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09 April 2005



I thought that's what it should be, but a lot of high-class-looking seemingly authoritative sites by people with all sorts of hoity-toity uptown alphabet salad after their names kept saying STELLAM (accusative), and they intimidated me.

The proof of the pudding should seemingly be in Bayeux Tapestry Panel 15 itself -- solvitur ambulando -- but there is a slight chance that the M is really there, but clumsily buried beneath the embroidered tail of the comet at the upper right-hand corner of Panel 15. A medieval tapestry scholar could see it, but I can't. Medieval tapestry scholars can see big old embroidered letters that I can't. Their many years of scholarship and study, thought, contemplation and expertise gave them X-ray eyes. Of course this theory relies on Mathilde and her Court Embroiderer Ladies to have been clumsy, sloppy, nearsighted, color-blind, and to have had stubby fat fingers, and I find no other complaints about this in the æsthetic reviews of their work.

But to the extent that Miss Murphy banged this whack lingo into my aching head around 1963, I thought it should be STELLA (ablative).

Now this Ph.D. Mechanical Engineer from the University of Houston says it's STELLA, and I say the hell with it. On matters astronomical, historical, cometary, animal and vegetable and mineral, he seems to know Shit ® from Shinola ®, so I suspect he maintains equally high standards in his Latin grammar. This is not the kind of guy who can't see big letters, or sees them when they're not there, or who confuses his ablative first declension singular feminine with his accusative first declension singular feminine.

On his translation we will have to agree to disagree. He says "They marvel at the star." I say "These men gaze at the star." Let's call the whole thing off. Who has a Cassell's?

Naughty English schoolboys, and an American schoolboy of my acquaintance, have been graffitiing this into their Latin textbooks with cheap leaky pens for at least 250 years:

O Latin is a dead tongue
Dead as it can be
First it killed the Romans
And now it's killing me

Miss Murphy liked me because I laughed at her Latin jokes. One day she addressed the class: "All of you will graduate summa cum laude. Except you, Merkin -- you will graduate mirabile visu."

I was indeed graduated from Woodrow Wilson, and indeed mirabile visu.

Oh, and check out the new Vleeptron motto.


Blogger §J§ said...

this is an amazing coincidence: today I just met one of those really upgraded citizens, full of academic pride, full of themselves, who accused of being a loser and, somehow, retarded due to the fact that I am taking a Literature course. Of course this is the consequence of an early trade of vituperative (does this exists in English?) comments.
I personally believe don't like wannabes - especially when trying to impressionate or show how smart and gifted they are, standing above everyone and et caetera.

Anyway, Latin... I've learnt Latin (this is a lie - I know jack about that matter even after 3 years studying it). There is one expression and two quotations that I find particularly beautiful in that language. They are:
ars moriendi;
"quod malum tuum hodie sanasti?"
"sit igitur, iudices, hic(?) poetae nomem" - this one is, definitely wrong...

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Yes, vituperative exists EXACTLY that way in English! What the heck are you doing messing around with it in Portugal? Do you have a license for those kind of words? (You can buy a license from either the USA or the UK or the Canadian Embassy.)

Your 3 years of Latin would have been more than enough for a young Visigoth lad from the Province of Iberia (I guess that was the name of the province) to sail to Rome and order a pizza (there's an image of what seems to be a guy delivering a big pizza in the mosaics at Pompeii) and conduct diplomatic negotiations with the Senate and the Roman People (SPQR). You would have done just fine, about as well as I would.

In the brothels of Pompeii, you didn't even need to know Latin. They had (and you can still see them) big mosaic pictures of various Delights, and you would just point to the one you wanted. Until recently, the tour guide would only let men in to see the pictures.

Blogger Joana said...

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