Re: Noli te transferre*, for Caesar you ain't

1

how would you correctly spell "congruisse"?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:45 PM
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Translating surnames into Latin was actually pretty common back in the day. "Kramer" > "Mercator" etc.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:46 PM
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I would spell it "congruisse". If I wanted to misspell it, I might choose to do so by spelling it "congruissse", as is done in the article.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:46 PM
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2: I know. But so was not using much in the way of punctuation.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:47 PM
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Oh, Christ. I hadn't realized the damn thing was *in* Latin, too. It's probably not his that "congruisse" turned up with 3 s's (esses?). I defer to him on how he wants to translate his name. These things -- translations -- will never map perfectly on to one another.
These "living Latin" people are a law unto themselves. Seriously, they have meetings and conferences and come up with new rules.
What's your problem with the "aeterna" sentence, or rather, clause? You're right that it is a substantive -- "eternal things concerning which the Romans are able to teach us a lot" would be my hyperliteral translation.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:50 PM
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5: Should be "his fault."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:50 PM
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5: cum rhetorica exigua, moribus infirmis, grammatica inepta et rationis historicae metu congruissse fors non est; eterna de quibus Romani nos multum docere possunt. is, as far as I know, and subbing in the English where uncontested, "it is no accident that it coincided with weak rhetoric, shifting moral values, clumsy grammar and a terror of historical reference, eternal things about which the Romans are able to teach us much". So the Romans can teach us about: weak rhetoric, etc, and weak rhetoric, etc, are eternal.

The English, "during an age of weak rhetoric, shifting moral values, clumsy grammar and a terror of historical references and eternal values that the Romans could teach us a thing or two about.", says pretty plainly that the Romans can teach us a thing or two about eternal values.

That is completely different!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:55 PM
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3--
yeah, the version with 'sss' seems like a pretty good misspelling.
okay, my fault for not following. but at least now i understand why 'congruisse' didn't look bad to me.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:57 PM
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Oh wait. There is something kind of weird in that sentence. In the Latin version the "aeterna" clause is emphatically not (as in, you don't even need to know Latin, just look at the semi-colon) a part of the list of "bad things." So the Latin phrase would better translate as " . . . and a terror of historical references; eternal matters about which . . .". Weird.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:57 PM
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7: We crossed there with my 9. But yeah.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 8:58 PM
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Weird.

That is weird, especially since the Latin makes more sense than the English. Did he mistranslate his own Latin composition?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:01 PM
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The English actually makes more sense as "an age . . . that the Romans could teach us a thing or two about" but there's no way the Latin could mean that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:02 PM
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Maybe the English is meant as in 12 and the translation is meant to be rather loose.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:03 PM
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The Latin is in fact more plausible than the English, but I would bet that in the mind of someone who writes an NYT op-ed in Latin about how we should all learn Latin, the English seems more plausible than the Latin. I would also bet a fair sum that the English was written first and translated into Latin.

Those Romans, they had some eternal values, yup! Like incest.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:03 PM
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11: Yeah. That is exactly right. I wonder if he did write it in Latin first. I find it hard to believe he could fuck up like that. I bet the Times made an editing mistake in not separating the "eternal values" from the "bad things."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:04 PM
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I don't see why you think that the English doesn't make much sense, teo.

What doesn't make sense is your proposal in 12; how could the English possibly mean that?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:05 PM
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I don't see why you think that the English doesn't make much sense, teo.

It makes sense, it just isn't very logical or coherent. Our age has all these bad things, but it also has eternal values that the Romans could teach us about? What?

What doesn't make sense is your proposal in 12; how could the English possibly mean that?

Easily; what's the problem?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:10 PM
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The English and Latin are so very different that there is a flat out mistake by someone somewhere. My bet is that the Times editors screwed up punctuating that list in the English. I mean, disregarding the punctuation in the Latin version -- the "aeterna" cannot be governed by the "metu" like the genitive "rationis historicae" is. 5 will get you 10 they run a correction.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:12 PM
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What? No, our age has these bad things:

(weak rhetoric), (shifting moral values), (clumsy grammar) and (a terror of (historical references and (eternal values that the Romans could teach us a thing or two about))).

