Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fiet "Lexicon Recentis Latinitas" liber maxime divenditus?

By Aussiegirl

Brush up on that high school Latin, pueri puellaeque, and start reciting your declensions. According to the BBC, the Vatican is not only bringing Latin back into use but is releasing an up-to-date Latin Dictionary -- Legite:

The work, called Lexicon Recentis Latinitas, offers Latin translations for everyday words which originated many centuries after the ancient language went the way of the Romans.
In their day, Rome's rulers might have benefited from a "telephonium albo televisifico coniunctum" - or video telephone - to stay in touch with distant parts of the empire.

Credited with building the world's first roads, the Roman creation has become the bane of the modern motorist's life in what the dictionary calls "tempus maximae frequentiae" - or rush hour.

With the popular pastime of pitting humans against humans - or lions - in the Colosseum a central feature of Roman life, contestants might have found a use for "usus agonisticus medicamenti stupecfactivi" - or taking steroids.

However, gladiators suspected of using performance enhancing drugs might have been investigated by the "publicae securitatis custos internationalis" (Interpol) or even the "officium foederatum vestigatorium" (FBI).


At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Pindar said...

Aussiegirl, you do find the most interesting articles to post, not just about politics but about music, art, language--no wonder yours is my favorite blog! And I'm glad to learn that Latin is still being kept up to date, although I must confess that "telephonium albo televisifico coniunctum" isn't nearly as concise as "video telephone". But Latin, with its endings, can be very concise, as the following story illustrates. Newton had published some piece of mathematics anonymously, and when a contemporary of his read it, he realised that only the genius of Newton could have written such a work, and exclaimed: "ex ungue leonem", i.e. "from the paw [you can recognize] the lion".

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Pindar said...

Before an outraged Latinist takes me to task for misleading a non-Latin speaking audience, let me hasten to correct my comment by stating that "ungue" means "claw" and not "paw" (cf. English "ungual", which means "pertaining to, resembling, or bearing a nail, claw, or hoof"). And I thought I should be more specific in the story's origin, so I went to Google and found that the mathematician Johann Bernoulli, in 1696, posed the following problem, which he challenged the leading mathematicians of the time to solve: Given two points A and B in a vertical plane, what is the curve traced out by a point acted on only by gravity, which starts at A and reaches B in the shortest time.

This problem became known as the brachistochone, meaning "fastest falling." Among those to tackle the puzzle was Isaac Newton, who managed to solve it in under twelve hours! Newton's solution was published anonymously, but Bernoulli wrote that its author was obviously Newton: ex ungue leonem, "from its claw (one recognizes) the lion."


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