Cecidi in faciem meam

From Ezekiel 3:23 (version Douay): And I rose up and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory which I saw by the river Chobar. And I fell upon my face. The act of falling upon one’s face is a reverential one; the body, prostrate, rests on the hands and the knees, whereas the head is bent downwards, that it should touch the ground. This entry will examine the Latin, Polish and Friulian readings of I fell upon my face.

Latin. Cecidi in faciem meam. The first-person singular cecidi means I fell, indicative perfect. The reader is here dealing with the verb cado (I fall). Of this verb, such is the indicative perfect: cecidi (I fell; first-person singular); cecidisti (thou fellest; second-person singular); cecidit (he/she/it fell; third-person singular); cecidimus (we fell; first-person plural); cecidistis (you fell; second-person plural); ceciderunt (they fell; third-person plural). The Latin for face is the feminine noun facies; in the present wording, it is found fallen into accusative position: faciem. Also in feminine accusative position is the first-person singular possessive adjective meam, that it should accord with faciem. The use of the accusative here conveys movement, so that in faciem meam means onto my face. In English, the use of onto for the purpose of stressing movement is not always observed, so that on or upon are also possible, or perhaps of even more frequent use: I fell on my face; I fell upon my face, the verb alone being sufficient to convey movement. In the final English rendering which follows, the form onto is preferred, to retain the reader’s attention on the Latin use of the accusative. Wherefore: Cecidi in faciem meam (I fell onto my face).

Polish. Upadłem na twarz. The masculine, first-person singular upadłem means I fell, past tense of the perfective upaść (to fall). The reader will note that the first-person singular has two forms in the past tense, the one masculine and the other feminine: upadłem (masculine); upadłam (feminine); the masculine form upadłem is spoken by a male, whereas the feminine form upadłam is spoken by a female. The Polish for face is the feminine noun twarz; in the present wording, it is found fallen into accusative position, which takes the same form as the nominative: twarz. The use of the accusative here conveys movement, so that na twarz means onto my face, with the use of the English possessive adjective my, absent in the Polish wording, being understood from the use of the first-person singular upadłem. In English, the use of onto for the purpose of stressing movement is not always observed, so that on or upon are also possible, or perhaps of even more frequent use: I fell on my face; I fell upon my face, the verb alone being sufficient to convey movement. In the final English rendering which follows, the form onto is preferred, to retain the reader’s attention on the Polish use of the accusative. Wherefore: Upadłem na twarz (I fell onto my face).

Friulian. O colai cu la muse par tiere. The Friulian infinitive colâ means to fall; its simple past forms are as follows: o colai (I fell; first-person singular); tu colaris (thou fellest; second-person singular); al colà (he/it fell; masculine, third-person singular); e colà (she/it fell; feminine, third-person singular); o colarin (we fell; first-person plural); o colaris (you fell; second-person plural); a colarin (they fell; third-person plural). Muse is a feminine noun meaning face; as for cu la muse, this translates literally as with the face: when the preposition cun (with) and the feminine singular definite article la (the) come together, they form cu la. Now it must be noted that the Friulian definite article can assume the force of a possessive adjective, as it does here, so that cu la muse is better rendered in this context as with my face. The Friulian for ground is the feminine noun tiere. As for par tiere, this is read on the ground or, if movement is to be stressed, onto the ground, for instance: il clap al è par tiere (the stone is on the ground); al butà il clap par tiere (he cast the stone onto the ground). Wherefore: O colai cu la muse par tiere (I fell with my face onto the ground).