Monday, September 27, 2010
Verbum Hodiernum: AUTEM
Today's word is AUTEM, one of those words which is pretty much impossible to translate into English. In many ways, autem is more like a punctuation mark in Latin than it is a word you would need to translate into English.
You will only find autem in what is called "postpositive position," meaning that it cannot come first in a sentence. instead, it comes after the first word (or word-phrase), and indicates that there is something surprising coming up, something that is unexpected. It might be something that contradicts what was previously said, or it could indicate that something from the previous sentence is going to be amplified in some surprising way.
Look at this saying:
Dii autem omnia possunt.
The word autem here (in second position) indicates that the gods are different from something else - from humans! Humans cannot do everything; the gods autem can do everything. Do you see how the autem is carrying out a function very similar to the semicolon punctuation mark there in the English? It is a special kind of semicolon. You might call it the semicolon of surprise!
Here are some other examples to look at. Don't try to translate the word autem into English; it's basically impossible to do that. Instead, just try to see how the autem is being used to mark out the first word of the saying, calling special attention to it.
Spes autem non confundit.
Nihil autem mundo melius.
Bona autem admonitio amici.
Qui autem sapiens est, audit consilia.
Cultura autem animi philosophia est.
Res autem durissima vivere solum.
Factum autem stultus cognovit.
Omnis autem piger semper in egestate est.
Iustus autem ex fide sua vivet.
Gloria autem est fructus virtutis.
Super omnia autem vincit veritas.
Sapientiam autem non vincit malitia.
Ab initio autem non fuit sic.
Quid autem tentare nocebit?
Apud Deum autem omnia possibilia sunt.
Verbum autem Domini manet in aeternum.
Here you can see pairs of sentences, with autem coordinating the pairs:
Caelum stat, terra autem movetur.
Multi multa sciunt, se autem nemo.
Alii laborabant, alii autem fruebantur.
Alios potes effugere, te autem numquam.
Homo videt in facie, Deus autem in corde.