Questions for People Who Know More Latin (and Greek) than You Do

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Questions for People Who Know More Latin (and Greek) than You Do

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Dez 9, 2007, 8:33am

I first had "I," rather than "You" in the topic subject line, but switched to "you" as it is more readily understood as inclusive in English. Types of questions:

Can anyone find me a poem -- or was it prose? -- with abundant Latin mixed into a tale of a Coon hunt at night? I read it maybe 15 or 20 years ago and loved it. (I confess: this question is why I posted this topic!)

Has anyone collected the best usages of emblematic proper names, by which I mean Martial using Galena=hen for a woman who clucked from both ends (he had many more but this is the only one I recall, sorry)? What are such names properly called? I recall the English poets used to use them a lot. Has anyone compared their use of them vs that of the classics? (if someone was really into this, a short answer could be followed up by a New Topic on it.

Can Latin use "you" in the loose way of English when it includes the reader with the writer and can be singular or plural? Does any other European language do that? (German from Goette's walk through the woods, I think, so maybe the Germanic ones?).

More commonly, I find myself stuck for a proper way to Latinize something where an online dictionary cannot hack it. I usually pester a friend on-line, but it would be more fun to ask a group. . . Anyway, please find the coon hunt, someone! I am itching to read it again!

Editado: Dez 11, 2007, 11:55am

If I ever read anything about raccoon hunting, it didn't stick. It wouldn't surprise me if an 18th or early 19th century account was liberally sprinkled with Latin. Hopefully someone will come through for you here.

Isn't galena lead ore and gallina a hen? I don't remember that as a woman in Martial. There was Galla, but that's a Gaul; and Gellia, but I always thought that was an ordinary name.

Assuming I haven't completely missed the point, I have seen the term “characterizing name” for ones like Belch or Aguecheek. I bet there's a something-nym word for it, but I can't think of one right now.

Canadian French sometimes uses tu (2nd singular informal) in ways that English uses you as an impersonal pronoun. Standard French has on (syntactically 3rd singular) for this. In informal speech, this has taken over for nous (1st plural). German has the similar man.

In Portuguese, the impersonal is done with a gente, an ordinary common noun meaning 'the people'. The 2nd person singular formal is similarly o senhor / a senhora 'the gentleman / lady'. You can say that in English, but it's beyond formal into the realm of hyper-obsequious tuxedoed-waiter-speak. As I am quite sure you know, all the Japanese “personal pronouns” are really common nouns with a bunch of nuances about situation, register, relationship, etc.

In Spanish, one of the ways of making an impersonal statement is just to use a 3rd plural verb form with no subject expressed at all.

It's quite common for pronouns to have more or less standard uses that don't make “logical” sense. For instance, in English, the royal “we.” Or “you gotta love it” or “it makes you want to scream,” which are statements about the speaker not the person addressed. Or “how are we doing today?” which is only a question about the person spoken to. These tend to be overlapping but not congruent in related languages.

(Updated with touchstone.)

Dez 11, 2007, 8:13am

The mixed latin and english racoon hunt would have been remembered if you read it! Snow and monlight -- i think i may have found it in Richard Lederer's Verbatim? little magazine decades ago.

I just wasted an hour trying to check martial's name for the woman with the loquacious vagina and saw only a note at googlebooks indicating it was in book VII (if i were not exiled from my library i could find it in an instant because i always index interesting stuff within the covers.) I would have been sure about the name's spelling had it been in spanish but i recall it was different -- it is odd that i could not find it on the net with an hour of searching. There would seem to be no constituency for that epigram. If anyone reading has his Epigrams (Loeb is what sits in a warehouse in japan) . . . Maybe it was Polla and i thought to make it something like hen for english-speakers and ... or it could be gallena or something . . .

The Spanish impersonal is a different animal altogether. I am interested in the way pronouns can function in different persons. The JApanese is a bit more complex but, as the second person is not used as the first, when one does this in English in ad copy to include the reader in someone's testimony, it often becomes necessary to give the client an english lesson, for they believe "you" makes the other other. In respect to the English "you," the examples given are usually idiomatic or proverbial and I myself only became aware of how much we use "you" with I in our sentences when translating. I recall giving it much thought when Thoreau sitting on wet stones was soaking up water enough to feel like a sponge and even in such a completely personal situation managed to switch to you . . .

