Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
More Latin Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted
Just as our Latin Legalese theme was ending, I ran into still another Latin legal term in the daily press. Apparently the universe is giving us a sign that we need still more Latin. Who am I to disregard an omen?

mea culpa – an acknowledgement that one is at fault.
[Latin, "‘by my fault"]
    Teams from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Minnesota Timberwolves to the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer got a head start on giving thanks for the holidays—in the form of open letters to their fans. Many of these cop to just plain old poor play. Below is a composite of some of the best mea culpas that have crossed our desk.
    – Wall Street Journal, Dear Fans, Please Forgive Us, Nov. 25, 2009 (ellipses omitted)
cui bono – [from Cicero; Latin for "who benefits?"] the principle that, to identify the unknown person who is responsibility for an act, likely suspects can be ascertained by ascertaining who has something to gain from it
    They were doubtlessly the target of an intentional leak … . … Who did it and why? The search starts with the answer to this age-old question: Cui bono?
    – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Nov. 7, 2009

    . . ."Look here," he said. "Has it ever occurred to you that it was Penberthy who murdered General Fentiman?"
    . . ."I—wondered," she said, slowly. "But you know they suspect me?"
    . . ."Oh, well—cui bono and all that—they couldn't overlook you. They have to suspect every possible person, you know."
    – Dorothy L. Sayers, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (ellipses omitted)
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
terra incognita – [Latin, "unknown land"] unknown territory
[either literally (unknown land) or figuratively (a new or unexplored field of knowledge)]
    You see, I had spent my working life in an office, in silence … . Now suddenly I was yelling instructions, shouting slogans, exhorting the crowds to repeat after me. This was terra incognita for a person of my background.
    – Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
We fear the unknown. Any terra incognita is by definition a perilous region. It is said the old mapmakers had a phrase to mark a region's danger.

hic sunt dracones – here be dragons

A pity that this phrase isn't used today. What a wonderful metaphor for the scary unknown, like the forest of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Interestingly, though it is said that old maps and globes used this phrase, only a single specimen has been found. Given that, how did this idea of "dragon territory", terra dracones, arise? Perhaps from maps now lost?

Your Wordcrafter may have uncovered another possibility In the Latin Vulgate bible, Psalm 148:7 reads, laudate Dominum de terra dracones et omnes abyssi. The phrase terra dracones is lost in the English translations: those I've checked break it apart by putting punctuation in the middle.¹ I'm no Latin scholar – far from it – but I wonder whether there's authority for such treatment. Can anyone advise?


¹ e.g., King James Bible: Praise the Lord from the earth: ye dragons and all deepes.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
hic sunt dracones – here be dragons

In the phrase here be dragons, the be is in the subjunctive. The Latin is in the indicative. No doubts: "Here are dragons."

The verse laudate Dominum de terra dracones et omnes abyssi would translate as Praise ye, O dragons and all things of the deep, the Lord from the earth. Terra is in the ablative as it is governed by de. Dracones is in the nominative or accusative plural, so it cannot be possessive: the land of the dragons would terra draconum. In Hebrew, dracones is תּנּין tannin.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Junior Member
Picture of KB
posted Hide Post
Ah, I'll have to take your word on the translation into Latin. For all my skills in the language, could say "found a snake in the mud".

Thing is, we've had generations of half-baked scholars like myself, translations made through any number of languages & copied from crabbed writing on one moldy scroll onto another over the years. And somewhere along the line, let loose into folk etymology.

Ah, and didn't the Romans only have the period for punctuation? Fair odds I recall that wrong, but do know Hebrew wasn't even big on vowels, or spaces between words.

Ancient source and modern usage might just differ a bit.

BTW, tannin is Hebrew for dragon? Neat! Here, I'd thought my old D&D character's name was just some random letters I tossed together. (Did like to cast lightning & fire spells, tho.) Big Grin

This message has been edited. Last edited by: KB,
 
Posts: 24Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
Thing is, we've had generations of half-baked scholars like myself, translations made through any number of languages & copied from crabbed writing on one moldy scroll onto another over the years. And somewhere along the line, let loose into folk etymology.

Far enough, except in this case, as wordcrafter pointed out above, we have one example of hic sunt dracones extant, and that is on a 16th century globe.

and didn't the Romans only have the period for punctuation?

Apart from inscriptions, we have very little written Latin from the period in which it was spoken, roughly from the third century BCE until about the sixth century CE. The Romans used a punctuation sign called the interpunctum:

FORTES·FORTVNA·IVVAT

The period (UK English full stop) and the comma were both originally rhetorical terms referring to a sentence and a clause, respectively.

We do have a few examples of non-inscriptional Latin: e.g., some wooden tablets from Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall in the UK, some miltary correspondence and a couple of muster rolls from Syria and environs. Almost all of our MSS of Roman literature are later (Medieval) copies.

Fair odds I recall that wrong, but do know Hebrew wasn't even big on vowels, or spaces between words.

Owing to the nature of Semitic languages, roots are usually triconsonantal, vowels were not written down, though early on the use of some consonants as indicators of vowels developed, the so-called matres lectionis: i.e., aleph was a glottal stop, but it doubled for a, yod was a /j/ but also /i/, and vov was /w/ but also /u/.

tannin is Hebrew for dragon?

