Vocative in English

Latin: R. Gloria tibi Domine!

Old text = People: Glory to you, Lord.

New translation = People: Glory to you, O Lord.

The Latin is clearly vocative. Some languages has vocative others don’t. I may be wrong, but my understanding is that the English has no declinations of the noun at all (except may be the possessive 's and plural s), so it does not has vocative either.

May question is:

  • when the English feels necessary to represent the vocative by nominative and the O prefix , so why not like at Shakespeare: Et tu Brute = And thou, Brutus

As for curiosity the Hungarian has no ending for vocative, but in the Bible and Ecclesiastical text the vocative is represented by adding an ending with the meaning of my Lord or our Lord, if there is no adjetcive before the person, so almost always the equivalent of Almighty God, instead of our/my Almighty God.

Are you saying you prefer “older” language for the translation?

Such that you would prefer “Glory to Thee, O Lord” rather than the modern “you”?

Also both translations you gave are correct. There is no set convention in english about how to translate the vocative case.

Br. Paul

I learned English when I was 40 years old, I do not feel the taste of any English world, for me thee of you are equal, except when the singular or plural had to be distinguished.

I wonder why the new translation changed the ‘Lord’ to ‘O Lord’ , if both equally represents vocative in context; or for that reason why pre Vatican translations used ‘O Lord’ instead of Lord?

I’m not sure what the question is, but that’s not a correct quotation from Julius Caesar. Shakespeare has “Et tu, Brute?— Then fall, Caesar!” (III.i), with the Latin intact. As far as I know, Shakespeare has vocatives both with and without “O”, e.g. cf. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” (Julius Caesar III.ii), “O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?” (Hamlet I.v.).

Ah, just saw this. My guess would be that the “O” was added back not only to make clear that this is a vocative, but especially to provide an unaccented syllable between to accented ones. To be honest (I checked, and you’re right) it was news to me that we don’t currently say “O Lord”! As far as I know, I and everyone else I’ve listened to has always inserted the “O”; maybe others’ experience is different.

By way of contrast, take the “Laus tibi, Domine” after the Gospel, which currently is and will remain translated “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” Since the word Domine is the same, one can only suppose that the decision was made to keep the rhythm of “Práise to yóu, Lord Jésus Chríst,” rather than something awkward like “Práise to yóu, O Lórd Jesus Chríst” or (absit) “Práise to you, Ó Lord Jésus Chríst.”

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