Editado: Dez 11, 2007, 11:04am

Oh, of course. I should have got what you were hinting at, sorry. (Evidently schoolboy days were longer ago than I thought.)

VII 18, the poppysmata cunni 'queef' problem. It's one of the ones to Galla (meaning a woman from Gaul, I believe, but I might be mistaken).

Well, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that an out of copyright edition of the Loeb is in The bad news is that it does the naughty bits into Italian. And even then writes c-o. You've no doubt got a newer, more modern, edition in your library in Japan.

Dez 12, 2007, 8:45am

More on the missing racoon hunt -- it was maybe 2 magazine pgs or 4 bookpages-long as i remember it and it was a masterpiece of playful prose. It caught my attention mainly because i am convinced that the only fast way to become fluent in a language is to read a book started in your language and keep reading as it morphs into the target language. I once made an example that started in english and ended with swedish -- not my swedish but a tale about a golden hamster by Kar de Mummas (sp?) where every sentence had such preternatural rightness (like the lines in Ozu's Tokyo Monogatari) that you can read and remember them easily. (i worked away on swedish freighters for a few months to get back to the West).

The mix of Latin and English is aesthetically so pleasing that I think it serves as a good eg of what the morphing process would be like about 10% in. Someone in the Latin Group must have found it and clipped it out of somewhere!

The loeb martial i had was a rotten direct translation -- it reminded me of many japanese translations of english! -- but saved by having the original next to it . . . maybe kerr trans? (so long as the original is there, i guess i like such direct translations, for i can always improve them myself, but i do not have the latin skills to work from scratch = speaking of which, i did my own version of lesbia's wedgie, one of martial's dirties that has found its way onto the net = there will be half a dozen together in A Dolphin In the Woods) = ah, flash! idea! let me see if i can find joseph salemi (sp?) -- the best wedgie translator -- he would know for sure.

Dez 15, 2007, 4:07pm

You're looking for the macaronic poem "Carmen Possum"!

THE NOX was lit by lux of Luna,
And 'twas a nox most opportuna
To catch a possum or a coona;
For nix was scattered o'er this mundus,
A shallow nix, et non profundus.
On sic a nox with canis unus,
Two boys went out to hunt for coonus.
The corpus of this bonus canis
Was full as long as octo span is,
But brevior legs had canis never
Quam had hic dog; et bonus clever.
Some used to say, in stultum jocum
Quod a field was too small locum
For sic a dog to make a turnus
Circum self from stem to sternus.
Unis canis, duo puer,
Nunquam braver, nunquam truer,
Quam hoc trio nunquam fuit,
If there was I never knew it.
This bonus dog had one bad habit,
Amabat much to tree a rabbit,
Amabat plus to chase a rattus,
Amabat bene tree a cattus.
But on this nixy moonlight night
This old canis did just right.
Nunquam treed a starving rattus,
Nunquam chased a starving cattus,
But sucurrit on, intentus
On the track and on the scentus,
Till he trees a possum strongum,
In a hollow trunkum longum.
Loud he barked in horrid bellum,
Seemed on terra vehit pellum.
Quickly ran the duo puer
Mors of possum to secure.
Quam venerit, one began
To chop away like quisque man.
Soon the axe went through the truncum
Soon he hit it all kerchunkum;
Combat deepens, on ye braves!
Canis, pueri et staves
As his powers non longius carry,
Possum potest non pugnare.
On the nix his corpus lieth.
Down to Hades spirit flieth,
Joyful pueri, canis bonus,
Think him dead as any stonus.
Now they seek their pater's domo,
Feeling proud as any homo,
Knowing, certe, they will blossom
Into heroes, when with possum
They arrive, narrabunt story,
Plenus blood et plenior glory.
Pompey, David, Samson, Caesar,
Cyrus, Black Hawk, Shalmanezer!
Tell me where est now the gloria,
Where the honors of victoria?
Nunc a domum narrent story,
Plenus sanguine, tragic, gory.
Pater praiseth, likewise mater,
Wonders greatly younger frater.
Possum leave they on the mundus,
Go themselves to sleep profundus,
Somniunt possums slain in battle,
Strong as ursae, large as cattle.
When nox gives way to lux of morning,
Albam terram much adorning,
Up they jump to see the varmin,
Of the which this is the carmen.
Lo! possum est resurrectum!
Ecce pueri dejectum,
Ne relinquit back behind him,
Et the pueri never find him.
Cruel possum! bestia vilest,
How the pueros thou beguilest!
Pueri think non plus of Caesar,
Go ad Orcum, Shalmanezer,
Take your laurels, cum the honor,
Since ista possum is a goner!

