Talk:Anno Domini

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January 19, 2004Refreshing brilliant proseKept
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Anno Domini[edit]

It may be a good idea to let people know what 'Anno Domini' really means, which is 'Continual Dominion'; I assume it is referring to the dominion of the papacy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:14, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Agreed Domini is the genitive case of dominium, which is still in modern usage. Anno, Annum, Annual. Anno Domini. Year of Domination. This is not supposition, it is direct translation of the words. It is impossible to understand how 'year of our Lord' came from these two easily translatable words. From the actual Latin words we have, and the historical activity at that time, it is obvious this refers to Roman Rule. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:26, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

Assume as you wish. It doesn't. It means 'the year of our Lord'. (talk) 15:20, 7 August 2018 (UTC)

If that was the case, then you'd be right. Unfortunately it is not, and you, therefore, aren't. Anno, from annus, year, and Domini (from dominius, lord) mean, in nearest translation, in the year of our Lord. It has nothing to do with continual (jugis being the closest Latin equivalent)and only tangentially related to dominance, in that the root of dominion in English is related to the same root. However, the closer Latin word would be principatus.Jbower47 (talk) 18:38, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

Why does everyone put "our" into the translation? Surely a better translation is "Year of the Lord", or even "Lord's year". 07:09, 10 April 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

An abbreviation like this from Latin, being based on initial letters and thus on the stem rather than the inflectional ending, should admit of varying inflections. Specifically, I question whether the "A." in "A.D." need always be decoded or construed as "Anno" (ablative singular, "in the year") and never as "Annorum" (genitive plural, "of the years"). "Annorum Domini" would fit better with the usage of "A.D." as a modifier for "century" (which in this context would then mean "set of one hundred [of Lord's years]"). The article currently suggests that such usages as "second century A.D." were only formerly frowned upon, but it includes no remark on whether or how such disdain might be justified, or why it is passé. SirDespard (talk) 16:30, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

This, like the article, is misleading. Latin has no definite article, so the translation "in the year of the Lord" is no more precise than "in the year of our Lord". The reason for employing "our" is straightforward; it relates to chronology as understood from a Christian context. I shouldn't have to say this, but the division between A.D. and B.C. is not universal. (e.g. in ancient Greece dating was done by Olympiads; at Ancient Rome by the foundation year of the city, or the year of relevant consuls; in Islam from the time of Muhammed etc. etc.). Thus the use of "our" is perfectly acceptable, because if we are using this dating system it relates to our own culture! Shouldn't need to add this as it is "bloody obvious"; but evidently not to some. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:32, 8 October 2017 (UTC)

I've updated the translation to emphasize that the latin phrase contains no explicit articles, definite or indefinite (as Latin does not use them, except occasionally in medieval Latin, but not here). Hence "The" and "A" are interpretations (although accurate ones). This comes up in Greek as well. Think about the phrase "In the beginning was the word and the word was G-d" replacing all of the "the"s with "a"s. Also worth noting, the Latin nominative ending '-us' often turned into '-o" in medieval Latin, hence anno can still be seen as nominative instead of ablative or accusative. Iṣṭa Devatā (talk) 17:35, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

And a reference to back up the nominative interpretation of anno: latin grammarIṣṭa Devatā (talk) 17:37, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Note on placement of BC and AD[edit]

I became curious when I noticed older reference works placing "BC" before the year, but couldn't find anything about it here or in style books. It still makes perfect sense to place the era before the year, so I shrugged it off until today, when I did some digging to find out when the shift in usage occurred. I hoped that the placement might be mentioned in some edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, but couldn't find anything about it. However, I did notice that up to the 6th Edition (1823), in the article on "Chronology", which I consulted in several editions for an answer, it was "B. C. 1322", "B. C. 1740", etc. Subsequent editions place "B. C." after the year. The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, first printed in 1849, and other related works that I consult regularly in classical studies, usually places "BC" before the year.

