I’ve been reading with mild interest the on-line discussion on the new translation of the Roman Catholic Missal. NCR correspondent Jerry Filteau has a decent summary, and yes the changes are rather trivial from a language perspective–which is why I’ve mainly stayed out of the discussion. I suspect the arguments veil a political/religious tiff that I just don’t (or care to) understand.
Anyway, if you’re interested, the new English translation is here.
Video from this year’s Conventiculum Lexintoniense
This year the Conventuculum featured longer-form orationes, and there is one speaker (Professor
“David Mani” David Money) who spoke De arte versus componendi. If anyone has any information on this lecture (in particular the correct spelling of his name), please put some info in the comments–I’d like to transcribe his elegiac (starting ~5:40) over the next few days…
…[added 9/2/2010] A kind commenter (the author?) transcribed the verses–check them out below.
A good op-ed in this Sunday’s NY Times on Google Translate, the latest version of machine-based language translation. Although past approaches (based on breaking every language into lexicon and grammar) have been laughable–anybody who’s used Babelfish knows that–I’d agree there’s some promise in the statistical approach outlined in the piece.
Spend time on any Latin Language message board and you’ll see more than a few threads dedicated to translating some short English phrase (usually for a tattoo). I usually treat these as interesting discussion ideas; the better ones inevitably become far more interesting than whatever “correct” translation they yield. Still, if you were wondering, Google Translate doesn’t support Latin yet, so there’s still plenty to discuss…
While I acknowledge ancient notions of love weren’t as sentimental and empathetic as modern greeting cards, I’m not sure I completely agree with Hamilton College Classics Professor Barbara Gold when she says:
“They (the Romans) melded coarse obscenities with deepest expressions of sexual, erotic longing…(A)bove all there was no sharing or caring and no real idea of a friendship of equals.”
I’m sure Professor Gold is aware that classical poetry is an extremely mannered form–Catullus’ obscenity notwithstanding–and that youthful hormones may have had something to do with the erotic obsession of the Roman elegists (as for Ovid, his insincerity was a lifelong disease). That’s not the best recipe for heartfelt emotion–and yet there are more than a few fleeting moments of tenderness in extant Latin literature.
Valentine’s Day is next Sunday…and now it’s my mission to refute the idea there was “no sharing or caring and no real idea of a friendship of equals” in ancient Rome. Look for posts in the next few days and judge for yourself…or give me a few ideas in comments.
Quick…did you spot the problem with that banner/headline? Because the folks who came up with this new motto for Italy’s firefighters (yes, Italy) could probably use a Latin refresher course…
…adding: I found a picture on Italy’s Il Gazzettino.
Following up on the controversy over the new Roman Missal translation, I found more on the translation from this 2006 Catholic Insight article regarding the changes.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is holding their general assembly in Baltimore this week, and while much of the media attention is focused on their opinions regarding healthcare in the US, the bishops will also be voting on the new English translation of the Roman Missal. This translation has been in the works for the past six years, and early reports are that it is far more literal than the current translation.
That doesn’t sit well with at least one attendee. Bishop Donald Trautman of the Erie PA diocese spoke out against it just a few weeks ago:
“What the new missal presents is a slavishly literal translation with Latin syntax and word order, infused with esoteric words and phrases.”
Bishop Trautman continued his protest yesterday as translations of the Missal were presented, citing what appears to be a point of order as to who holds authority over the translation. Jerry Filteau of the National Catholic Reporter is blogging the conference, in case you need some live updates.
I have been vaguely aware of this controversy for the past year. I think one example of an expected literal change comes from the prayer recited right before Communion: Dómine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum…. This has previously been translated as “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you…” I have heard that the new translation will actually spell out the idiom as “enter under my roof". I’ll have to make a point of reviewing the proposed translations this evening…
So I’m web surfing with the TV on again, and what should pop up on NBC’s sitcom 30 Rock but a hilarious bit of Latin.
The setup has NBC executive Jack Donaghy mutter the usual Caesar quote on betrayal to his page Kenneth - Et tu, Kenneth. Kenneth, naturally, responds in pure Ciceronian Latin. Unfortunately I wasn’t recording his four-odd lines, but I know it included the quote in the title (from Cicero’s De Legibus III.3.8).
Not sure if the show used subtitles for non-Latinists; once the video is posted I’ll offer a link, but if you happened to tivo it, a transcript would be welcome in comments…
Many of you may know that Fr. Reginald Foster–the Vatican’s Latinist–has been recuperating in his hometown of Milwaukee after suffering a fall last summer. He has recently posted a message on YouTube–Latin with a few English translations–giving news of his condition.
