22 March, 2007


Overheard today: "Caffeine's a stimulator? I thought it was just the carbonation!" Gentlemen—the ASU undergraduate. There's a rich palette of confusion for you.


protinus alter amat, fugit altera nomen amantis

Forthwith the one loves, while the other flees the very word, 'love'.

Metamorphoses I.474

My, a linguification—someone call Geoff Pullum!


Corinthiorum amator iste verborum,
iste, iste rhetor, namque quatenus totus
Thucydides, tyrannus Atticae febris,
tau Gallicum, min et sphin ut male illisit,
ita omnia ista verba miscuit fratri.

— Pseudo-Vergil, Catalepton, II

He's a lover of Corinthian words,
that one, that rhetor—for, being an utter
Thucydides, a lord of the Attic fever,
he evilly ground up his Gallic tau, min and sphin,
mixing all these words for his brother.

Loeb tells us, 'This enigmatic epigram attacks Titus Annius Cimber, a rhetorician who affected the style of Thucydides and is said to have murdered his brother'. It also notes that verba can be translated as both 'words' and 'spells'; for more on language and sorcery, see here. Compare Ausonius on poisoning.


New English words for me this month: beest, 'The first milk drawn from a mammal, especially a cow, after parturition', and guillemet, which refers to these Continental beasts: « »


Perhaps now would be a good time to alert you to Zenoli.


Andrew W. said...

Ah, the guillemet!

I've always wondered why quotes, or er, guillemets, aren't closed in French, when the speaker reference such as "x avais dit" is inside a sentence.

Anonymous said...

Woo, traffic spike! Thanks for the plug, Conrad.

My own notes for March include 'oragious' (tempestuous) and 'skelf' (a sliver of wood, esp. one embedded in the flesh).

That Pseudo-Virgil is nicely poisonous itself. Any definition for 'tau', 'min', and 'sphin'?

Conrad H. Roth said...

My pleasure, Paul. Oragious is nice because it suggests outrageous, though I tend to prefer words that don't readily betray their foreign source.

"Cimber was an archaist, and abbreviated words in the manner of Ennius: thus tau, min, sphin in the epigram are a punning reference to the instruments which he used, not to poison his brother, as has been usually asserted by modern scholars, but to strangle him. He used 'una "corda", cioe... un tau o torus'; 'Min con pronuncia iotacistica è uguale di meniskos "collare"; e sphin può essere abbreviazione di un verbo del tipo sphingo "serrare"'. I can find nothing to indicate that this theory is not seriously intended."

-- E. J. Kenney's review (Classical Review 1962) of Enzo V. Marmorale, Pertinenze e impertinenze.

Andrew W. said...

My latest find is the adjective autark in describing musical motivic structures, found in a score for Anton Webern's Piano Variations.

And thanks to the pair of you, I believe I'm going to have to shell out for that OED CD-ROM and the Chambers! You two should be on their payroll.

Anonymous said...

I'll just warn again against that bloody 21st Century Chambers. To my dismay, I recently discovered that Chambers Online uses the 21st Century as its database. My wife and cats have been disturbed by some loudly shouted Anglo-Saxon epithets as no less than three words that I've tried to look up over the past week have not been available. (Words, may I add, which are in the unmolested original.)

My copies of the proper Chambers Dictionary are mostly 9th edition (2003); the 10th edition (2006) should be safe.