Then I had the bright idea of consulting the Google Books ngram viewer for a statistical guide. For those unfamiliar with it, Google has digitized millions of books published between 1800 and 2000, and can be used to search for strings of letters and numbers. Ngrams are frequently used in Wikipedia and related projects to determine the frequency with which various words and phrases are used. So I searched for these combinations: 50 BC, 50 B.C., 50 B. C., BC 50, B.C. 50, and B. C. 50, and got this ngram, showing that until about 1880, "BC" and its variations were usually placed before the year, and since 1880 usually after, although before remained somewhat common until 1915–1920. I chose "50" as a year likely to appear in a lot of published works, due to its association with Caesar. Performing a similar search for AD 14 (the death of Augustus), I found that AD has been placed after the year fairly commonly throughout the entire period, although always less commonly than before the year.

What I'm not sure about is how precisely to cite this information, which I put in a footnote, since the article is already full of parentheses and digressions. I was about to say that perhaps it wasn't likely to be challenged, since it mentions familiar reference works and can easily be checked just by looking in old books (and it doesn't really matter which ones). However, my note was reverted before I could finish writing this! So I suppose I could use some help tracking down something to cite—assuming merely indicating some sources that say something a particular way isn't good enough. P Aculeius (talk) 22:50, 16 February 2018 (UTC)

