11 January 2014

APPENDIX FRANCISCANA?

It suddenly occurred to me. Do the Holy Father's public utterances, the products of his quite miraculous loquacity, have to be translated into Latin for publication in the Acta? If so, one can see why he moved into the Domus Sanctae Marthae - it was clearly to liberate the Apostolic Palace so as to provide lebensraum there for the waves and cohorts of Latinists who must, like Romanian gypsies, be flocking into Rome, landing at Fiumicino with the two green volumes of the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis in their hot little hands. Mind you, I've so very often found it a rather useless work. It will frequently offer you, as the modern Latin for some modern piece of technology, a circumlocution like "Machina quae facit XYZ". What one really wants is a neat, brief, one-word neologism, perhaps when necessary leaning on Greek, as the Romans so often did. Or perhaps an inspired sudden realisation that there is a word for something very up-to-date, just waiting to be dusted down and brought back into use. This happened to me hours ago. I had just seen something on BBC News about Twenty Much-used Very Modern Words. Among them was the new verb "to Twerk". A definition was given; and at once a penny dropped in my mind. I had recently posted (December 31) about the metre called the Trochaic Tetrameter catalectic. I expect you hung on my every word. I mentioned an unspeakably disgusting Greek dance, found in Athenian Comedy both Old and New, called the kordax. Which seems to be pretty well exactly 'twerking'. Heureka! You don't get much more up-to-the-minute than my blog. Or Nil novi sub ...

And one can relish something really clever: as when the Oxford Public Orator gave us "e-pistula" as Latin for "e-mail".

But the Two Green Volumes will in any case be inadequate to deal with the output of the Holy Father. So much of what he says includes words or phrases which I, at least ... I have had a limited education and led a sheltered life ... have never heard before. What, for example, is a sourpuss? Am I a sourpuss? What do I have to do to become one? Is it an abbreviation of 'sour pussy'? Are Mrs Slocombe's animal preoccupations relevant? Is this an undeserved attack upon Pushkin, the numen loci of the Birmingham Oratory? I have done my best, out of the obsequium religiosum which one owes the Sovereign Pontiff, to survey and comprehend the contextual complexities of this term (I have even looked at the French and Italian versions of Evangelii gaudium, from which cats are mysteriously absent); and I tentatively suggest that the Greek term dyscolos might get the sense. But perhaps you will all tell me that I have Menander too much on my mind. I think you are all sourpusses ... It occurs to me that, more useful to the Vatican translation industry than the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis, would be an Index Verborum, if there is one, covering Juvenal and Martial; Latin writers who seem to have very much our Holy Father's own attractive and engaging instinct for the down-to-earth. These authors ... perhaps with a helping hand from Trimalchio ... and from those gigantic volumes of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum which contain the very ... er ... elemental street graffiti from Pompeii and elsewhere ... could provide the raw materials for what is undoubtedly the current philological opus desideratissimum: the Appendix Franciscana Recentioris Latinitatis.

I suppose I need to get in training for when the Call comes to get to Rome fast in order to join in all this fun. I'm hoping I might be offered a humble little marbled flat in the Palazzo Apostolico with walls frescoed by Michelangelo and overlooking the Piazza di San Pietro. When this happens, you will be very welcome to come and visit me ... ah, but there is a complication. Pam doesn't much like cities. So, in addition, we are going to need a villa in the Alban Hills and the assurance that Roman buses will accept our Senior Citizen Bus Passes.

You don't need to tell me what the Latin for Senior Citizen is because it might tempt you to be rude; but how would one say 'Bus Pass'?

10 comments:

Maximilian Hanlon said...

I believe a Jesuit at one point invented the word "laoferus" (i.e. "people-mover") for "bus." "Bus ticket" would thus be "tessera laoferi."

William Tighe said...


Wouldn't "plebiferus" do better for bus?

Figulus said...

Puss is American slang for "face", a bit dated, if you ask me, and I myself am a bit dated.

A sourpuss is someone with a sour face. To become one, I suppose you could suck on a lemon, and let your face muscles do what is natural, but I expect that the language is metaphorical. It refers to someone who looks that way even without a lemon.

Figulus said...

Puss is American slang for "face", a bit dated, if you ask me, and I myself am a bit dated.

A sourpuss is someone with a sour face. To become one, I suppose you could suck on a lemon, and let your face muscles do what is natural, but I expect that the language is metaphorical. It refers to someone who looks that way even without a lemon.

Sue Sims said...

But since 'bus' is formed from 'omnibus' by aphaeresis, and 'omnibus' is the dative plural of 'omnis' - actually, I'm not sure where one goes from here, except to recall that wonderful poem which all your readers will know:

http://www.poetry-archive.com/g/motor_bus.html

Doodler said...

Apropos of nothing except a suddenly remembered memory from my early Latin days of 60 years ago:

Caesar adsum jam forte.
Brutus aderat.
Caesar sic in omnibus.
Brutus sic in at.

I seem to remember that it was inscribed in my inherited copy of Kennedy's 'Shortbread Eating Primer'.

fr. Thomas said...

Litterae iuris epibatici?

fr. Thomas said...

Litterae iuris epibatici?

Fr Paul Spilsbury SSC said...

I presume "sourpuss" is already a translation of what the Holy Father said in... what? Italian? Spanish? Papa Ratzinger was often berated in the English press for translated words that badly reflected his German original.

Muv said...

Doodler and I are not quite singing from the same hymn sheet:-

Caesar aderat forte
Pompey adsum jam
Caesar sic in omnibus
Pompey sic intram.