The Romans can teach us about the eternal values. We, these postmodern days, are terrified of even any mention of them.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:14 PM
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It really seems like they must have screwed up the punctuation of one or the other, but it's not clear to me which one. Either way, it's really weird.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:14 PM
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19: Ah, okay. I hadn't thought of parsing it that way, but it does make sense.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:14 PM
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Easily; what's the problem?

It strains credulity to imagine the "that" reaching that far back.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:15 PM
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See, oudemia in 18 gets the story. (There's also a missing word for "values" in the Latin.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:16 PM
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The parsing I meant in 12 was: an age of ((weak rhetoric), (shifting moral values), (clumsy grammar) and (a terror of (historical references and eternal values))) that the Romans could teach us a thing or two about.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:17 PM
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As oudemia points out, that parsing obviously doesn't work for the Latin, but neither does the one in 19.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:18 PM
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Wait no. We cannot have a terror of eternal values. Or am I not getting your parentheses system? "Aeterna" ain't genitive. Also, look at the word order in the Latin, with it coming fully after the "congruisse fors non est." There is no way, in the Latin, that it is part of that list. Different clause.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:18 PM
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We're parsing the English, not the Latin.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:18 PM
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Oh ok. You weren't talking to me in 19.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:19 PM
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Surely you can't do that? Surely? The only ways I could accept something meaning that would be: "an age that the Romans could teach us a thing or two about, of ..." and "an age of ..., an age that the Romans could ...".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:19 PM
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My Latin isn't great, but if the Church can develop words for 'banana' and 'computer', surely 'artem' can be extended to 'professionalization of politics.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:19 PM
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29: It's grammatical (though somewhat awkward) for me. YMMV.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:21 PM
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32

30: Yes, that is right, I think.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:21 PM
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My undergrad specialty in Latin America would seem to be of service here, yet I am at a loss. Clearly a sign I attended a low-rent public U.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:22 PM
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...I know that there are plenty of capable Latinists hanging around,; too many, in fact, to enumerate.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:23 PM
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Just for the sake of completeness, the parsing that I was having trouble with was:

an age of ((weak rhetoric), (shifting moral values), (clumsy grammar) and (a terror of historical references) and (eternal values that the Romans could teach us a thing or two about)).

That doesn't make any sense, but ben's parsing in 19 does and is probably what Mount meant.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:23 PM
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26, 28: My latin's not that bad.

surely 'artem' can be extended to 'professionalization of politics.'

I object, in principle, to "ars" meaning both profession and professionalization. If there isn't a handy analogical scheme to go from "ars" to something meaning "professionalize", use a phrase like "the becoming a profession of politics". (Fiendum artem reipublicae? Here I really am uncertain.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:24 PM
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My undergrad specialty in Latin America would seem to be of service here, yet I am at a loss.

It does serve to nicely illustrate the point that seems to escape these spoken-Latin types, which is that Latin is in fact still spoken, in several dialects.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:25 PM
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38

Thanks, duckface.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:25 PM
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39

We could figure out if the problem is with the English or the Latin by looking at more than one paragraph of the essay. If we wanted to.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:26 PM
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40

You had better fucking believe my mileage varies.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:26 PM
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36: Yeah, I was very confused then. Sorry.

I leave these spoke Latin types entirely to their own (incendiary) devices.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:28 PM
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39: I -- congenially! -- refuse to do that, but feel nearly certain the problem has to be with the English since the Times editors could easily fuck that up through editing, but simply wouldn't know enough to mess with the Latin in the same way. Also, the Latin makes more sense.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:30 PM
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43

I can't understand a single thing in this thread and it's still more entertaining than the debate over what gun to buy for Gary.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:31 PM
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I still think the English makes just as much sense as the Latin and is probably what Mount actually thinks.