I have two issues with this change.
  1. Without seeing images of the sources in question, we don't know if the dates were in running text or tables. We know that tables often arrange things in ways that would be considered unacceptable in running text, and I believe this article is discussing, by implication, running text. Also, nowadays we take it pretty much for granted that a good publication will enforce a uniform style throughout, but I have no idea if that was the case in the 19th century. Perhaps if other articles in the same publications were examined, the result would have been different.
  2. No cited modern source has noted this change, so it may not be important enough to mention in this article. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:01, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
The second point is easily dealt with; if usage has changed over time, and readers might encounter different practices, it makes sense to note them so that they won't be confused and assume a mistake. Certainly a statement that asserts that "BC" can only come after the year needs to be qualified if just a hundred years ago either position was perfectly acceptable—just as the fact that "AD" is often placed after the year and has been for a very long time, even though before has always been preferred.
The Encyclopædia Britannica, 6th Edition, avoids "B. C." entirely in many articles where you might expect it, writing out "before Christ" in most instances (I noticed "after Christ" in a chronological table), among other expressions; Roman articles often refer to "the year of the city" or similar phrases. In the few instances it does occur, it is found both before and after the year in running text: for instance, "Amasis, king of Egypt, ascended the throne B. C. 569, and commenced his reign with the death of his former master Apries", but "Makeda having established these laws in such a manner as not to be revocable, died in the year 986 B. C."
Within articles the usage is often consistent, presumably because each author used his or her preferred convention, and the editors considered both acceptable. "Argeia", for example, uses "B. C." seven times in running text, all preceding the year; "Antigonus I" and "Antigonus Gonatus", on the same page do it three out of three times. "B. C." comes before the date three times in "Assyria".
On the other hand, in "Astronomy" we find "Eratosthenes, born at Cyrene in 271 B. C. determined the measure of a great circle of the earth by means of a gnomon." Under "Baleares Insulae" we have "they were subdued by Quintus Metellus, thence surnamed Balearicus, in the year 120 B. C.", and "Battering-Ram", "it is said to have been invented by Artemanes of Clazomene, a Greek architect who flourished 441 B. C."
Some authors used both interchangeably; "Aristides" has, "Aristides was present at the battle of Marathon, fought B. C. 490, and was next in command among the Athenians to Miltiades", and later "This great man died about 407 years B. C. according to some at Athens, at an advanced age;" although in the second instance it seems to have more to do with how the sentence was phrased. The original example I cited, under "Chronology" was, "Reckoning backward therefore from this time for 1460 years, we come to the year B. C. 1322, when the sun was in Cancer, about 14 or 15 days after the summer solstice, which happened on July 5th", but in the next column, "It terminated on the first of January 45 B. C. and from this period the civil year and months were regulated by the course of the sun."
Changing sources to the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, probably the most comprehensive English-language biographical encyclopedia of antiquity prior to the translations of Brill's New Pauly, and going through the first few pages of volume I, "B. C." is reliably before the year in most instances. "Abantidas, the son of Paseas, became tyrant of Sicyon after murdering Cleinias, the father of Aratus, B. C. 264." "C. Aburius was one of the ambassadors sent to Masinissa and the Carthaginians, B. C. 171." "M. Aburius, tribune of the plebs, B. C. 187, opposed M. Fulvius the proconsul in his petition for a triumph", "L. Accius or Attius, an early Roman tragic poet and the son of a freedman, was born according to Jerome B. C. 170", "T. Accius, a native of Pisaurum in Umbria and a Roman knight, was the accuser of A. Cluentius, whom Cicero defended B. C. 66." "Acco, a chief of the Senones in Gaul, who induced his countrymen to revolt against Caesar, B. C. 53." "Acestorides, a Corinthian, was made supreme commander by the Syracusans in B. C. 317, and banished Agathocles from the city."
With regard to other works you can find on Google Books or, Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities (1897) places "B.C." (no space) before the year, in almost every instance, except under "Aegyptus", where it occurs both before and after the year. The English Cyclopaedia (1854–1862) places "B.C." before the year in nearly every instance, but once in a while after. The Macmillan edition of Xenophon's Hellenica (1892) consistently uses before. Edward Greswell's chronological works (1854, 1861) use before. Shuckburgh's edition of the letters of Cicero (1905) consistently uses before.
These are all mainstream works by respected nineteenth century scholars; I think this is very strong evidence to back up what the ngram says: for most of the nineteenth century "B. C." or "B.C." was typically placed before the year, although occasionally after, and it remained fairly common into the twentieth century, even as after became the usual position. Incidentally, I don't think it really matters whether it occurs in running text or tables, as long as the relationship between the era and year is explicit. But all of the examples I've cited use it in running text (although some also contain tables). P Aculeius (talk) 04:09, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
Observing that usage changed does not justify reporting it here without a reliable source noting the change. See WP:SYNTH. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:35, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
So, your contention is that the use of a particular syntax by various encyclopedias and other scholarly sources published during the nineteenth century is insufficient to show that it was used during the nineteenth century? Did you actually read the edit before reverting it, or did you just assume it referred to a change in style? Your characterization of the edit as "disputed, unsourced, and unimportant" on my talk page is patently false: I've provided plenty of evidence from reliable sources, and you've ignored it; the fact asserted is clearly true, but you claim it's disputed (by whom?); it's "important" because without the edit, the article makes an assertion that is incorrect. You've already accused me of "edit warring to protect my preferred version of the page", but what are you doing, other than trying to keep apparently correct and reliably sourced information out of the article? If you don't think the sources are good enough, help me find better ones, or place a tag that would inform other editors that assistance is needed, instead of just reverting and deleting a very simple statement that's both accurate and necessary for a comprehensive discussion of the topic. P Aculeius (talk) 05:54, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
Exactly. We might note that B.C. nnn was used in the 19th century, except that it implies that the usage has changed, and we cannot say that (per WP:SYNTH), as you have not provided a reliable source which reports the change. In fact, you haven't supplied a reliable source that it was "correct" style, only examples of use.