It could mean 'dragon, serpent, sea monster, river monster; serpent, venomous snake'. Take your pick.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
Latin, specifically the Latin of Catullus, has been in the news here in the employment tribunal case of a guy accused of trying to kill and humiliate a former employee. He texted the first line of one of Catullus's poems, XVI. ad Aurelium et Furium, which goes "Pedicabo ego uos et irrumabo".

Read more for yourself from one of the blogs published by The Grauniad.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10927 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
Too funny, arnie. I love when newspapers get all innocent about translating a two thousand year old line of poetry (well, maybe not poetry, because Catullus never uses rhyme). Latin had two verbs for blow-job depending on who was doing the sucking and who was get sucked: fello 'to suck, fellate' meant the agent of the verb was using his mouth, and irrumo meant the agent was being fellated. I have seen editions of Catullus and other poets where the "obscene" passages are translated into French. I do like the I'll stuff your gobs for irrumabo vos.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Proofreader
posted Hide Post
quote:
trying to kill and humiliate a former employee

I assume he did the latter before the former.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
Posts: 5987 | Location: Rhode IslandReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
lapsus linguae – [Latin] a slip of the tongue
A less-known phrase is lapsus calami – [Latin] a slip of the pen

As noted yesterday, I'm no Latin scholar. Nonetheless But twice in the last few months I've bumped into a Latin pun while reading, and (and much to my embarrassment) guffawed so loudly that the library patrons gave me dirty looks.

Here's the first, from Sharpe's Trafalgar Bernard Cornwell. The characters, sailing on the open seas, are dining in the captain's cabin.
    . . .… as a stronger wave heaved the ship, one of the plates slipped from Major Dalton's hand to spill its thick slices of pickled tongue onto the linen cloth. "Lapsus linguae," Fazackerly said gravely, and was rewarded with instant laughter.
    . . ."Very good!" Lord William said. "Very good!"
    . . ."Your lordship is too kind," the barrister acknowledged with an inclination of his head.
More on this dinner in a future week.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
sic semper tyrannis – thus always to tyrants
[usually used to mean "death to tyrants". Said to have been uttered by Brutus when he and others assassinated Julius Caesar. John Wilkes Booth shouted this phrase, while fleeing, seconds he fatally shot Abraham Lincoln.]

My second laughed-out-loud Latin pun concerns the Puritans of 1600s New England. Most societies practice contraception. But the Puritans were a contraception exception, with predictable consequences.
    One minister wrote wearily in his diary, "… uxor praegnans est; sic semper uxoribus." Samuel Sewall … recorded the birth of his fourteenth child, and added a prayer, "It may be my dear wife may now leave off bearing."
    – David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America
[uxor = "wife". uxoribus = "wives" or "all wives" or "all our wives"?]
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
[uxor = "wife". uxoribus = "wives" or "all wives" or "all our wives"?]

Latin uxor is the nominative singular for 'wife'; uxoribus is the ablative plural of uxor, so it's 'with wives'. The phrase translates as "thus [it is] always with wives". Same for tyrannus 'tyrant', tyrannis 'with tyrants'.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
magnum opus – a large and important work, esp., a person’s most important work
[Latin, "great work". plural is magnum opuses or opera]

Here used with the ironic sense of wasting time and talent on trivia.
    . . ."But you have retired, Holmes. We heard of you as living the life of a hermit among your bees and your books in a small farm upon the South Downs."
    . . ."Exactly, Watson. Here is the fruit of my leisured ease, the magnum opus of my latter years!" He picked up the volume from the table and read out the whole title, Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen. "Alone I did it. Behold the fruit of pensive nights and laborious days when I watched the little working gangs as once I watched the criminal world of London."
    – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, His Last Bow
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Baldrick: Perhaps your book really isn't any good.

Edmund: Oh, codswallop! It's taken me seven years, and it's perfect. "Edmund: A Butler's Tale" -- a giant rollercoaster of a novel in four hundred sizzling chapters. A searing indictment of domestic servitude in the eighteenth century, with some hot gypsies thrown in. My magnum opus, Baldrick. Everybody has one novel in them, and this is mine.

Baldrick: And this is mine (takes a small piece of paper from the front of his trousers). My magnificent octopus.
 
Posts: 2369Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
Latin, "great work". plural is magnum opuses or opera

The Latin plural of magnum opus is magna opera (at least in the nominative and the accusative). Opus is one of the few Greco-Latin words that gives wannabe pedants a tough time in English. In their snooty attempts to not use a simple English plural form, they often times come up with grammatical absurdities in inflecting the word. for example, opus is oftentimes pluralized as opii, which could only really be the genitive singular of opium, virus as virii (!), ignoramus as ignorami (it's not even a noun in Latin, it's a verb and it's already in the plural number (i.e., first person plural indicative active), etc. I'm not saying these bizarre forms are wrong! Just that to somebody who knows Latin they are terribly amusing, and just a bit sad.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 


Copyright © 2002-12