Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In tanto discrimine rerum...

I'm indebted to my erudite and witty friend abf for this wonderful link to the New York Times. As one who preceded me through the rigours of Professor Christian J. Fordyce's Latin (or "Humanity") classes at Glasgow, he alone can now furnish me with the forgotten phrase or lost particle - and stands firm with me against the hordes who abuse the apostrophe and split their infinitives.

This piece of writing recalls the days spent wrestling with the weekly Prose Composition exercise, in which we had to render such writers as Macaulay and Churchill into idiomatic Latin. Brush up your amoamasamat and enjoy!

Darn. I've just realised that my link takes you only to the registration for the NYT site. Here is a small sample of what you are missing if you don't register:

Bellum Gallium

Manes Julii Caesaris paucis diebus aderant — “O, most bloody sight!” — cum Ioannes McCainus, mavericus et veteranus captivusque Belli Francoindosinini, et Sara Palina, barracuda borealis, qui sneerare amant Baracum Obamam causa oratorii, pillorant ut demagogi veri, Africanum-Americanum senatorem Terrae Lincolni, ad Republicanas rallias.

Rabidi subcanes candidati, pretendant “no orator as Brutis is,” ut “stir men’s blood” et disturbant mentes populi ad “a sudden flood of mutiny,” ut Wilhelmus Shakespearus scripsit.


  1. Anonymous3:23 PM

    erubesco tamen.

  2. Anonymous5:13 PM

    er... rubesco a bit, because I am not at one with you on split infinitives (he said, having read the post beyond the first few blush-inducing words). You cannot sunder that which was not joined in the first place in English.

    I am with Star Trek on this one: you may dare to boldly go if you so wish. It's all a matter of aesthetics, of sound, of sense. There are 'split infinitives' which grate and those which go with the flow. Tmesis is no bad thing. Absobloominlutely!

    PS - Why don't we keep our eyes open instead for an increasingly irritating phenomenon: making the verb agree with the nearest noun? e.g. - The state of their beliefs and their actions are not consistent with each other.

  3. Vae tibi! Sola sum. In fact, miserrima sum in mulieribus.

    Actually, I know the arguments. They just give me a pain. As does the misuse of first person personal pronouns.

  4. Anonymous8:49 PM

    Between you and I.... I'm with you on that one.

  5. This Macaulay guy.... was it me? Or the less ambitious one?

  6. Kenny, translating you into Latin would tax me more than the more ambitious one did!

  7. Anonymous6:11 PM

    Every schoolboy knows that.

  8. Anonymous12:04 AM

    I forgot to say that I've just discovered Vikipaedia latina. Eugepae!!