The more complex example under WP:SYNTH notes a hypothetical example in which two sentences, both sourced, could not be placed next to each other. If you can find a scholarly work discussing historical (or even a 19th century work discussing proper) placement and formatting of AD/BC/B.C., the information could probably be placed somewhere in the article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:26, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but that argument is completely fallacious. Stating that a common practice was not always common, or vice-versa, is not synthesis merely because a reader would imply that something must have changed. Let's think of another example. An article about a historic house states that it is painted blue, citing this fact to "source A". Under this interpretation of WP:SYNTH, another editor could not add that, according to "source B", in 1980, the house was painted white; because that might cause readers to infer that somebody had painted the house blue at some point between 1980 and the present, despite the lack of any reliable source stating that anybody had painted it blue during this period. Surely your goal isn't to keep reliable and accurate information out of the article merely because readers might be able to draw inferences from it.
Perhaps review WP:NOTSYNTH. The most applicable section might be, "SYNTH is not obvious II". Here we have two reliably sourced statements: something is usually done one way now, but in the past it was often done differently. That's not synthesis; it's obvious. Any reader who examines the sources will draw the conclusion that things have changed, even if no source can be located explicitly stating that a change has occurred. Before my note was reverted for the fourth and last time last night, it cited to three standard reference works dating from 1823 to 1897, as well as a graphic example showing the change over time. As the citations previously given in the discussion above show, many more sources could easily be cited, many other examples given. But why, when two or three sources will do? And why such an absolute opposition to providing information that is both relevant and accurate, that it can't even be provisionally kept with tags requesting different or better sources, as in the vast majority of cases, including countless assertions throughout Wikipedia that are far more dubious? If you really want to improve this article, then help find sources that give a more complete picture of the subject, instead of simply deleting useful content as soon as it appears. P Aculeius (talk) 00:38, 18 February 2018 (UTC)
You never provided a reference work which described where AD/BC/B.C. should have been placed in the 19th century. You provided 19th century reference works whose placement differs from what would be considered correct, today. That is not sufficient for this article. You are essentially using tertiary sources as references about themselves. Wikipedia prefers secondary sources to primary sources masquerading as tertiary sources. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:26, 18 February 2018 (UTC)
I never claimed they said that one was preferable, mandatory, or prescribed. Merely that a different form was commonly used. It's well-established that books are perfectly sound sources to cite for their own contents. If a particular thing is said by a number of reliable sources, such as encyclopedias and other standard reference works, then it's perfectly fair to cite them to demonstrate that the thing is generally accepted. If you want better sources, then help to find some, or use citation tags to solicit the help of the community to find them; there's no good reason to banish a credible and reliable statement merely because you don't like the sources that have been cited for it. Right now all I see is a string of inapplicable arguments, and each time one of them is answered, you find another policy of dubious application for preventing this information's inclusion in the article:
  1. Unwilling to accept the sources without seeing images of them: editors are not required to provide photographic evidence that sources say what they are cited for. If you want to claim they don't, look at them yourself.
  2. Usage might occur in tables rather than running text: same as above. Also, the argument is irrelevant, because even in a table, the usage would vary from what the article currently says it is, with the implication that that is the only way it can be, and the sources cited refute that. However, as the sources use this format in running text, the point is moot.
  3. Not important enough to include if no cited source says that things have changed: it's important enough to include if it demonstrates that what the article says without it is false or misleading.
  4. Edit warring, removing other editors' content, 3-revert rule, need to discuss on talk page, will be blocked from editing Wikipedia: content removed was mine, not another editor's; editor who was reverting it without discussion on talk page was not warned; talk page discussion initiated before first reversion by said editor, continued before third reversion by second editor; only two reversions occurred, not "more than three"; editor involved in dispute using threat of administrative action in conflict of interest; editor threatening administrative action without any violation of rules having occurred not even an admin.
  5. Disputed, unsourced, and unimportant: accuracy of assertion has not been disputed on any grounds, only the adequacy of the sources. Multiple reliable sources cited, only how they are being used is in dispute; unimportant already refuted, since without qualification the article states something that is demonstrably wrong or misleading.
  6. Cannot note that something was different in the past unless a cited source says that it has changed, due to WP:SYNTH: policy was not intended to prevent the inclusion of useful information, and should be applied with reasonable discretion; something inherently obvious, such as something having changed from what it was before to what it is now, is not synthesis for purposes of WP:SYNTH.
  7. Sources do not show what usage was prescribed at the time in question: unimportant; the point is not whether one usage was required or whether a source states what should have been used, but rather how it was actually used. Agree that a source that explains the usage would be desirable, but usage itself has been adequately demonstrated by the reliable sources already cited.
  8. Tertiary sources cannot be used as references for their own contents: this policy does not exist. Reliable sources are inherently acceptable as proof of their own contents.
  9. Sources cited are primary sources masquerading as tertiary sources: does not matter whether sources are primary or secondary as long as they are reliable, which they are as proof of their own contents.
  10. Secondary sources are preferred to primary sources: that may be so, but the absence of a secondary source does not preclude the use of primary or tertiary sources.
All of the arguments over whether the sources are primary, secondary, tertiary, masquerading, promenading, or marinating are completely irrelevant since all of these types are acceptable. If you want better sources for the assertion, then help find some, instead of digging up more technical reasons for excluding material that is demonstrably correct from an article to which it is relevant and useful. P Aculeius (talk) 21:52, 18 February 2018 (UTC)

