4 July 2021

Doctor Diggle's Dictionary (4)

I wonder if the new Cambridge Lexicon of Classical Greek, the Diggle "f**k and s**t and unVictorian" dictionary, might have a broad cultural ambition. (Conspiracy Theory Trigger Warning.) Might it be part of a sinister policy of linguistic indoctrination? Is it intended to offer a paradigm for how, in Cambridge Combination Rooms, one should address visiting foreign savants? "Welcome to Cambridge, Dr Beineinstein! If you need to have a pre-prandial s**t, it's just down that passage on the left."

Or are things the other way round? Perhaps the would-be visiting academic is himself supposed to become fluent in Tabspeak before his arrival: "Welcome to Cambridge, Dr Beineinstein!"  "I urgently need q***k f**k."  "Ah ... our Chaplain Reverend Mandy offers counselling in Relationship Issues ..."  "She give me q***k ... ?"  "Um I'm sure that up to a point um ... permit me to introduce you um ..." .

But enough of crude fantasy.

On the Internet, Dr Diggle generously offers a specimen page or two of his lexicon. The letter Mu.


Yes; I did exactly what you would have done. 

I looked up malakos.

In I Corinthians ... a book I have taught several times as an examination set text ... great fun to teach ... we find (I Cor 6:9) one of those extensive and Highly Inclusive lists of categories of people who will not have the Beatific Vision forced upon them. One of these categories is malakoi. Literally, 'softs'. Both Vulgates translate molles. AV and Knox effeminates. NRSV and NIV male prostitutes. JB catamites. NKJ homosexuals. RSV and REB lump it together with the next word, arsenokoitai, and render them both together by sexual perverts. GNB narrows that down: homosexual perverts

Nobody seems to have thought of translating it rent-boys. And ... amusing, isn't it ... yes, I heard you giggling ... Tee Hee, as the ladies among you are probably saying ... amusing how many of those translations are nowadays extremely politically incorrect. Indeed, they are, frankly, not lexicographically correct, either, and could justly be considered offensive. Just for this one moment, I'm not joking.

So, full of eager anticipation, I turned to Diggle, sub voce malakos, expecting to find something as down-to-earth, as raw, as shocking, as unVictorian, and as robustly vernacular as s**t and f**k. The sort of thing Grauniad readers, those boors of Politically Correctitude, would get their teeth into. Poofs, perhaps. Or pansies. You know the sort of verbum nefandum I mean.

'Fraid not. This is what I find: "(pejor.) soft, weak, effete ... effeminate, unmanly ..." 

Time, I fear, to return to fantasy.

Imagine the following scene: some Tab footie spectators are shouting crude and unacceptable abuse at a visiting footie team. The non-classicists among them, a nasty lot, are probably howling "Pansies!" "Woofters!" vel similia. I hope the Proctors get them, if Cambridge still has Proctors. If anyone ever deserved to be progged ... I wonder if any reader of this blog is old enough to have been progged ...

But from Dictionary Corner, dear decent Dr Diggle and his docile disciples, lexicons in hand, will be decorously declaiming "Effete!" "Unmanly!".

Writing about so distinguished a scholar, I will not end without the sincerest congratulations and my very best wishes. Cautissime, Domine, caces! Faustissime futuas! Barbam fuge!



Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Downunder, our "university police" tend to be uniformed somewhat in tbe manner of the constabulary or security guards. Our Yeomen Bedell(s?) nevertheless dress the part in caps and gowns (that is, on the few occasions when they are visible).


Frugifex said...

Sed quomodo poterunt, sine hoc dictionario, carmina attica in quodam fornice nigro, putri carbone scripta, cacantes intellegere?

Grant Milburn said...

There once was a Doctor named Diggle,
Whose lexicon's really a giggle.
It has words like ****,
He's a regular wit,
More fun than the funnest Marsh-wiggle.

There once was a Doctor named Liddell,
(Whose daughter solved many a riddle
That Carroll would set her)
Who said "Diggle's better,
So my work is now second fiddle."

PM said...

Rent boys who do it as a lifestyle choice (to use that ugly modern expression) would indeed fall under the Apostle Paul's stricture. But I suspect that Our Lord would be more merciful towards the members of the poorer classes in the good old bad old days who plied their trade out of economic necessity and were in danger of arrest, than he would be towards the gents who exploited them and would be let off with an informal, off-the-record police warning (or, if they were Guy Burgess, be recruited into MI 5).