vowels and before -h, it is spelled simply as co- (coambulo).

One important thing to remember about the preposition that it means not just "with" but "together with," in the sense of accompaniment. In English, we use the preposition "with" to express the way we do something with the help of an instrument: "The soldier kills them with a sword." In Latin, that sense of instrumental usage is expressed by the ablative case on its own: Miles eos gladio interficit.

Note also the anastrophe with personal pronouns: mecum, tecum, vobiscum, etc.

Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs; for more information, see the page at the Scala Sapientiae, which contains notes on some of the proverbs cited below, as well as additional proverbs:

Omnia mea mecum sunt.

Erat manus Domini cum eis.

Cum dixeris quod vis, audies quod non vis.

Omnia bona mecum sunt.

Aliter cum aliis agendum.

Aliter enim cum alio agendum.

Quid verba audiam, cum facta videam?

Non possum tecum vivere, nec sine te.

Solet sequi laus, cum viam fecit labor.

Cum sol oritur, omnibus oritur.

Cum finis est licitus, etiam media sunt licita.

Tunc scimus, cum causas cognoscimus.

Bene vixit is, qui potuit, cum voluit, mori.

Qui non est mecum, contra me est.

Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos?

Quidquid fit cum virtute, fit cum gloria.

Cum Deo quisque gaudet et flet.

Gaudendum cum ceteri gaudent.

Mecum facile redeo in gratiam.

Doctus cum libro.

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