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What is "faciebat"?


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If I remember my high school (and college) Latin, faciebat is the third-person singular Imperfect indicative form of the verb to do or to make. Since it is third-person singular it can be translated as masculine, feminine or neuter (it) depending on the gender of the accompnaying noun. In the case of the traditional Strad copy label, the accompanying noun is Antonio Stradivari, which is masculine.

The Imperfect indicative form of a verb is translated as a past action that was repeated or continual. This doesn't translate well into single, one-word English translations. In simple English the traditional Strad copy label would translate as Antonio Stradivari made this in the year ????, That is the same English translation that you would use for the simple past tense (actually the Perfect tense, fecit), it does, however, include the meaning that the making went on over a period of time or that Stradivari was in an on-going business of making violins. On a Latin final exam I would probably translate it as Antonio Stradivari was making this in the year ????.

Ok, one of you who is closer to your school days than I, point out how much I have forgotten. smile.gif


Norman, OK


Originally posted by Michael Darnton:

It's not Italian, it's Latin. I believe the literal translation of that single word is "he has made. . ."

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A more precise translation of FACIEBAT would be ‘He/she was making [it]’ or ‘was in the process of making’; the ‘imperfect’ verb-form, mentioned by Elaine, indicates a process that was still going on at the time when the statement was made. Logical when you think of it; the violin must still have been in pieces when the label was written, and so the making process was not yet complete.

The distinction between FACIEBAT and FECIT is that the latter implies a completed process and would be translated simply as ‘made’ or ‘has made’.

[This message has been edited by Oliver Mundy (edited 08-08-2000).]

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I think some contemporary makers use the "fecit" form, so that would certainly imply that it is the form for what was done by them, rather than done by someone else. Therefore one would infer that "faciebat" would refer to what someone else had done and was now being used to copy, or re-do.

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No, in the violin world no label means anything at all--what's important is what the violin is, not what the label says it is. Original Stradivari labels would have used this wording, as would all the copies that have copies of the original label inserted in them.


Originally posted by sh142:

Hi! Michael and Elain, thanks for your reply.

So, if I understand it correctly, whenever I see the word "faciebat" that means a copy.. am I right?

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  • 19 years later...
On 8/7/2000 at 10:54 PM, Elaine said:

If I remember my high school (and college) Latin...........


IMHO you do.  Great post.  :)

Given that Stradivari had more than a smidgen of marketing savvy, I'm very tempted to freely render the Strad label as an advertisement:  "Tony Strad is Making [Violins] in Cremona!!".  Nowadays, he'd have included a phone number or a URL (probably both).  :ph34r:   :lol:

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13 hours ago, BlueSquare23 said:

It is called a Plinian signature. 


Yes, a common usage in the letters of Pliny (and of Cicero and others).  Sometimes called an "epistolary" imperfect, it reports in the imperfect what was happening in the present as the writer wrote.  The tense then is that of the reading, not the writing.  So:  (Builder) was building at Cremona in (year).

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  • 3 weeks later...

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