I’ve read more than one criticism of Fr. Foster’s gravelled, Italian-by-way-of-Chicago pronunciation, but IMO that misses the point entirely. His “Latin Lover” podcast/program on Vatican radio displays an enthusiasm other Latinists should encourage rather than nitpick.
I must be the last person on the Internet to realize the value of Google Books. I found a copy of Anthon’s System of Latin Versification there last week, a book I had lost long ago (it was one of those photocopy re-issues–no big financial loss–but every so often I’d half-remember a piece of advice from it and wish I still had my old annotated copy)…
A twelve minute film from this year’s Conventiculum Lexintoniense is up on Youtube (in two parts):
Dr. Tunberg’s Latin is quite clear and fairly straightforward. All the participants in fact display an impressive command of the language…I had to replay a few of the in-class and group-outdoor scenes because of the audio, but that’s a minor quibble.
According to the video, 77 people attended this year. Iam venturo anno mihi est comitandum. Quamquam (propter negotium familiamque) longius uno die morari non possim, non dubito quin occasio tamen inaestimabilis studio Latino sit.
BTW Scorpio is right–Ego quoque malo Belgicam Cervesiam quam calidam Britannicam gustare:-)
Thx to Schola for pointing me to an interesting Modern/Spoken Latin site from L. Amadeus Ranierius. Scorpio Martianus includes two-minute news reports delivered in excellent Latin (approx 1 a week since early May); well worth a look if the idea of Conversational Latin still seems intimidating…
A small bit of Latin in this Yahoo! article on the official addition of element 112 to the Periodic Table of Elements:
The zinc and lead nuclei were fused to form the nucleus of the new element, also known as Ununbium, Latin for 112.
The naming follows a similar pattern for all recently-discovered elements:
110 Ununnilium (renamed Darmstadtium in 2003)
111 Unununium (renamed Roentgenium in 2004)
112 Ununbium (Uub)
113 Ununtrium (Uut)
114 Ununquadium (Uuq)
115 Ununpentium (Uup)
116 Ununhexium (Uuh)
117 Ununseptium (Uus)
118 Ununoctium (Uuo)
Latinists will recognize the contracted numeral roots in all of these. Most of them are Latin, but a few (e.g. Ununpentium) are Greek, no doubt to provide the element with a unique atomic symbol (Ununquiquium would have the same symbol as Ununquadium).
If custom holds, Ununbium will receive a new designation soon. Might I suggest Centumduodecimium?
Evan Millner and Laura Gibbs have been busy at the Tar Heel Reader site adding short Latin books that make for excellent Latin tutorials. Ms. Gibbs is the longtime author of the Latin via Fables blog–an excellent site I should probably have written about sooner–along with a student reader of Latin fables.
Two items at Tarheel that really caught my interest were fables written as poems: Formica et Cicada and Gallus et Margharita. Ms. Gibbs has posted several versions of each; the Ant and Grasshopper, for example, is written as elegiac couplets, iambics (versions with feet separated or just macrons), paraphrased versions of each, and for real beginners additional bilingual paraphrases that include step-by-step English translation. I’m particularly happy with the iambics; teachers often avoid presenting this meter to students–most likely because it has so many apparent “exceptions” when compared to the regular dactylic and lyric meters–but in my experience the comic plays of Plautus and Terence can really win over students used to the “serious” Latin of Caesar and Cicero.
I also note a few other poetry-based books on Tarheel: There’s a copy of Horace’s ode III.30 and an abridged version of ode I.1, which essentially add pictures to each line. Other verse selections seem to be paraphrases that rearrange the words in a more English-friendly format, like this edition of Ode I.23. These shorter poems IMO reveal some of the shortcomings of the basic-reader format. A simple paraphrase of the Chloe ode may help a few students, but IMO too much is lost to rely strictly on the current version. Conversly, simply adding pictures to the text makes the poem more elegant, but helps only slightly with basic meaning. It seems to me more complex poetical pieces require several parallel versions to capture both the basic meaning and the subtler verse elements, much like what Ms. Gibbs has done with her fables.
Nevertheless, it’s clear Ms. Gibbs, Mr. Millner (webmaster at the Schola Latin social network), and others have worked hard on the readers, and I’m encouraging all Latinists–teachers in particular–to check out the Tarheel site and maybe add a few pages on their own.
H/T to Rogue Classicism for this video from Radio Bremen
Around 1960, US college diplomas started changing from Latin to English (my mother earned her BA and MA in English from the same midwestern college around this time; the BA was in Latin, the MA from two years later was in English). The Ivy League has (naturally) always been a holdout, but this op-ed by classics professor Christopher Francese argues it’s time to retire this pretentious and obsolete practice.