Why should we think that a terror of historical references, or weak grammar, are things about which the Romans have much to teach us?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:34 PM
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44: Because he is a dork that thinks the Romans can teach us everything. Just pragmatically, the editors wouldn't dare touch the Latin (I'd bet), and thinking, not unreasonably that wacky Latin man could think what the English version ended up saying, substituted an "and" for a semi-colon that isn't strictly grammatically correct.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:39 PM
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46

But that kind of dork is precisely the kind who would think that what the Romans have to teach us are the eternal values that would help us cope with the bad things that plague us today!

And if you replace the "and" in the English with a semicolon, what you get is a claim that bad grammar, shitty rhetoric, and terror are eternal values. That makes no sense.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:41 PM
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That is, you have to account not just for the change in punctuation, but the shift from "aeterna", eternal things, to "eternal values".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:44 PM
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And if you replace the "and" in the English with a semicolon, what you get is a claim that bad grammar, shitty rhetoric, and terror are eternal values. That makes no sense.

But that's (almost) exactly what the Latin says! And it's totally clear and unambiguous!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:45 PM
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49

bad grammar, shitty rhetoric, and terror are eternal values

Must all values be positive?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:45 PM
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50

O tempora! O mores! Oy vey!

What the Romans have to teach us is that cruel tyranny works. (For values of "works" that I find unacceptable.)

Oh and that roads & aqueducts are good.

Crucifixion?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:45 PM
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51

47: Okay, fair enough, but why is he even talking about weak rhetoric etc. if he doesn't think the Romans can help us with it?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:47 PM
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But that's (almost) exactly what the Latin says! And it's totally clear and unambiguous!

It is not even close to what the Latin says, and (JM) "terror of historical examples" is not a value.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:47 PM
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46: Well, you're right and this is just baffling. The English and the Latin are fully different, but both make sense in their own way. So there is a big mistake here, but just what is elusive. I mean, the Latin is deliberately different from the English. It makes its own sense and is not simply a mistake in translation. I guess it is possible that the Times editors added "values" as a substitute of something more neutral on the idea that they knew what he meant.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:49 PM
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It is not even close to what the Latin says

Okay, the Latin says they're "eternal [things]" rather than "values," but the rhetorical structure is exactly the same.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:49 PM
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51: presumably he thinks that the reading of Cicero, say, will improve our rhetoric, but not because Cicero teaches us about impoverished rhetoric.

It's not so simple as moving some punctuation around, at the least.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:49 PM
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49: That is the question.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:49 PM
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I guess it is possible that the Times editors added "values" as a substitute of something more neutral on the idea that they knew what he meant.

This sounds reasonable to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:50 PM
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I think we're in agreement that both the English and the Latin make sense and express the same underlying sentiment, but in unaccountably different ways.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:52 PM
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I don't think they express the same sentiment.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:54 PM
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58: Yeah, it's my bedtime, but dollars to donuts some editor fucked with the English.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:54 PM
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59: Yes, I think they're different, too. Maybe I will email the guy.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 9:56 PM
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OK, I am a giant dork, but I just want to emphasize that there is a precision and deliberateness that would have to go into his translation into Latin that forces me to think that the Latin version has to be "what he really means." Combine that with the ease with which editors could transform the English version and we start, I think, to get at the problem.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 10:00 PM
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I don't think they express the same sentiment.

So what's the difference?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-07 10:07 PM
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64

So is this a case of Quidquid Latine Dictum Sit, Altum Viditur or does this guy actually has something interesting to say, dodgy grammar and all?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 12:42 AM
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I don't like artem reipublicae whatever it's supposed to mean: it needs a gerundive, such as artem reipublicae ducendae, or it doesn't mean much.

