Linguistics

Ok. I’m going to try to move some ‘comments’ to a new venue.

272 Comments

  1. Andrew_W

    An odd passage. Context: Publius and father are having many converstations while they stroll in the garden. They have, not ONE conversation, but many. Then the following happens,

    Corneliam ad se vocat. Picturam pili et scuti monstrat.

    I get that Conerial calls to them. And, then something happens regarding the showing of …pili et scuti…. The meaning of Picturam here is eluding me. From the context I would think that Cornelia wants Pubilus to demonstrate for her his Shield and Pilum work. But the statement, Picturam pili et scuti monstrat. is not a question and not in quotes. She isn’t saying this. She isn’t asking a question. It appears she is doing something. But if I translate literally I get,

    She shows him a painting of his pilum and shield.

    and that makes no sense. It is a non-sequitor that leaves me looking in my Thesaurus for pigeons under rocks again.

    Oh, and the Pilum “pili” is a very specialized type of Roman throwing spear not just a generic spear. Really ugly thing to use on an opposing battle line. Each “miles” would carry three into battle. It would have been appropriate to use plurals here.

  2. BlueCatShip

    Andrew, what’s the link to the PDF you’re using, again, please? My curiosity is piqued; I’d like to try that.

    Pictoram…. That looks more like “painter,” or one who paints/draws, with the -am being an object case ending, the “to/at” form (dative, if I recall dative vs. accusative right).

    But just as a possibility, what’s the word for pike, piker, pikeman, or pick, pick-axe?

    Then there are the Picts, a group of Celts/Gaels in either present-day Scotland or Ireland, IIRC.

    However…I’m looking at it again, looking for the word-forms and sentence structural possibilities, and then meanings from there.

    One thing to keep in mind: English has changed its usual sentence patterns slightly too, over the last few centuries of Modern English (KJV and Shakespeare to present). There were older patterns that were more poetic or literary or educated, that stayed on in literature or advanced usage, but became less and less used until now, they’re fairly rare in speech.

    That happened in Latin too. There was a learned literary form (Classical) and a more common form (eventually various flavors of Vulgar (Common) Latin). The “Vulgar” (Common) Latin sounded too “poor” and “uneducated” to the well-off, better educated people, and the written forms would have sounded older and a bit more, hmm, flowery or pretentious, to the more “modern” or less well-off people.

    But ultimately, yes, Latin and English have enough in common because they are language-cousins. During the time prior to the B.C. to A.D. calendar flip, there was “Common Germanic,” reconstructed or conjectured, not really recorded. The Romans began running into the Germanic tribes, even trading some, and recorded their impressions of them. Already, by then, there were likely many tribal languages or dialects, not a single language, just like the Latins had neighboring tribal flavors of Italic languages.

    Around the time of the fall of Rome, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes colonized Britain, either by request or conquest or both, and the Bretons who didn’t stay wound up in Bretagne. These Anglo-Saxons had several things going on in their Old English that were very different from their German and Dutch close cousins / brothers and sisters, so they were already separate somewhat.

    What that means grammatically, is that the Anglo-Saxons / Old English had sentence structures and word forms much more similar to Latin, but with several distinctly Germanic patterns instead. (Especially different are how we deal with the third-person pronoun system and prepositions together with verbs or nouns.)

    So those older sentence patterns go backward in time through Shakespeare and King James back to Chaucer and then back to Beowulf and company. What we have at present is a mix of half Saxon English, half Norman French, plus some Viking Danes, with a bagful of Latin and Greek, and then after Columbus and then the Enlightenment, many bags full of words from all around the world. But that basic structure goes back to the Angles and Saxons from somewhere in northwestern Germany and the Netherlands and Denmark.

    “Scuti,” huh? Scuti, escutcheons ~=~ sceald, shield.

  3. BlueCatShip

    Oh, duh! That was “picturam,” not “pictoram,” so it has to be something about a picture, painting, drawing.

    How about this, for context? Cornelia has gussied up Publius’ shield by painting it for him, probably some fine fierce Roman martial motif, in the paint pigments they had available then.

    It’s also entirely possible she’s painted a portrait or a mural of Publius bravely using his pili and scutus (-um? -am? -eum? -eam?) to fight off some barbarian opponents, showing off his skills and muscles. Sort of “Uncle Sam Wants You!” or “Go, Team!” for the Roman era. Hey, these days, he’d be in military fatigues or a football jersey, betcha. Having your sister or sweetheart paint fan art? Hey, nice! LOL. (Might scare off the local rivals/thugs.) (Might attract the girls (guys?) too.)