It’s a point I’m sympathetic to. The only reason to write a diploma in Latin today is to overawe with faux-erudition–face it, if you can’t read your own diploma, what’s the point of having it? There’s something ironic about insisting on a token of education that demonstrates your own ignorance. Worse, defending the practice simply encourages students to see Latin as an “ivory tower” subject, which means fewer students taking up the subject in school.
And before you ask, yes I wish my diplomas were in Latin, but then again I can easily read a Latin diploma–at least the ones that don’t have some unusual Neologism (hmm…what’s the Latin for “Marketing” or “Los Angeles"?).
That, TV fans, is the answer to the question posed throughout the second half of the season on ABC’s hit adventure/drama series Lost: “What lies in the shadow of the statue?". As noted in a previous post, this season revealed that the group of island dwellers known as the “Others” spoke Latin, and it appears the ageless Richard (Ricardus?) has been speaking the language for quite a long time.
Sorry if none of this makes any sense to you, but I expect the thousands of Lost fans who are googling the phrase are champing at the bit for a translation. Fine; Ille qui nos omnes servabit - “He who will protect us all.” Latin students will be careful not to confuse the verb servo, servare - “protect, keep” (it’s the root of English words like “conserve” and “preserve"), with the almost-homophone servio, servire - “to serve". The writers probably didn’t intend a double meaning in Richard’s answer, but given the amount of speculation this show fosters, I’ll leave it for others to decide.
Just spent some brief email-time consulting with a writer who was commenting on Pope Benedict XVi’s encyclical Spe Salvi. A point of grammar/vocabulary from that letter was essential for teasing out a correct theological meaning.
The newly-built Citi Field–like many other recent ballparks–has generated revenue by allowing fans to leave personal messages inscribed in bricks installed in walkways/concourses around the yard. Mets fans in New York paid $400 apiece to immortalize their words in an 8″x8″ brick along the Fan Walk, and if it’s anything like similar projects around the US there are probably more than a few in Latin. The New York Times did a brief survey, and you can probably guess the favorite quote…
BTW, if anyone spots another favorite Latin ballyard inscription, that’s what comments are for…
I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoyed the Asterix comics series when I was younger; it still seems like a great way to attract kids to the subject. Unfortunately, it seems a family dispute is threatening the title more seriously than any Roman legion ever did.
Just when I least expect it, this evening’s episode of the ABC Series Lost features characters speaking Latin to each other; and for the most part the actors try and duplicate a classical pronunciation.
The series is far too complicated to explain, but if you’re interested in seeing a little spoken Latin from primetime US television, you can view this evening’s episode here. The first Latin exchange is at the 14 minute mark:
Other 1: Quare non sunt vestitus eis?
Other 2: Tace!
Juliet: Cognoscitis qui sumus? ("Do you know who we are?” - shouldn’t this be simus–indirect question?)
Note the first actor overemphasizes the classical “w” sound for the v leading off vestitus. Juliet translates the phrasing correctly, although vestitus, -us is more generally “clothing” than military “uniforms". Another exchange–with subtitles–occurs at :27, si placet…
A short op-ed from the Gazette of Beaufort, SC strings together a number of Latin aphorisms to lecture us about modern economic problems.
What’s interesting to me is the source: “A Collection of Latin Maxims and Phrases Literally Translated and Explained by John M. Cottrell, Intended for the use of Students for all Legal Examinations. Washington, D.C., John Byrne and Company, Law Book Publishers, 1897.” Has anyone else run across this tome?
The quote above–a neat little rhyme–is often attributed to Cicero, but is actually by the 17th century English jurist Sir Edward Coke (makes sense in a book of legal maxims). It is loosely translated “prevention is better than cure”
I recently joined the multitude and swapped my old celphone for the new 3G iPhone. This slick device allows you to download a wide variety of applications from the iTunes-based Application Store, so on a lark I thought I’d do a seach on “Latin".
Surprisingly (to me at least) quite a few applications popped up–even after sifting out the ones related to Latin music. For example, there are plenty of Latin dictionaries, and someone has even ported William Whitaker’s Words, although the ported version doesn’t include English-to-Latin search. More interesting was the free app I found entitled “Latin Reader", a small program that parses two short poems of Catullus. It’s fairly crude–if you need “help” on a line you get some pretty skimy grammar tips along with a English translation–but it also seems a step in the right direction if you’re interested in getting folks who studied a bit of Latin to read more. And since I’m one of those people, maybe I’ll spend a little time looking at Apple’s Developer Program…
An art installation by Lawrence Weiner at Rome’s Gagosian Gallery should delight any Latinists planning a visit.
