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Latin/The grammar of mutates mutants

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Question
Hi Maria,

Sorry but this question might be very basic. Could you please tell me what is the grammar behind the Latin phrase "mutatis mutandis"? I checked Wiktionary, and discovered that this phrase was composed by two participles, or one verb and one participle. If we are to think this alone the one-verb line, then shouldn't the meaning of this be "you are to be moved or changed" ? As for the two participles, I don't think I know anything about it from class, yet.

Can't not thank you enough
Lilian

Answer
Hello,

The Latin phrase “mutatis mutandis”, which literally means “the things that have to be changed having been changed”, is just composed of a past passive participle (mutatis, meaning "having been changed") and a gerundive, aka verbal adjective (mutandis, meaning "the things that have to be changed"), both in the ablative plural, because this phrase is a Latin  idiomatic construction  called “ablative absolute” as it expresses in the ablative case the subject of the phrase with a participle in agreement, usually to  define the time or circumstances of an action.
See for example:“Caesar, acceptis litteris, nuntium misit”,literally meaning :"the letters having been received, Caesar sent a messenger ", i.e. "having received the letters, Caesar sent a messenger", where "acceptis litteris" is an ablative absolute with "litteris" as the subject and "acceptis" as the verb in the past passive participle.

So, in "mutatis mutandis" the word "mutatis" is the past passive participle, while
the gerundive "mutandis" is the subject and means "the things that have to be changed"/"The things that must be changed" because in Latin the gerundive denotes obligation / necessity.

To sum up, “mutatis mutandis”, which literally means  “the things that have to be changed having been changed”, corresponds to “the necessary changes having been made" or "once the necessary changes have been made".

Such a Latin phrase is used  when you are comparing two or more things or situations and you are making the small changes that are necessary for each individual case, without changing the main points, as in for example:"The same contract, mutatis mutandis, will be given to each employee" (= "the contract is basically the same for everybody, but the names, etc. are changed").
As for the translation "you are to be moved or changed”, it is absolutely wrong, of course.

Hope all is clear enough. Feel free however  to ask me again.

Best regards,
Maria
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GRAMMATICAL ANALYSIS

-MUTATIS (ablative plural, past participle, passive voice of the present indicative MUTO, I change)= having been changed

-MUTANDIS (ablative plural,gerundive of the verb MUTO) = the things that have to be changed/that must be changed.
Note that "the things", Latin "rebus" (ablative plural of the noun RES, 5th declension),is implied.  

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Maria

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I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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