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Declension of Proper Names

by Konrad
(Brazil)

Carissime magister clarissimeque,


How can I decline proper names? Roman names are pretty easy, I suppose ("Salve, Valeri Martialis", etc), but how about names coming from other languages, from the greek mythology and modern names? How can I decline things like Daphne, Socrates, Konrad, Muiraquitã and John?

Sum gratus!


Dear Konrad,

The declension of proper names can be divided into four categories. First, there are those that decline in the basic Latin patterns of the first three declensions. Second, there are foreign names, especially Greek, that are Latinized to fit into one of the basic declensions. Third, there are names left in their original Greek declension. Last, some names are indeclinable.

As for the examples you give, Daphne and Socrates would be left in the original Greek declensions, John would be Latinized to Johannes (3rd declension), Muiraquitã would be Latinized to the first declension, and Konrad might be indeclinable or Latinized to Konradus.

Here are some basic patterns found at the online Allen and Greenough at Tufts University. It's not a perfect reference for obscure names, but it does help make sense of the more common names in literature.

First Declension Greek Names

Second Declension Greek Names

Third Declension Greek Names

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking a Latin teacher!

Sincerely,

John

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