The show has gotten at least one good review, though the author should check his Latin sources more closely. Si parva licet componere magnis is actually from the Georgics, not the Aeneid. After describing the hot work of the Cyclopses in their forge under Mt. Etna, he compares it to the furious labor of bees:
Non aliter–si parva licet componere magnis–
Cecropias innatus apes amor urget habendi,
munere quamque suo. (G. IV.176-8)
Innatus…amor…habendi should be taken as the complete subject of urget; Cecropias - “Cecropian” identifies these apes as ones that buzz over Athens (Cecrops is the city’s legendary founder, and honey was one of Greece’s most important exports). Note how Vergil passes from the plural apes to the singular quamque - “each one (of which)".
The phrase almost sounds like Vergil is making a parenthetical apology for his unusual simile, since tiny bees and gigantic cyclopses might be too far out of proportion to produce an effective comparison.
That’s the first word that popped in my head when I read about some local council efforts in England to ban Latin terms. I mean really, vice versa is elitist? By that standard councils may want to consider banning polysyllabic English words.
Here’s a sample dispatch from the pending idiocracy:
(T)he move has been welcomed by the Plain English Campaign which says some officials only use Latin to make themselves feel important.
Imputing another’s motives based merely on personal feelings is solipsism–look it up if you don’t know what it means. And then there’s this brilliant insight:
A Campaign spokesman said the ban might stop people confusing the Latin abbreviation e.g. with the word “egg".
Really? While many readers might not know the letters stand for exempli gratia, I’ve heard more than a few who think it means “example given"–a workable definition–and not a single one who ever though it meant “egg".
Adding…the Daily Mail article includes a list with suggested alternatives; Vice versa = “the other way round". I also realize that immigrant communities where English is a second language can be bullied by overly-stylized language. But I don’t think that’s the real issue here; some folks consider Latin in general to be elitist, and there are few things folks enjoy more than deflating a perceived snobbery, no matter the consequences.
If you disagree, that’s what comments are for, and I’d love to hear an explanation of the elitism behind terms/abbreviations like etc., ad lib., and vice versa. Aren’t these pretty much a part of standard English, and are circumlocutions like “the other way round” really a better choice?
A commentor has asked for a translation of Maureen Dowd’s dog-Latin Tu Betchus column. I haven’t looked too hard, but since I don’t see one on line, here’s my attempt (note that some of Dowd’s Latin is not strictly grammatical, so don’t ask me to defend this)…
Does it encourage the study of Latin – or at least put it more in the public eye? Maybe it does – just as when Boris Johnson spouts (quite good) Latin at the opening of the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum…
Or does it take our eye off the real intellectual interest of the study of the ancient world and turn Latin into a jolly jape, always good for a laugh on an otherwise dreary Sunday. A bit like running an article in cod-Cornish.
I don’t know. Debeo reflectare, as Dowd might have put it.
My opinion is closer to the first, and I don’t think the “jolly jape” is necessarily a bad alternative. A number of people study Latin although few do so as professional classicists. In that regard, Latin is little different from any hobby; is everyone who plays basketball aiming only for a professional career?
This is why I find things like Vicipaedia so inspiring, as interested people–certainly not professional classicists–develop their own outlets for creative expression. If you ask me, Latin can use a few more amateurs, not less…
Maureen Dowd has a hilarious column in this morning’s NY Times that sees echoes of the Roman Empire in the current economic meltdown and presidential campaign.
I usually find such comparisons passe, but Ms. Dowd has taken the trouble to cast the second half of her column as a Latin language melodrama “The Battle of Gall” (get it?).
Yes, for the second time in less than a year, the NY Times has an editorial in Latin on its op-ed page. Not that it’s great Latin–it’s peppered thoughout with English-equivalents (I guess Ms. Dowd didn’t want to guess at the Latin phrase lectus apricandi - “tanning bed")–but its funny and not bad in spots. A few notes for those not watching the election as closely:
Tu Betchus - Republican VP nominee Sara Palina has been lampooned for her folksy speech pattern, which includes phrases like “You Betcha!".
sneero, sneerare, sneeravi, sneeratus - to sneer (duh)
terroris - “terrorist”
Georgius Bushus Secundus colossalis goofballus - Not that tough to decipher, but I like the fact that Ms. Dowd calls him “V.” because there is no W in Latin.
I’ve written a few posts in the past about Latin as an art form in modern times. It’s a topic I really should explore more often, but I always feel such discussions devolve into pointless navel gazing; a paragraph or two in and I start to ask “What is the point of defending this?” If it matters the work will speak for itself; if not then why add more fodder to the opus futile?
