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My brain immediately suggested the non-word "promisand", but I doubt I would be understood if I said that. What's a good word (or failing that, phrase) for the action or thing that was promised? This reminds me of Latin expressions like Carthaginem esse delendam (Carthage must be destroyed, lit., 'Carthage is a thing-which-is-to-be-destroyed') or perhaps that once-common mathematical expression QED quod erat demonstrandum ('that was a thing-which-is-to-be-proven').

Circumlocution or other forms are often possible: "He gave me the promised widget" or "He did what he promised he would". But sometimes it's useful to have a word that stands on its own.

More generally, is there a good way to express the construction 'thing-which-is-to-be-X'? In Latin this is a gerundive, though it seems in my brief searches that the term means different things in English and other languages.

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That's why we end up with management speak like "project deliverables" –  mgb Apr 7 '11 at 16:39
@mgb: Making the request that much more important...! –  Charles Apr 7 '11 at 17:23
"That which was promised" would be promissum; promittendum is "that which is to be promised", as you explained above. QED is best translated as "that which was to be demonstrated". –  Cerberus Apr 8 '11 at 4:24
@Cerberus: It actually took me three edits to get QED away from that translation into its current form, which while less good English seemed to better communicate the gerundive nature to non-Latin speakers. You're right on promissum, but that wasn't the actual thought that happened to spring to mind. Only on reflection did I see the correct word. –  Charles Jun 16 '11 at 16:00
@Charles: Well, I'm not so sure about your "thing-which-is-to-be-proven": your "is" is better translated as "was"; and I see no reason to treat "demonstrandum" as a noun—it is a predicative adjective. Not that your translation would be wrong, but your extreme emphasis on its being a noun is not at all present in the Latin. –  Cerberus Jun 16 '11 at 17:52

4 Answers 4

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Hmm... pledge or promise can work in some contexts, but not all. I also don't know a good answer to the more general "thing-which-is-to-be-X" case.

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I don't think there is an answer to either your specific or your general question in English.

The closest is the phrase "what was promised". But note that there are plenty of other expressions which can be expressed in a word in a synthetic language like Latin but need a phrase in English: many of them involve participles.

So for example "loquens" might be translated "speaking", or "who is/was speaking" or "a/the speaker", or "one who speaks" depending on context.

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Thanks for trying. There's no shame in finding no word when there really isn't one. –  Charles Apr 7 '11 at 17:24
In what sense of "synthetic" can this adjective be applied to Latin? –  JPmiaou Apr 7 '11 at 19:25
@JPmiaou: Wikipedia certainly implies that Latin is synthetic, or at least more synthetic than others. –  Marthaª Apr 7 '11 at 20:02
@JPmiaou: It's usually considered fusional, isn't it? And synthetic languages include fusional languages AFAIK. –  Charles Apr 7 '11 at 20:07
@JPmiaou: In the sense that a great deal of its grammar it expressed by building words. English is more analytical, in that most of its grammar is expressed by the arrangement of separate words, and little by adding bits to words. –  Colin Fine Apr 8 '11 at 13:43

I've used "the promised" before.

Charles swore up and down that the blender would be available, a vow he met, but the tale of the delivery of the promised was harrowing, and involved three cars, a bear, a deer, two State Troopers, and the Mayor of a German village.

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Promised can be used as an adjective as in "the promised land."

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