    Hmm, might want to inspect that painting later. Publius’ ex or those jealous rivals might have scribbled in a few less than complimentary “commoner speech” phrases, rather more salty/spicy than for mixed company.

  4. Andrew_W

    Here is a parenthetical comment about the equipage of the “miles” who is the brother of the farmer in Cornelia. It is a good example of someone who never really studied the stuff they wrote about.

    (Pilum est longum; gladius est latus. Scutum
    militem tegit; galea caput militis tegit.)

    Yes the pilum is long, but who cares! You throw it at the bad guys. It’s designed as a throw away one use weapon. (A weakness was designed into the long head of the pilum so that when it went through something it would bend over and be impossible to remove.)
    And, yes the gladius is broad, all swords of the day were broad. It’s distinguishing features were that it was short! and in some legions you were forbidden by regulation to put an edge on it. It was a thrusting sword and woe betide the legionnaire who tried to hack with it. Yes the Scutum covers the soldier and the helmet covers the head.

    I need to do some homework. Given all the other oddities about these technical issues I am now wondering if galea might have a more specific meaning than merely “helmet” or more properly “helm”.

    It would seem that galea is, in fact, a generic name for “helmet”. I just googled it. There are several re-enactor outfits out there who play with duplicating the various legions. The study and care these guys put into their work is amazing.

  5. purplejulian

    off the wall question provoked by my daily spanish word …
    Al oírlo me hirvió la sangre.
    When I heard, it made my blood boil.
    do these saying which are the same in spanish and english come from the latin, did the romans say it made my blood boil?

  6. CJ

    No, they would just say that they grew angry.
    Most Roman slang that we have relates to personal hygiene or criminality, ie, “you have stripes,” ie, from corporal punishment. Or “you are that spot garbage leaves on the pavement after you move it.” Or, “you have the habits and odor of a he-goat.”

    • purplejulian

      I wonder if the french say it makes my blood boil ….. no, cela me fait bouillir … it makes me boil … so why do english and spanish share that????? we have a little shared heritage – spanish royals intermarried with ours … but there’s nothing about it in my shorter oxford dictionary, nor in chambers phrase and fable …

    • BlueCatShip

      “You have the habits and odor of a he-goat.”

      They must’ve met that one college roommate….

      Nice turn of phrase, too. Almost elegant. Memorable. Commendable.

      :rotfl:

      …Shorter Oxford Dictionary? What, loafers or sandals? Sandals, I suppose, to suit the Greeks and Romans. 😉 (Oxfords, loafers, sandals…aw, you get it….)

      • CJ

        Getting as a roommate a guy who smells like unwashed hockey gear is right up there with getting a gal who has a perfume fetish, and a sense of smell that does not register when is enough. I had two in the room across the dorm hall from me and my roomie, and each had 40 sets each of pricey lingerie with which they festooned the communal bathroom every washday, usually Tuesday; and got phone call after phone call all week, and could not be found from Friday morning until Monday…they’d come back sleep-deprived, and we had our suspicions. These are the ones that used to play Never on Sunday nonstop, and one weekend went off and left it on repeat. After that it was war. We had a record we’d picked up of the Scots Guard Training Battalion band, including the bagpipe warmup, and we put that on when they got back, nonstop. They were hammering on our door screaming at us. 😉 La!

  7. paul

    Well, there was one marriage that famously never happened! 😉

  8. purplejulian

    a couple of google results
    Although this term did not appear in print until 1848, the term the blood boils, meaning “one gets angry,” dates from the 1600s.
    His blood is boiling (in his veins) [Îi fierbe sângele în vene] is a common expression in Romanian too. It means the same thing. that’s interesting … another latin origin language.

  9. Andrew_W

    I found this interesting page that links the expression to “make one’s blood boil” with “in cold blood”. They seem to think it has to do with archaic medical theory about heated blood being the cause of sicknesses.

    Make One’s Blood Boil

  10. Andrew_W

    regarding Cornelia and the oddities of Roman equippage:

    If I had a brain I might be dangerous to people other than myself. All of this talk of military hardware should have been understood in its proper context. Cornelia is not a little Roman girl somewhere in Italy where legionairs and emperors walked the earth. She is a little American girl and this is her very American story told in Latin.