The number of students in the United States taking the National Latin Exam has risen steadily to more than 134,000 students in each of the past two years, from 124,000 in 2003 and 101,000 in 1998, with large increases in remote parts of the country like New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont. The number of students taking the Advanced Placement test in Latin, meanwhile, has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, to 8,654 in 2007.
And if this isn’t a jaw-dropper for US education, I don’t know what is:
Marty Abbott, education director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, said it was possible that Latin would edge out German as the third most popular language taught in schools, behind Spanish and French, when the preliminary results of an enrollment survey are released next year. In the last survey, covering enrollment in 2000, Latin placed fourth.
Newer approaches to language instruction–ones that offer alternatives to the overly-analytical approach that dominated previous generations–is probably an important part of this revival. And based on the increase in NLE applicants from “remote parts of the country", I’d also credit a jump in the number of homeschoolers, a group that–for religious or other reasons–seems to be very interested in Latin.
…well I tried to stay up, but I never heard any Latin on the internet feed–just pleasant-enough Germn banter and a lot of American rap songs (I gave up after about an hour). But I did run across this video from the KISS-FM website; it’s not much but it’s something.
I presume the video shows the station’s air talent toga-ed up for the day’s event. I’ve transcribed the Latin, but I suggest you take a listen first and see how much you can get out of it. The young lady’s pronunciation is a bit difficult to follow, especially at the beginning where she appears to start in German and makes a few errors as she tries to correct herself; it was a bit difficult to follow. The rest however is quite clear, and the young man has quite a excellent, oratorical delivery.
You can read my transcript by hitting more below; bona fortuna!
…Berlin’s KISS-FM broadcasts in Latin tomorrow morning Berlin time.
For listeners outside of Germany, you can pick up the free audio stream here (Thx to commenter Magistra). The morning show runs from 6-10AM local time; Berlin in 7 hours ahead of Chicago, so that’s 11PM-3AM Central Time in the US. If I can record some clips (both technically and legally), look for some audio samples here in the next day or so.
To mark the European Day of Languages September 26th Berlin’s Kiss-FM morning radio show will broadcast entirely in Latin.
But if you buy this shirt, let’s hope you have a better fate than the Trojan who uttered the original.
Peter Lech at his Ad Montem Heliconium blog is kind enough to share his Latin poetry through its various revisions. A neat example is his translation into elegiacs of the old English song The Westron Wynde.
I found this picture while reading an article at the New Haven Advocate about binge drinking among US college students. I believe it’s a portion of some Latin doggerel sparked by English rugby fans: Imbibo, adepto madidus, cado super - “I drink, I get drunk, I fall over.” The problem, of course, is with adepto. We might generously claim this is an oddball future imperative, but a more sober guess is this should be adipiscor–which isn’t really great Latin itself (my vote is for fio or the more accurate fiam). At haud mihi explicare madidis!
I don’t know anything about Peter Lech, but apparently he has the same crazy idea I have about promoting modern Latin literature. Check out his Ad Montem Heliconium blog for some wonderful modern Latin verses, song translations–sound familiar? He’s added to the “Favorite Latin Sites” list on the right.
The Pope’s visit to Sydney last month prompted the Australian government to pass a law permitting the arrest of anyone “annoying” papal well-wishers.
The law predictably backfired, and judging by the photo seems to have inspired a lucrative T-shirt business protesting both the visit and the (somewhat arbitrary IMO) law. The hawker in this photo wears a shirt sporting some tit-for-tat Latin: Pontifex me vexat - “The pope annoys me.” Two shots for the price of one.
Kudos to Robin Sutherland, the writer of the timely palindrome in the title (via Leah Garchik’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle.
You knew it had to happen sooner or later…if anyone finds the text of Mayor Johnson’s speech, please drop a comment.
Jeff Woodward over at Thursday Night Gumbo has tagged me along with five much more talented bloggers to complete a chain-letter style exercise. The rules:
1. Link the person(s) who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.
I’m complying only because Mr. Watson’s request for captiunculae cotidianae is a respectable and alliterative translation for “unremarkable quirks". Ergo, continuo percensam…
Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow died of colon cancer last Sunday. His funeral was today, which prompted this encomium from a former producer at Fox News. It included this tidbit:
(W)hen (Joe) Lockhart became President Clinton’s press secretary(,) Tony offered him some words of advice and concluded with this Latin phrase, “Noli nothis permittere te terere,” don’t let the bastards get you down – goodness. When he took the post that Lockhart once held, I sent him a congratulatory note, and quoted his words back to him.