Is he trying for classicism? Because if so, he's missing badly. ...considerare excitat would do in neolatin, but if he thinks he's being Ciceronian he needs a subjunctive clause. I'm not at all sure what the rest of that sentence means, but I'm inclined to agree with those who suggest it actually says that the ills he describes are the eternal verities we can learn from the Romans (true enough, historically, but that's another question). It's incredibly awkwardly phrased - sticking est at the end of a long sentence betrays absolute lack of familiarity with normal usage, and I suspect he was told at the age of 11 that the verb goes last and has regarded it as an unalterable rule ever since (it's a guideline, and it doesn't apply to esse anyway).

Pah!


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 4:13 AM
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I understood the quibus to refer to rhetorica/mores/grammatica/metus, rather than aeterna; i.e., "about these things (rhetoric, etc.) the Romans can often teach us things of enduring value." But yeah, I see no way to get from the English version to the Latin, or vice versa, however it's construed.

And transfero 'translate'/translatio 'translation' may be less common, but it's good classical (my lexicon cites examples in Cicero and Quintillian).


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 7:33 AM
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56 to 50.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 7:40 AM
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66: I like that, potchkeh, but then the word order is weird, I think. But honestly, we're reading a guy named Harry and not a guy named, say, Marcus Tullius, so why should his word order mean a thing to me? Ugh. I'm a Hellenist. I don't have to read Latin anymore.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 9:01 AM
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Seventeen year-old Latin student, much amused, dropping by to wonder if anyone had read the rest of the article in Latin?

Because "cur bonum est?" for "why is this a good thing?" and especially "cur non linguam Latinam in lingua Anglica legas?" for "why not just study all this in English?" don't sound like awkward English out of clearly composed Latin to me.


Posted by: Tiny Latinist | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 2:27 PM
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69: I haven't read the whole thing, but based on your excerpts there, I'd say you were right. Wow. Good catch. Those both seem really (oddly) clumsy to me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 3:20 PM
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Romanes eunt domus?


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 3:31 PM
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72

Oudemia, is your surprise at the clumsiness based on prior familiarity with the author?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 6:55 PM
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I'm disappointed that this comment thread isn't being conducted in latin. The roman have much to teach us about venal gimmickry, clearly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 6:56 PM
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Comments in Latin mocking people who advocate the use of Latin would be richly ironic even by our standards.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 6:58 PM
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72: Not really -- more my naiveté, I guess. The guy has a cottage industry in "living Latin" books. If I were going to put my name on a chunk of Latin prose in the NYTimes -- even moreso than English prose -- that thing would be proofread and double checked six ways to Sunday. But "cur bonum est" for "why is this a good thing," while not wrong, is ham fisted and lacking grace -- a Wheelock Ch. 1 sentence.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 7:02 PM
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71: Romani ite domum.
You made my day!


Posted by: magistra | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 7:39 PM
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77

but, but, but ... the Romans, of all people, professionalized politics, with a career track and everything.

I liked me Latin classes, but this is ridiculous.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 12- 4-07 10:26 PM
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78

Just wondering: magistra = Mrs. Syphax?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:33 AM
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78: ita vero.
77: You're right, the cursus honorum is the epitome of the professionalization of politics. It would appear that Henricus Mons hasn't read Cicero's Thoughts on Political Campaigns when he waxes nostalgic about the politicians of Rome. Further, while some of today's political speeches are characterized by inept grammar, they are not necessarily devoid of rhetorical devices, particularly hyperbole, litotes, and anaphora.(Personally, I'd like to see a bit more preterition, but that's just a personal preference.) As for "rationis historicae metu" , I would argue that the current administration has done an excellent job of (misusing) historical references to further their own misguided objectives.


Posted by: magistra | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:55 AM
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80


Magistra, what of your great love of zeugma?


Posted by: syphax | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:16 AM
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81

I adore a well-placed zeugma myself.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:21 AM
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82: Oh, definitely a second vote for preteritio. I'm not even going to go into how great I think preteritio is.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:52 AM
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83

Whoops. Meant 79. Not me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:52 AM
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