7 December 2019

Mindgames (4) Spot the Latin Howler

Today, I offer you a real de luxe corker: part of the homily attached to the propers for Padre Pio. Presumably, the Howler-wallah is the poor fellow who was tasked with translating a text from the pen of the Saint from Italian into Latin (or did S Pius himself preach/write in this ungrammatical Latin?). In what follows, no fewer than three words (I think I would actually argue, five) have fullest Megahowler status. As the young people who wait upon us in restaurants nowadays so cheerfully say, Enjoy!!!!

Anima quaeque ad aeternam destinata gloriam se optime lapis ad aedificium aeternum erigendum constituta definire potest. Structori aedem erigendum quaerenti optime primum lapides ipsam exstructuras expolire oportet. 

You will also have noticed some oddish constructions ('aedem erigendum quaerenti'?) .

Elsewhere in the Homily, our friend writes 'expoliatione' ('denuding', give or take an s) where he means 'expolitione' (polishing) and (a regular mistake when Eye Ties type Latin) "cum Sancto Spirito". 


Wynn said...

My 5 would be:
lapis –> lapidem
constituta –> constitutum
structori –> structorem
quaerenti –> quaerentem
exstructuras –> exstructuros

Stephen v.B. said...

Where to begin?

1.) I strongly doubt that this (attributive) use of quaeque is correct here; omnis anima, more likely.

2.) se ... definire potest looks like an inept 'translation' of the Italian 'si passivante', i.e. si può definire. The passive infinitive definiri should have been used, although perhaps definire may not be the right verb altogether.

3.) lapis ... constituta is a howler indeed, the noun lapis being masculine. One thinks of the 'Lapis Niger', the 'Lapis Satricanus' and so on.

4.) aedem erigendum is just as bad - aedes being a feminine noun, the gerundive should end in -am - but apart from that, the syntax seems to have gone completely astray here. The verb quaerere, in the sense of 'seeking, striving', can be completed by an infinitive, but not by a gerundival clause such as this (which would require the preposition ad, moreover). A complete mess.

5.) That second optime seems to have lost its way a bit.

6.) lapides ... exstructuras: wrong gender again, see 3.)

7.) Finally, the impersonal oportet requires an (accusative-and-)infinitive as its subject, so I suppose that the 'builder' should have been in the accusative all along: structorem ... quaerentem.

Rather dispiriting, all of this...

Martin said...

1. oportet takes the accusative
2. aedes is feminine
3. lapis is masculine

Andreas Meszaros said...

Mira qui struunt arte monumenta, verborum structuram ignorant.

Unknown said...

Whoa. I taught Latin for more than 40 years at all levels, and remain intermittently flummoxed by the lingering difficulties of idiom and lexical polysemy in that language. But I think the five howlers you allude to were pretty easy to spot and astonishingly basic. Here's a rewrite, with the corrected words in caps:

Anima quaeque ad aeternam destinata gloriam se optime LAPIDEM ad aedificium aeternum erigendum CONSTITUTUM definire potest. (Each soul destined for eternal glory can define itself best as a stone placed to raise an eternal edifice.)

Structori aedem ERIGENDAM quaerenti optime primum lapides IPSOS EXTRUENDOS expolire oportet. (It is required for a builder seeking to erect a temple in the best way first to polish those very stones intended to be heaped up.) Mostly elementary case and gender mistakes, but I suppose EXTRUENDOS is the correction of a double-howler: unless we're dealing here with an idiom that eludes me, the future participle should be passive, not active.

Wynn said...

I took ipsam to refer to aedem, not (as "Unknown" does) to be a misgendered and misnumbered reference to lapides.

I was tempted to add "erigendum –> erigendam" to my list of five, but then wondered whether it couldn't be taken to be a gerund rather than a gerundive. Not saying that would be remotely idiomatic; but then poor idiom is the very least of the problems of this passage.

Pulex said...

Like Stephen v. B. wrote, better "erigere querenti".