So, here we are– the first day of my return engagement; Latin, that foul cluster of beasts shall be slain; that glorious violence, though, is not why I am here– I am here to collect samples for my university and conduct horrific experimentation on the remains eventually building Frankenstein-esque abominations out of the corpses to be used in war! To help in that is me offering you some basic training to assist in chopping-up the monster (yes, you will be helping me, so buckle up… and stop crying!).
So, the first thing you should know about the Latin Beasts is that it comes in many forms. This will make hunting the correct beast harder but I have learned from nearby travelers that there are certain tell-tale signs which betray its appearance. The travelers I met referred to these signs as Personal Endings.
These “Personal Endings” appeared to be small markings, letters to use a language oriented metaphor, which was attached to a certain part of the beast’s body, or word, to keep up with the linguistic metaphor. Markings like these tell hunters what kind of Latinate Beast they are dealing with and whether it is in what they call 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Person species.
Beast in these persons will appear slightly different depending on their markings, but it is the same breed, the same word, just now it has been modified some.
In my own monster manual, Wheelock’s Latinate Beast Hunter’s Manual, we see a chart much like the following:
You will notice, my eventual helper, that the species, the Person, is on the left-hand side while the characteristics of the breed (the word), the Personal Endings, are on the right-hand side. You will also notice that the Personal Endings change a bit if the beast is by itself or with its family, this seems to be the Singular vs. Plural divide.
But, this must seem all very academic to you, my assistant in training (who for reasons unknown I must now keep chained to my desk since you keep on trying to run away). So, allow me to explain this with a concrete example.
You, of course, know that one such beast Servāre is in the old tongue a beast defined for its ability “to preserve, keep, safeguard, save”. But, this beast belongs to a genus which has several different mutations, or Tense. If we are to understand this beast in its entirety, then we must understand what these mutations (Tense) are all about.
My monster manual– Wheelock’s Latinate Beast Hunter’s Manual— lists for different genus for this monster. They are as follows: servō, servāre, servāvi, servātum.
Only the first two entries concern us at the moment. These initial genera indicate tense: First-Person “I” and then the so-called Infinitive Form (“We”). It is by examining this Infinitive Form and removing a small portion of the monster’s skin, by how we will understand those letter characteristics of the breed (the Personal Endings of the word).
To scalp, a breed of monster, simply slice off that disfiguring “-re” appendage on the second listing. What you are left with is what hunters call the Stem. This is the base of the beast and is what allows us to conduct our experiments.
So, let’s say that we wanted to forge a specific species (Person (not a literal person, remember!)) out of that stem, how would we do it? That is right, we would screw in our own letters or Personal Ending (we have plenty of these breed characteristics stored in our lab). It is a grizzly procedure but it looks something like this when done.
Person Ending Conjugation
1st “I” -o servāo
2nd “you” -s servās
3rd “s/he, it” -t servāt
1st “we” -mus servāmus
2nd “y’all” -tis servātis
3rd “they” -nt servānt
This monstrous creation is what the hunters call Conjugation. Technically speaking, there are two conjugations to be concerned about at the moment– First and Second.
Conjugation literally means “to join together”. But before we do that “joining together” we must pay careful attention to the beast’s grey matter within its Stem. If the Stem has a weird bone in the shape of an “-a” at the end, then we would be smart to form a monster following the conventions of 1st Conjugation, if it has something in the shape of an “-e” at the base of the stem, then it is 2nd Conjugation.
The beast above used as an example, since it has the “-a” shaped bone, is the 1st Conjugation. But if after scalping the beast the ending bone looks like an “-e” then it would be the 2nd Conjugation.
Sometimes, when we do our Conjugations, we want to form a specific beast for a client, a beast which is compliant and orderly; when we do this, we keep away any and all Personal Endings and simply leave the Stem as it; this is what we call the Imperative Mood. It is called “imperative” because we are creating a beast which follows our orders; if we wanted to dissect this beast in full and create from its ragged remains several heads– as some collectors value– then we could attach a “-te” ending characteristic to the Stem, thus encouraging the beast to grow several heads or even split into several smaller beasts. The magic of the “-te” ending is that we are now ordering multiple beasts around instead of just the one; and that, dear assistant, is why I love my job.
*glances at the clock* ..goodness, just look at the time, I must get back to the lab and work on a client’s order; come now, assistant-in-training, come and help. *drags assistant into the lab*
(This is the end of the first educational post explaining Latin. Did you enjoy the elaborate “beast hunting” and “beast experimentation” metaphor? Or did you think that it was too overbearing and confusing? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments on how to improve or if I should simply switch to a normal explanation.)