October 29, 2006

Cuique suum

In English: To each his own.

This Latin is a great demonstration of the incredible economy of Latin. The English "to each his own" is four words, and Latin gets it down to just two words: cuique (to each person, dative singular of "quisque") suum (his own thing, neuter singular).

There is no stated verb, although there are all kinds of possibilities, based on the context in which the proverb is used. Very often it means that some people prefer one thing, while other people prefer something else: "to each his own." In this context, the implied Latin verb would probably be placet cuique suum, "to each his own is pleasing."

Another context in which this saying is often used has to do with every person getting what they deserve. The idea is that Fortune, God, Justice, Karma (or the cosmic mechanism of your choice) gives to each person the thing that this person deserves. In this context, the implied Latin verb would probably be datur cuique suum, "to each his own is given."

I know that most Latin students experience Latin pronouns like cuique as a kind of endless torture. Yet getting to know and enjoy the Latin pronouns makes reading Latin a real pleasure. Translating the pronouns into English is frustrating, so it's best to learn to enjoy the pronouns for their own sake, seeing how the Latin pronoun system is built up of individual "mix and match" pieces.

For example, the pronoun in today's saying is made up of "quis" (in the dative form: "cui") and "que," quisque. This same "que" suffix can be added to other pronouns: quando+que = quandoque, "whenever, at any time." Likewise ubi+que = ubique, "wherever, in any place." This is where we get the English word "ubiquitous."

And yes, pronouns are ubiquitous in Latin! They're all over the place, and it's good to get to know them if you want to relax and enjoy reading Latin.

So here is today's proverb read out loud - enjoy the "cuique" pronoun!

928. Cuique suum.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

If you are reading this via RSS: The Flash audio content is not syndicated via RSS; please visit the Latin Audio Proverbs blog to listen to the audio. You can also hear this saying read aloud at a Polish website: Wladyslawa Kopalinskiego Slownik wyraz?w obcych i zwrot?w obcojezycznych (weblink).
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