B.C. = "before Christ"[edit]

Does this mean that this term was not used before the development of English? Editor2020 (talk) 02:23, 17 May 2018 (UTC)

Perhaps something in Latin? Editor2020 (talk) 02:46, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
In the "Popularization" section of the article it's explained that Bede, in 731, used the phrase "ante vero incarnationis dominicae tempus anno sexagesimo" (in fact in the 60th year before the time of the Lord's incarnation). Jc3s5h (talk) 03:07, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
Thanks! Editor2020 (talk) 02:06, 18 May 2018 (UTC)

Good question. The quote from Bede suggests that back then the term "B.C." may not have been used. Is there any example of how early "B.C." was used? I am not formally trained in Latin, but it seems to me that "before Christ" would be, in Latin, "ante [however "Christ" is spelled in Latin]. I can't find a Latin word which means "before", so I have no idea what the answer would be.Terry Thorgaard (talk) 13:24, 11 April 2020 (UTC)

JimWae and I discussed the first use of "before Christ" in 2008 in the talk archives, see First use of "before Christ" in English?. There I uploaded the first pages of James Ussher's 1650 Latin version Annales Veteris Testamenti (wherein he famously stated that the world was created in 4004 BC) and the postmortem 1658 English translation Annals of the World (not translated by Ussher). Ussher used the Latin phrase "Anno ante æram Christianam" (in the year before the Christian Era) which was translated into English somewhat freely as "The year before Christ". However, this translation did not use the abbreviation "BC". I opined that "before Christ" must have been used earlier because of this free translation. The modern translation The Annals of the World (2003) does use "BC". The article already states "In 1627, the French Jesuit theologian Denis Pétau (Dionysius Petavius in Latin), with his work De doctrina temporum, popularized the usage ante Christum (Latin for "Before Christ") to mark years prior to AD." — Joe Kress (talk) 04:49, 12 April 2020 (UTC)

Scientology page reference[edit]

Scientology in the Dianetics section refers to A.D. as standing for After dianetics. Request someone with more experience to decide how to process this. Reaper14th (talk) 00:08, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

I would just as soon keep that happy little factoid contained on the Scientology page. In terms of Wikipedia policy, I don't think it has enough WP:WEIGHT to merit inclusion here. Other opinions will probably differ. Just plain Bill (talk) 00:44, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

Removed citations[edit]

I didn’t have time to post when I did it (from a different location), but I’ve removed these refs for AD[1][2] and BC[3][4][5] because it seemed completely unnecessary to cite an entirely uncontentious abbreviation in the opening sentence.

  1. ^ "anno Domini". Collins English Dictionary.
  2. ^ "anno Domini". American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  3. ^ "BC". Collins English Dictionary.
  4. ^ "before Christ". American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  5. ^ "BC". Merriam Webster Online Dictionary. (talk) 01:12, 24 February 2020 (UTC)