Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Verbum Hodiernum: SUM

Today's word is SUM, the famously irregular verb (esse, fui). We shouldn't be surprised that this verb is irregular in Latin, of course, since the English verb to be is also formed from different root systems: "is," "was," "been."

A great source of confusion in Latin is the similarity between the verb esse, "to be," and esse, "to eat." Although some of the forms are easy to distinguish, such as sum, "I am" and edo, "I eat," other forms are harder to distinguish, such as est, "is" and ēst, "eats," which differ only in the quantity of the vowel. In order to avoid this confusion, the verb comedo was widely used to mean "eat," instead of the uncompounded edo.

There are some words in English that are derived from the esse root of today's verb, such as "essential" and "essence." There are also English words derived from compound forms of this verb, such as "absent," "present," etc. From the f- stem, which gives both Latin fui and futurus, we get English "future." We actually use the Latin verb form interest in English, "interest."

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:

Esto quod esse videris.

Omnia mea mecum sunt.

Non possunt primi esse omnes omni in tempore.

Primus sum egomet mihi.

Quod vis videri, esto.

Omnes terra sumus.

Omnia bona mecum sunt.

Bono animo esto.

Sunt quidam non re, sed nomine homines.

Ego meorum solus sum meus.

Ubi sunt?

Ut ameris, amabilis esto.

Sumus quod semper facimus.

Non semper ea sunt quae videntur.

Omnes quae sua sunt, quaerunt.

Forti animo esto.

Homines sunt eiusdem generis.

Plures sunt res quam verba.

Mecum mea sunt cuncta.

Cuncti gens una sumus.


platol said...

Note the German 'essen'
ich esse
du isst
du ißt
er/sie/es isst
er/sie/es ißt
wir essen
ihr esst
ihr eßt
sie/Sie essen
Evidence of a Latin heritage in a Germanic language? From Tacitus's Germania?

Laura Gibbs said...

I think it is probably no mistake that some of the most deeply rooted and widely shared Indo-European roots are EAT...IS... ME. Even if it is not literally true that "I am what I eat," the core words are shared by all the I-E languages. :-)