24 June 2017

Encaenia UPDATED

Wednesday,21 June, was the  University's annual celebration, Encaenia. Honorary degrees are conferred, and the Oratio Creweiana celebrates the magnificentia and praecellentia of Alma Mater Oxonia. The speeches presenting the graduands are in Latin; and this year we had a new Public Orator, Jonathan Katz, displaying to his public his Latinity for the first time. (He also teaches Greek and Sanskrit; he did not spring upon us the surprise of addressing us in the second of those tongues.) The temperatures here were pretty Texan, and Sir Christopher Wren forgot to install air conditioning in the Theatrum Sheldonianum ... 

The Creweian Oration, nowadays, is in English. Last year, when Mr Orator Jenkyns was doing his last stint of duty, he asked the Chancellor for the customary permission to use the vernacular for this Oration: Honoratissime et Insignissime Cancellarie, licetne Anglice loqui? And the Chancellor, with feigned irritation, and no small delay, eventually murmured Hoc ultimo tempore, licet. This year, back to just licet.

An Englishwoman; a Scotswoman; four American males; one American female. Such were our honorands this year. I am fearful that, in the years to come, outside Europe, we shall become more and more of an American dependancy, in cultural, academic, political, economic, trading, terms. I was never blind to the failings of the European project; I just hoped it might protect us from ...  alternatives ...

Shirley, Baroness Williams, was one of the Gang of Four who split the British Labour Party a generation ago. Since her gender is unambiguous, I wondered how apt was the Latin Societas Quattuorvirorum. Quaterna cohors? Quaternum Latrocinium? 

One of the things I dislike about the Vatican's Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis is its preference for circumlocutions. Machina quae facit x y z ... that sort of thing. Cumbersome. So I did not much like Mr Orator Katz's librorum per aethera legendorum saeculum for "the e-book era". I prefer coinages: Mr Orator Griffin very wittily did e-mail by e-pistula. I am sure readers will be able to contrive neologisms for e-book.

Caeliscalpium for Sky-scraper, I did rather like.


5 comments:

John Fannon said...

Given that many technical terms stem from either Latin or Greek, it should not be difficult to invent neologisms for modern terms. Reginald Foster was interviewed by the BBC over 20 years ago during an hour long talk on Latin for Radio 3. Foster translated 'zip fastener' as 'occlusorium fulmineum' if I remember rightly. On a slight tangent it is good to see that light bulbs outputs are labelled in lumens. Whenever I see the light bulb section in the supermarket, the words 'lumen Christi' come into my mind.

Banshee said...

Why does the guy think people are only reading ebooks by streaming over WiFi? (I assume that is what he is implying with "aethera".)

Pastor in Monte said...

My cousin, an accomplished Irish speaker and teacher, asserts that one of the principal signs of a language that is living is its ability to absorb loan-words. I think he is right. The inkhorn words in official Latin; 'umbella decensoria' for parachute, 'polybolus' for machine gun, and, incredibly, 'hamaxostichus' for train are ridiculous. Surely it would have been better to take the common words in Italian and give them a Latin case and ending; perhaps 'paracaduta'; 'mitragliatrix', 'trenus'. Rather than trying to locate each element of the word in a Latin root, it would be better to absorb the foreign word which is at least comprehensible. And thus show the language to be alive.

vetusta ecclesia said...

If you can access it look for the wonderful circumlocution used to express the idea that King Juan Carlos appeared on television and saved the state in the oration for that king's DCL by Diploma.

John Vasc said...

I realize this is not to your point, Father, but really: Shirley Williams? An honorary degree?? From Oxford???

Then perish, Satire: Irony is dead,
All Laughter fails, and Wit must bow his head.