The quote is from Henry Beard’s excellent Latin for Even More Occasions, published in 1991 (Lockhart became press secretary in late 1998) I suppose Mr. Beard was tired of the familiar mock-Latin phrase Illegitimi Non Carborundum.
Mr. Snow was Catholic and his college degree was in philosophy, so it’s perhaps not surprising he had at least a little interest in Latin.
I can across a thread on Textkit regarding Latin recitation for poetry. It’s well worth a look.
The thread begins with a Youtube link for a reading of Aeneid VI.836-853. I think the recitation is perfect for beginners; the rhythm is deliberately over-emphasized, but hearing it this way gives one a good starting point to develop a more natural style. It reminded me of my own high-school Latin teacher, who pounded out the rhythm of the dactylic hexameter by tapping a ruler on the edge of his desk. Our reading was very mechanical at first, but improved over the semester.
For those interested in more, the fellow in the video has also started typing out Charles Bennett’s The Quantitative Reading of Latin Poetry, complete with mp3’s for some of the sample lines. I haven’t read this book in a while–a copy of the out-of-print text lurks somewhere in a box in my garage–but the advice it gives stands up even today.
I’d like to credit the man, who identifies himself as Alatius on Textkit and Winge42 on Youtube. He’s doing good work to help revive Latin as an artistic medium, a topic I am very much interested in.
My wife and I went to the Cubs game last night (they won!). I’ve mentioned before the club has an unofficial Latin motto, so for a bit of fun I had a t-shirt made with the word “FACIENDUMST” (=faciendum est) etched on the back. That’s my translation for “It’s Gonna Happen", a phrase that’s become a fan slogan of late at the Friendly Confines.
I was curious to see if anyone would get it, and to my surprise two different people at the ballpack recognized the word as Latin and asked me about it. I’ll admit it’s a toughie even if you know a litfair bit of the language: The impersonal gerundive is usually a second-year detail, and the aphraesis ending -umst = -um est is something even a fourth-year student might miss (I chose it because it sounded informal like the original’s “Gonna"). One woman whose father weas a Latin teacher wrote it down to share with him at a later date–"He’d get a kick out of it".
I doubt it will catch on (there’s been at least one incorrect translations of the phrase already this year). But it made my night to know it wasn’t a completely worthless effort. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the summer…
I mentioned this previously, but it case you missed it the University of Buffalo Conventiculum is this weekend. If you are a Latin student that can swing a weekend trip to NW New York, it’s probably worth a visit. $75 (includes meals) sounds like a pretty good deal.
Some Latin Mass commentary from Newsweek’s George Weigel. The article is heavy on church politics and the “reform” vs. “reform of the reform” controversy that has ebbed and flowed in the Catholic church since 1970. While this detail doesn’t interest me much, I agree with the following speculation:
In international settings, the use of this rite in Latin may help revive that ancient tongue as a common Catholic language for common worship–no small matter in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic church.
I have heard several older Catholics mention this notion of a “common language” in pre-Vatican II times. It often meant merely that one could go anywhere in the world and hear the same Mass, but I don’t doubt a more prominent role for the language in religion will promote its use generally in the secular world.
The first in 40-odd years.
In crawling the web I came across Bringfield’s Head Press, a small Cambridge (UK) enterprise that is attempting to publish collections of Modern Latin.
Their first publication is Ramillies, a book celebrating the 300th anniversary of the 1706 battle of Ramillies with essays and a few on-subject Latin poems. If you are a UK citizen or at least able to issue a check in Pounds or Euros, you can order a copy via the information on the website. I contacted the publisher and once I get the Pounds vs. Dollars matter straightened out (this is a very, very small enterprise), I’ll read the poetry and let you know how it is (This is a longshot, but the publisher says his US agent has left the states and he’s interested in finding a new one who might be willing to handle small transactions for them. If you are interested or know someone who might help, you can contact D. K. Money at firstname.lastname@example.org).
The site promises more in the months to come; for now, I encourage you to read Mr. Money’s essay “What is the point of Latin poetry?”. I share most of his views on modern Latin verse as an art form and think he raises quite valid points in its current defense and potential for the future.
Ashley Alexandra Dupre is the call-girl whose relationship with New York Govenor Eliot Spitzer led to his recent resignation. A recent tabloid photo of Ms. Dupre on the beach revealed an odd Latin tattoo:
The newspaper that published this photo went to several classics scholars to translate the phrase Tutela Valui. The choices:
Needless to say, the tattoo is likely babelfish, so all of these could be justified in one way or another.
