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From Augustine's Confessions, Book 1, Section 8

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Latin with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Latin Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Latin language and its speakers' culture.

from Augustine's Confessions, Book 1, Section 8

Non enim eram infans, qui non farer, sed iam puer loquens eram. Et memini hoc, et unde loqui didiceram, post adverti. Non enim docebant me maiores homines, praebentes mihi verba certo aliquo ordine doctrinae sicut paulo post litteras. Sed ego ipse mente, quem dedisti mihi, deus meus, cum gemitibus et vocibus variis et variis membrorum motibus edere vellem sensa cordis mei, ut voluntati pareretur. Nec valerem quae volebam omnia nec quibus volebam omnibus. Pensabam memoria. Cum ipsi appellabant rem aliquam et cum secundum eam vocem corpus ad aliquid movebant, videbam et tenebam hoc ab eis vocari rem illam, quod sonabant, cum eam vellent ostendere. Hoc autem eos velle, ex motu corporis aperiebatur, tamquam verbis naturalibus omnium gentium. Quae fiunt vultu et nutu oculorum ceterorumque membrorum actu et sonitu vocis indicante affectionem animi in petendis, habendis, reiciendis fugiendisve rebus. Ita verba in variis sententiis locis suis posita et crebro audita quarum rerum signa essent paulatim colligebam. Edomito in eis signis ore, per haec enuntiabam. Sic cum his, inter quos eram, voluntatum enuntiandarum signa communicavi.


For I was no longer an infant that could not speak, but was already a speaking boy. And I remember this well and later noted how I first learned to speak. The older people did not teach me by providing words to me in a certain given order of instruction, as they did the letters later. But by the mind that Thou, my God, gave me, I on my own with grunts, varieties of voices and various motions of my body tried to express the ideas of my heart, that were in accordance with my desires. But I neither could express everything I wanted to, nor with all the expressions I wanted. Then I pondered when remembering. When they designated a thing, and when after that they moved their body toward something, I observed it and understood that this was the thing named by them in that they pronounced it when they wanted to point it out. And that they meant this or that thing was discovered by me through the motion of their body, as by the natural words (language) of all peoples. These are made by facial expression and by the cast of the eyes, by the acts of other members, and by the sound of the voice indicating the feelings of the mind, whether in desiring, enjoying, rejecting or avoiding anything. And in this way I gradually collected the words in various sentences that were put in their proper places and often heard for the things of which they were the signs. And when my mouth was conquered for these signs, I expressed my wishes by means of them. In this way, I communicated with those with whom I was, the signs of the desires I wished to express.

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