    I am very grateful that there are no emote icons for blushing. 🙁

  11. Andrew_W

    Oh Lawdy that Scots Band warming up on the pipes must have been something to hear. Kind of like P.D.Q Bach’s Aria for the double reed.

    Most arias for double reeds are usually written for double reed instruments. But P.D.Q. Bach’s aria was written just for the double reed mouth piece sans instrument.

    • CJ

      Lol—it was. I’ve never heard Aria for the double reed. 😉 Probably this is a good thing.

      I once was asked to a convention—where, I will not say; and James Doohan of Star Trek was the guest. The convention was going down by the stern, fancy, fancy hotel, and good attendance, for that area. The people putting it on, however, were out of money, over their heads, and to cap all, turned out to be teetotalers who wanted to enforce their beliefs on the whole convention. Well, we started having room parties and the convention hosts reputedly were up and down the floors trying to raid those and get the evil drink away from people. That’s how bad it was.
      There was one consolation. Somebody had Scotch and a bagpipe chanter, and we ended up at a hush-hush private party with ample liquid, and Doohan was invited. As I *dimly* recall, he actually learned to play Amazing Grace in that session. The chanter went the rounds, and myself as a flute player did not acquit myself too badly. We had a very merry time. Then he confided in us all that he’d gotten a letter from the convention hosts, the concom, slipped under his door, to the effect that, in having him in a week early (their request) and running him about to the zoo and elsewhere, they had run out of money, and couldn’t pay his bill. Doohan did, however, have the return half of his plane ticket. And he asked us to be very, very hush-hush in the morning. So the Guest of Honor called a taxi at dawn and escaped, with a day yet to go, and we all slept the sleep of the innocent. I *liked* James Doohan.

      • chondrite

        I think there are very few people who met Jimmy Doohan who DISliked him! He must have found out that it was supposed to be a dry convention after he arrived, else there might have been some words. One of my friends collects odd happenings the way other people collect postcards or stamps. He ran into Mr. Doohan in a bar either during or after a con (I’m fuzzy on the details) and they got to drinking and chatting… A very jolly and rather drunken time was had by all!

        • chondrite

          Oh, and SpaceX finally got his ashes into orbit. We miss ye, Scotty.

  12. CJ

    WE ALL found out it was a dry convention after we got there.
    I really, really like Jimmy Doohan. Two of the ‘crew’ I worked with that I really enjoyed dealing with were Jimmy Doohan and Nichelle Nichols. Both really sweethearts. I ran into Nichelle at a little con where they were doing the bodyguard thing, and I just asked if she’d like to come to the bar and have a drink…she did, we did, and after that it was just regular folks, having a good time. SHe and I met from time to time, always glad to see her—now we don’t do the same circuit any more, but she worked hard for NASA as an ambassador, and all in all, both of them—top notch people.

  13. Andrew_W

    Wow,
    I just went through “Cornelia” XVII AND XVIII. I may be reading this all wrong but this story seems to be going dark fast. Cornelia’s parents appear to be taking her to the city where her school is. On the way they have an encounter with some soldiers. The encounter seems to go like this.
    They stop at a cottage along the way, near the city. They meet a scared soldier deserting his garrison and his commander. Some other soldiers also desert, but they are rounded up by some neighbors from across the road. Cornelia describes the soldiers thus,
    “…Miserum militem! Numquam iterum vulnerabitur,
    numquam necabitur, numquam erit caecus, semper
    oculos habebit, neque eras neque postero die pugnabit, sed
    neque copiis nostris auxilium dabit, neque a duce monebitur
    neque a sociis laudabitur. Paene hostis est. Misera sum cum
    de illo mih’te puto.”

    Which I read as follows,

    “Miserable soldiers. Never facing risk. Never facing death, never facing the dark. Always aware that neither tomorrow or the next day will they fight under the bright light of day but, will be bereft of the help of our auxilaries, the leadership of their commander, or the praise of their commrads. They are almost enemies. It is awful to think of them as soldiers.”

    Is this even close? If it is, this story is not just some nice little story about a school girl anymore.

    As for the linguistics there seem to be three things here. There is an ending to certain words indicating a future tense “bitur” and the various ways of saying “never again”, and going “without” a given thing.