Chalk it up as another lesson for those interested in getting a tattoo in Latin. Gerry Visco, administrator of the Classics department at Columbia, summarizes nicely:
“We get a lot of people calling up - every day, I’d say - wanting to put something on a mug or T-shirt. They think there’s a team of scribes sitting here waiting to translate for them.”
Every on-line Latin forum I’ve visited is littered with Latin translation requests for tattoos. Some of the responses are the well-considered product of Latin diligence, while others are not much better than Babelfish. Which category do you think the following lands in:
Behold the right forearm of Laredo Broncos’ pitcher John Odom, a professional (minor-league) baseball player who underwent “Tommy John” surgery to save his career in 2005 (see the scar right below the Latin). I wish this fellow all the best in his career, but hope he finds a better translation for his left arm (I think he’s going for Dolor Par Sapientiae - “Pain equals wisdom").
In the wake of the otherwise forgettable 2005 feature film Doom–based on the video game of the same name–film critic Roger Ebert made some comments regarding the artistic value of electronic gameplay. Although they may be subtle, ingenious, challenging, even visually stunning, video games couldn’t be art because the nature of the medium (player control of outcome, investment of enormous amounts of time, no emotional catharsis beyond solving a puzzle) seems to contradict common artistic goals.
Check out this error I found on SocalTech.com news, a clearing house for tech company press releases:
San Diego-based BidShift said this morning that it has renamed the company, and has become Concerro, Incorporated. According to BidShift, Concerro is Latin for “to bridge or connect.”
Uh…no it isn’t. Concerro is Latin for “a boon companion, playmate"; the word is a combination of con- - “together” and the verb gero - “bring", referring perhaps to one who contributes food to a common feast.
Bidshift may have been shooting for concero - “join, inter-twine", a Medievalism hatched from the rare cero - “smear with wax".
One of the reasons I started this blog–besides a desire to foster general discussion of the Latin language–is to short-circuit what I’ve seen is a particularly irksome trend in Latin language study: The tendency for students to approach the language as if they were navigating a minefield or diffusing a bomb. Grammar instruction is fine, perhaps on some level even essential. And certainly some minds respond to the grammar-heavy method of learning a language, so no teacher worth his/her salt would dismiss it since the diversity of students in a modern classroom requires several different approaches rather than an insistence on one “right” method.
But IMO an over-emphasis on grammar has made some students gunshy about Latin; one false move and you’re bombarded by grammarians who will explain in exquisite detail why the imperfect subjunctive is required in that clause. If you’re lucky you can sneak away while they argue whether your choice of estimo is best for the verb “think” in this particular sentence…
I’ve read a variety of Latin texts for years, and consider myself quite fluent in the language. Does that mean I don’t make mistakes in my own Latin composition? Absolutely not, and I’ll admit to some pretty good blunders at times. Putting aside typos (I’m a horrible typist), I once offered a rather cumbersome (and incorrect) translation for the maxim “One must endure": Cuidam toleranda est - “things are for someone to be tolerated” (yes, est should be sunt). Another writer then offered the simpler patiendum est (a predicate gerundive is best for generic obligations where the subject is abstract, like “one"; a form of quiddam is unnecessary, and can be misread as the object of patiendum). Seems pretty obvious now, but very few people think their mistakes are obvious when they’re making them.
We all need to learn from our mistakes, but I wonder if excessive quibbling over forms and vocabulary is limiting real use of the language as an intellectual and even creative activity. I also wonder if niggling over grammar is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees; the more time we spend on points of grammar, the less we have for rhetoric, artistry, and the other wonders of language: A well-delivered speech, a heart-touching poem, or a well-drawn character in a novel. These, to me, are far more interesting than the details regarding sequence of tenses.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the Latin elegy De Piris Vernantibus, an excellent bit of modern/recent Latin I found on a website devoted to Latin poetry.
The author of the piece–Massimo Scorsone–contacted me via email this past week. Though flattered at the rcommendation, he felt he had to point out the elegy is a paraphrase from a portion of the American poem Among the Trees by 19th century writer/newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant (I regret to say it’s a poem I’d never read until I received the email). Mr. Scorsone says it was a work he “translated in Latin some years ago for my own pleasure, in (an) attempt to ‘reconstruct’ a fictitious ‘ancient archetype’ to the text…” His elegy picks up nine lines into Bryant’s, and ends about two-thirds of the way down.
Translation or not, I stand by my original assessment; Scorsone’s work is an excellent piece that Latinists should take a moment to review and enjoy.
A short piece on gardening in the Olympia Register includes some Latin tips for those interested in the botanical names of plants. One paragraph tells the tale of a gardener whose knowledge of Latin helped her doctor discover a treatment for her rash (though if my doctor had to use Google to find a cure, I might just look for a new doctor).
