skadi_zlata (skadi_zlata) wrote in little_details,

A way to address a man in medieval Latin

How would two medieval men address to each other and speak of each other if they communicated in Latin? One of them is older, but both are of the same rank, not too high. Is there a common form of address, like "master" or "sir", only in Latin?
Is the term "magister" only used to address a very learned man?
Tags: ~languages: latin
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The most common forms of address in twelfth-century letters, as broken down by Julian P. Hasedine:

1. familial or domestic terms: pater (father), frater (brother), filius (son), dominus (lord and master)

2. terms of respect: piisimus (most pious), venerandus or venerabilis (venerable), sanctissimus (holiest), reverendissimus (most reverend) [The writers and recipients of these particular letters were monks, so this category is probably not the most relevant to you.]

3. possessive terms: meus (mine, or my own one), or the 3rd person suus (his [i.e. the writer's] own)

4. affectionate terms: carissimus (dearest), dilectus (beloved), amicus (friend)


Depending on the degree of familiarity and affection between your characters, I would choose between pater/filius (older/younger respectively), dominus, or amicus. Latin is an inflected language, so if you want to use any word in conversation (direct address, as in, "Hello, friend"), you have to put it in the vocative case. Here are the endings:

Hello, father: salve, pater

Hello, son: salve, filii

Hello, sir: salve, domine

Hello, friend: salve, amice
Thank you so much!


January 16 2017, 05:03:30 UTC 1 month ago

A modification:

By the Middle Ages, "dominus" still means "lord" or "master", but it can also be used more causally as "boss".

and an addition:

"Socius", which can mean "ally", but also "comrade" or "fellow" (as in "jolly good fellow").

As always, context is beyond critical.

From what I remember of GCSE Latin the term would be "dominus" - master. For a lady it would be "domina". Both basically indicate that they are the head of their household, so anyone from a slave to child being respectful, to an adult in a formal setting might use it, if I'm recalling rightly.

Magister means "teacher" as I recall, and would only really be used in such a context, where one was another's teacher. It might be the root of our "magistrate" but its a different meaning.
Thank you!
GCSE is not very helpful here as Medieval Latin is a very different beast. I found ALevel less helpful than I had hoped; Italian was often more relevant.
Fair, and I am out of practice. But I'm pretty sure that if you want the Latin for "master" you want dominus. Simply on like. A dictionary level. No idea for the grammar, I could never get it to stick, but single words, I am pretty decent at remembering.
You're probably right, though if I hadn't come across it in university contexts*, I wouldn't have bet on it - by the Middle Ages the usual word for "house" was no longer "domus" but "casa" and "sic" and "non" had come into use for "yes" and "no"

*Specifically, when I got my Masters degree, I was addressed as "Domina".
Aah, that makes sense. We had a bit of a poke at Latin inscriptions when I was at uni (archaeology) and I've looked into some older texts to try to piece apart what they were saying. Dominus is one of those word-forms that rly stuck out to me, because of how we've adapted it into modern language.
Dominus in medieval Latin was the standard term for 'lord'. Mi domine = 'my lord'. Used both for when addressing God and addressing your feudal superior.
Huh that's cool. Didn't know that. Thank you.
Would it be possible to use the word dominus with a name? Or was it always used separately?
I'm not sure. The only personal name I've ever seen the word used in conjunction with is 'Jesus', when someone is praying or singing a hymn. ('Domine Iesu, dimitte nobis debita nostra' = 'Lord Jesus, forgive us our sins').

Another common usage was domin(us/e) rex, 'Lord King', referring to the king in his role as feudal superior.
Otherwise, I'm only familiar with it being used separately. Late Roman Emperors were addressed as 'domine' by their subjects, for example.
Thank you!
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