Editado: Dez 15, 2007, 9:52pm

Veni, vidi, that is it!

On cephalus you hit the nail!
A thank you to dandiffendale.

P.S. Only the author's not explicit
Could any corpus let me know it?

(i forget Latin case endings, so please correct me if cephalus should be cephalum or something else. Or, if there are heads and there are heads, and I have screwed up because a nail would have a capitus, that, too, i would like to know.)

8mas569 Primeira Mensagem
Dez 15, 2007, 10:28pm

Great discussion!

clavus, clavi, m. - nail, and I think a person generally fingit or adfingit clavos.

caput, capitis, n. (but I don't know if one would in capite clavum adfingit, unless one in capite aliae personae clavum adfingeret!)

κεφαλή, ής, ἡ is Greek, unless it shows up as a loan word (and it might, but I haven't seen it).

(this is all from the top of my capitis, so please forgive (and then promptly correct) me if I've made a mistake!)

Editado: Jun 7, 2008, 12:19am

What a shame for a topic which includes the magnificent macarony startng "THE NOX was lit by lux of Luna," to go "dormant" -- since said poem was written by one Carmen Possum, we must assume it will be up again the moment I submit this post!

Recently I have been working like crazy on a book of Japanese kyoka to be called Mad In Translation, and as I try to keep the damn things reasonably risible, I often find myself wishing I knew more Latin! The use of Chinese expressions in Japanese poetry sometimes seems macaronic, though it is harder to draw the line on such matters for Japanese has pretty well adopted Chinese words as is. When the book comes out, I would hope classics scholars who like to kid around will see if they can help me improve it for a second edition . . .

Meanwhile, are there any more macaronic masterpieces out there? Any macaronic haiku? That would be a challenge, huh!

Also, I would like to know the best collection of interesting Latin phrases (with English translations) on line. Then I can play with them and make "O tempore . . ." into "Oh, tempura! etc.

Abr 19, 2009, 4:05pm

"Carmen Possum" is the best I've ever seen. I will offer, however, this little macaronic from Willard Espey's An Almanac of Words at Play.

Very Felis-itous
Felis sedit by a hole,
Intente she, cum omni soul,
Predere rats.
Mice cucurrerunt trans the floor,
In numero duo tres or more,
Obliti cats.

Felis saw them oculis,
"I'll have them," inquit she, "I guess,
Dum ludunt."
Tunc illa crepit toward the group,
"Habeam," dixit, "good rat soup -
Pingues sunt."

Mice continued all ludere,
Intente they in ludum vere,
Tunc rushed the felis into them,
And tore them omnes limb from limb,

Mures omnes, nunc be shy,
Et aurem praebe mihi -
Sic hoc satis - "verbum sat,"
Avoid a whopping Thomas cat

~Green Kendrick

Jun 5, 2009, 3:12am

Thank you, LizzieD, it is felicitous indeed.

MAD IN TRANSLATION is now done (2000 poems 740 pp) and sure enough it did end up with some Latin -- mostly facetious titles -- i never checked and some rhymes on Japanese words that are not recognized in English which i may post here when i find them (i lose things in my own books) -- it is full of things for which i have no name such as an anserine letter in sakura serif. Only a literary critic with a vocabulary many times mine can tell me what i have done . . .

Jul 29, 2010, 1:27pm

This was part of a longer phrase I saw carved into a wall, "semper elit". Always what? Thanks for any help.

Jul 29, 2010, 7:19pm

Hmm, are you sure it wasn't supposed to be "semper erit"?

Editado: Jul 29, 2010, 11:26pm

That's what I was thinking. I can't think of any verbs off the top of my head that would become "elit."

"Semper erit", on the other hand, would mean something like "he/she/it will always be".

Jul 29, 2010, 8:48pm

Hmm, that's a possibility. I'll go back and take another look.

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