I understand Latin mottoes are far more popular among European soccer clubs, but here in the US the Chicago Cubs have an unofficial Latin motto stationed on one of the rooftops overlooking the ballpark (buildings overlooking the park rent their rooftop space for gameday parties):
The numbers on the right indicate the total years since the Cubs last won the division (03), pennant (61), and World Series (98); this photo was therefore taken in 2006.
If anyone has a link to photos of other sports-related Latin, send it my way ("Contact the admin” email link at bottom of page).
Finally got some of my own poetry up on the site, for your amusement and ridicule. Click on some of the links at the right under “My Original Latin Poetry” and send me some feedback.
I thought I’d scan around for some poetry appropriate to the spring season, and found some elegant verses by one Massimo Scorsone entitled De piris uernantibus - “The Springtime Pear Trees” (poem opens in new window).
Dr. Mary Beard has a problem with Vicipaedia, and in her latest column provocatively asks do we really need a Latin version of Wikipedia?
Her answer is no, and I can understand some points of her argument. I’ve written about some of the site’s problems in a previous post, and think it’s best to approach it as a “sandbox” for budding Latin scholars to test their understanding of the language:
Just because there’s an NBA doesn’t mean everyone else should stop playing basketball, or that it isn’t interesting to watch any well-played game, no matter the skill level. Vicipaedia gives the web enough tabulae rasae that there’s no shortage of personal-favorite topics for a budding Latinist to write about
So I have to say–with all due respect–Dr. Beard is uncharacteristically wrong on this one. Her point about the time wasted there on trivial arguments like “how to translate such termini technici as ‘link’ into Latin. Ligamen, nexus or vinculum?” is a good one, but I’ll submit that’s more a result of the prescriptive/analytical approach of most Latin instruction; if Latin is taught like a puzzle to solve with grammar references and morphology lists, it’s no wonder Latin students approach a new composition problem in the same way. Such an approach IMO blinds Latin students to the rather obvious solution: Don’t mandate any one term, but rather note that all three are in use and see if with steady usage that condition changes (it almost certainly will). When usage coalesces around one or more terms, that’s when it gets canonized.
Yes, I’m a descriptivist at heart, and I think it would be interesting to see if such an approach would work with a dead language. Vicipaedia offers an exciting opportunity to do just that.
Among the new links to the right, I’ve included an anthology of comtemporary latin poetry collected by Mark Maskowitz. Though it doesn’t seem to get updated much, the site offers a decent survey for all skill levels.
Take a look if you’d like to read something a little different; I’ve been poking around myself, and plan to make recommendations later this week
I tried to stick to ones where the speaker memorized the text, but I had to include the last one because IMO the woman speaking does an excellent job. All of them get the cadence right, and their recitation exposes the structure of Cicero’s brilliant rhetoric. Listen to them all, and I guarantee you’ll understand the Latin better.
Regarding that last video, some of the comments left by users are quite nit-picky–details about Latin aspiration, for example, are really guesswork, and most of them seem to revolve around which book on the subject you last read. I really don’t understand why so much time is wasted arguing over classical Latin pronunciation among non-linguists. If you can easily understand the words being said, who cares? I’m happy some students are moved enough by the subject to work on and post things like this; it’s much better that rude snobbery in the service of faux erudition.
I found these funny verses by Martinus Zytophilus up on Ephemeris the other day:
Pars tua posterior cur lingitur ore fideli?
Cur ita terga humilis plebs tua, papa, petit?
Quae faciem tuam habet, bene tessera tincta saliva
haereat in cartis, qua cita verba volent.
(Papa here refers to the Pope; tessera I think is a photograph or holy card; cartis - “papers” I’m taking to be the pages of a book)
Religious poetry doesn’t usually do much for me, but this one is both amusing and insightful, like any good epigram:
Why is your posterior licked with a faithful mouth?
Why do the humble people, Papa, seek your backside?
Better that a card–which has your face–moistened with saliva
stick in pages from where words may wish to start.
Cita (esse) verba volent is difficult, but IMO it poetically indicates the place in a book where you place a bookmark (where you need to “pickup the words/start reading” the next time you open it). The implication is that time spent by the laity flattering the Pope might be beter spent in reading/education, a sentiment I heartily agree with.
In flipping thru Vicipaedia this morning, I thought I’d check on how fast the updates move in. The entry on Fidelis Castro now contains the following text (I didn’t add it):
Die 19 Februarii 2008 Castro nuntiavit se a omnibus muneribus removere.
Considering this was just announced this morning, that’s pretty quick for a “dead” language…
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