Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sona si latine loqueris!

I'm sitting here posting while surrounded by boxes. The moving van is coming in about twenty-five minutes. I'm looking for the perfect Latin phrase to describe my predicament, because it's a lot more fun than actually dealing with the move.

People always said Latin was a dead language, but when I was a kid, there were people who still spoke it. They tended not to have kids and pass it on because they were priests and Cardinals. I'm not saying that none of them had kids, but I suspect if they did, they kept quiet about it and didn't have a lot to do with the kid's education. The Synod of Bishops stopped being in Latin in 1999 but the current Pope is fluent in it and Vatican documents are still issued in it. There is a person at the Vatican whose job it is to decide what the official Latin term is for stuff that wasn't around when Latin was still spoken at home over the family dinner table. (The Latin for 'spaceship' is astronavis, and for 'jumbo jet' the term is aeronavis capacissima. I'm sure there are Latin words for cell phone and fax machine as well.)

I went to Catholic school from second to sixth grade and although much of the experience was unfortunate, it did instill a belief that there was something about Latin. Grad school classes in Medieval Lit reinforced my belief. Really, really smart people spoke Latin. It proved one was classically educated. I never actually studied Latin. I was told it would help my spelling but I think my spelling is pretty much beyond help. Still, I am way more amused by a site with useful Latin phrases than I probably should be. I just really like the idea of being able to say, in Latin, 'I'm not interested in your dopey religious cult.' Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione.

Unfortunately, even after I try to commit a phrase to memory, I forget. So I'm off to buy doughnuts for the movers.

1 comment:

Madeleine Robins said...

Maureen! We welcome your Brain (especially when you're in the middle of moving).

I took Spanish and French, with the very modern American result that I am fluent in neither. My older child took two required years of Latin in middle school, but is now taking French (which she says the Latin helped with). Claire Eddy's son, who went to the same middle school as Sarcasm Girl, is now fluent enough in Latin to be winning medals in it.

I do love the idea of a dedicated Vatican employee whose job is to figure out Latin terms for new coinage. Wonder how they fit that on a business card.