Monday, August 22, 2016

Learning Latin with the Liturgy: the Traditional Table Prayer in Latin

The Latin original of the traditional Catholic table prayer is an excellent tool for teaching some important grammatical points. Here is the text, with English version:

Benedic, Domine, nos et haec tua dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 
 Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive through thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Before a full grammatical breakdown, the following points are worth drawing special attention to.

The compound verb benedicere (to bless [literally, to speak well]) follows the paradigm of the verb dicere, including, as seen in the prayer, the irregular imperative. Remember, dic, duc, fac, fer, ought to be an 'e' but it isn't there. Maledicere (literally, to speak badly) means to curse.

The Future Active Participle is common enough that it is well worth knowing. The most famous example is found in the words "Have, Imperator, morituri te salutant" (Hail, Caesar, those about to die salute you; Suetonius Divus Claudius 21.6). The appearance of it in a table prayer, presumably composed in the Medieval Period, is a testimony to the Latinity of that era.

Here is my video version with (ecclesiastical) pronunciation:



Here's how the Latin works:

Latin
English
Parsing
Grammar Points
Benedic
Bless
sing. imper.
benedico, benedicere, benedixi, benedictus
Domine
O Lord
voc. sing. masc. noun
Dominus, Domini
nos
us
acc. pl. pronoun
nos, nostri
et
and
conj.
haec
these
acc. pl. neut. dem. adj.
hic, haec, hoc; modifies dona
tua
thy
acc. pl. neut. poss. adj.
tuus, tua, tuum; modifies dona
dona
gifts
acc. pl. neut. noun
donum, doni
quae
which
acc. pl. neut. rel. pronoun
qui, quae, quod
de
out of
Prep.+Abl.
tua
your
abl. sing. fem. poss. adj.
tuus, tua, tuum; modifies largitate
largitate
bounty
abl. sing. fem. noun
largitas, largitatis
sumus
we are
1st pers. pl. pres. ind. verb
sum, esse, fui
sumpturi
about to receive
nom. pl. masc. fut. act. part.
sūmō, sūmere, sūmpsī, sūmptus
Per
Through
Prep.+Acc.
Christum
Christ
acc. sing. masc. noun
Christus, Christi
Dominum
Lord
acc. sing. masc. noun
Dominus, Domini
nostrum
our
acc. sing. masc. poss. adj.
noster, nostra, nostrum; modifies Christum and Dominum
 


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