Friday, May 27, 2005


Grammar Lesson

Preston Jones reviews Tore Janson's book A Natural History of Latin. It's an excellent review, but in the middle of it is this sentence:
But if Latin died in our mouths, we'd just stop talking; or, at best, we'd be left mostly with monosyllables bequeathed to us from the Angles and Saxons—requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine.
In Latin, adjectives must agree with the nouns they modify in gender, number, and case. The noun requiem is feminine, singular, and accusative, and therefore it requires a feminine, singular, accusative adjective, aeternam (not aeternum).

I see over a thousand Google hits for the incorrect requiem aeternum, and even a few for the impossible requiem aeternem. The sentence comes from the introit of the Mass for the Dead and means "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord."

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