  14. Andrew_W

    LOL

    Summer has arived! Study has been lax. But I have gotten back to Cornelia. And, I am really confused on the context. I thought the story was about an American girl on a journey in America, but things and people are being described with Roman military nomenclature. Soldiers are being described as having bows, arrows, javelins and carrying or not carrying “the two pila” (infamous Roman throwing spears, although I was under the impression that three was standard issue.). So I am confused as to the real context of this story. But, it does seem to be getting scarier and darker.

    Father has just confronted a soldier from the war in front of a house he and Cornelia are staying in. The soldier is no longer carrying his two pila. Poppa refuses to invite him in, but he comes in anyway. Very alarming.

  15. Andrew_W

    Oh, if you haven’t heard P.D.Q Bach’s “Aria for the Double Reed” you must. It is priceless.

  16. Xheralt

    My grandfather left me a Latin couplet, accompanied by a transcription of how it sounds to the English speaker, for amusement value. In reverse order:

    Oh, see, Villy, see ‘er go, forty buses in a row / Oh, no, Billy, dey is trucks. What is in ’em? Cows and ducks!

    O civili, ci ergo, fortibus es en erro. / O nobili, deus trux. Vadis enim? Causan dux!

    May not have gotten the Latin spellings quite right, doing it from memory. And I only have Google Translate’s sense of what it says…

  17. CJ

    Ryanrick: “Here’s something interested that showed up today on the BBC science site on Indo-European language development. I reallly found it curious that the desenter they interviewed, considered the invention of the wheel — which appears to have happened about the same time as writing developed; so why not consider writing as the driving force? The earliest wheels were in Mesopotamia, the Balkans Central Europe which still might incorporate Turkey, but sure doesn’t seem to me anyway, to involve the area north of the Caspian. But this sure makes me want to visit Catalhoyuk more than ever! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19368988#

  18. CJ

    FROM: purplejulian
    August 26, 2012 at 12:48 am

    that’s fascinating! I like the theory that it’s 3,000 years older – and yes, the connection with the earliest towns and Anatolia seems right!

  19. CJ

    CJ
    August 26, 2012 at 7:40 am · Reply · Edit

    Interesting. Some of the ‘core’ words have been variously interpreted for an origin up near Scandinavia, and in Russia.

    Detecting ‘core’ words is an interesting process. Certain letter combos and structure evolve over time, that’s one: you can trace the ‘movement’ of language in the mouth, as the local accent pushes the center of pronunciation forward or backward in the mouth—often in response to mingling with other language groups, ie, when the French speakers of the American south met the English speakers of the Colonies. You also can note WHICH words appear to belong to the newcomers, and which to the group you’re following. And you note which MEANINGS travel in with the newcomers. [When teaching a language, or getting someone to speak a ‘different’ English, you figure out where in their mouth they’re pronouncing the words, then get them to shift it. I’ve played with accent among my students, and gotten them to shift accents quite, quite radically, never criticizing what they speak, but pointing out that the *ability* to shift at need is a skill, and the ability to speak local to a local merchant and then shift to Harvard graduate for a job interview is just one more tool in the personal kit.]
    Anyway, back to language origin—shifts like mouth-movement can be traced in the way words evolve into other words. A commonly given example of evolution is pitar (father: Sanskrit) to pater (Latin) branching to patz (Russian) to vater, father, etc. in the Germanic and pere and papa in the Romance languaes.
    [In the final in my Comparative Philology of the IndoEuropean Languages class, we were handed words in Sanskirt and told to evolve them through all the branches by applying the formulas for sound changes in these various stages. And we were required to translate a sentence in Old High Norse (first having to identify the language) which none of us had ever seen.]
    So yes, there is a regularity in the process. And since the language had to borrow a word for sea, but has been argued to have a word for salmon, bear, and evergreen tree, it does point to an inland origin…BUT! there is also the question as to whether the languages wherein we tag these ‘original’ words have traded meanings around, such as—is the word the Nordic folk use for salmon really originally salmon—or just river-fish as opposed to lake-fish? Bear is a little harder to mistake—but unfortunately bear are in wider distribution than salmon. And were there ever salmon in the Black Sea? No evidence of such, but the Black Sea has been evolving—it’s now a very odd sea, with a dead layer at the bottom, not the sort of thing salmon like. But what was it 10,000 years ago? Lack of fossils isn’t proof of no fish. But rather than going that convolute route, I’d say maybe the Nordic folk just changed the application of the word.

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