Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stupui Videre Te Hic!

by Kerry Blair

A copyeditor at Covenant recently asked me to translate a Latin phrase that appears in a book of essays I have coming out in March. (More about that to come. Probably much more. Poor you.) Thus have I pondered this week the hours and hours I put into learning a dead language. When I finished my twelfth hour -- at BYU with emeritus professor J. Reuban Clark, III -- my father gave me a poster that read:

SI HOC SIGNUM LEGERE POTES, OPERIS BONI IN REBUS LATINIS ALACRIBUS ET FRUCTUOSIS POTIRI POTES! (If you can read this sign, you can get a good job in the fast-paced, high-paying world of Latin!)

Brother Clark gave each of his “A” students a bumper sticker that read: SI HOC ADFIXUM IN OBICE LEGERE POTES, ET LIBERALITER EDUCATUS ET NIMIS PROPINQUUS ADES. (If you can read this bumper sticker, you are both very well educated and much too close!)

Those two things – and the ability to amaze and annoy everybody in my pew by singing all four verses of Adeste Fideles in its original language – are about all I’ve gotten out of all those years of effort. Until today. Today, dear readers, I intend to waste (I mean “fill”) an entire blog with Latin phrases that you too can use for fun and profit! (Yes, I’m desperate. Like Stephanie, I haven’t a spare minute in which to wax creative. Unlike Stephanie, I have no incredibly creative clock to show you.) Try these phrases out and let me know how it goes.

Everyone knows veni, vidi, vici, but here are a few phrases that I frankly find handier:

Veni, vidi, verti (I came, I saw, I fled) -- pinned to the RS bulletin board on quilting night.
Veni, vidi, vixi (I came, I saw, I survived) -- scrawled on the chalkboard after Primary.
Veni, vidi, vitavi (I came, I saw, I avoided at all costs) -- penned at the bottom of a sign-up sheet for drivers to transport Scouts to and from the mud caves.
Veni, vidi, vagii (I came, I saw, I cried) -- what I mutter every Friday amid the shambles of my living room after Cub Scouts.

Paene advenimus? (Are we there yet?)
Quod facitis me non iuvat. (That which you are doing does not please me.) I often say this to the dog since canem male -- bad dog -- hurts her feelings.
Specta ne in laetro gardiaris. (Mind you, don’t step in anything unpleasant.) I say this to the Cub Scouts when the dog's been in the front yard before den meeting.
Relinque me in pace. (Leave me in peace.) Said mostly to my pesky cat who always wants to lay on my keyboard when I'm trying to type.
Purge cameram tuam, puer. (Tidy your room, young man.) Regretably, I don't have anybody to say this to anymore, but maybe some of you can use it.
Non dulce est cum seminibus olivarum eum ferire dum dormit. (It’s not nice to pelt him with olive stones when he’s asleep.) Unfortunately, over Thanksgiving when the kids were all home, I did have someone to say this to.
Te ad ludum gladiatorum cum fratre tuo mittam. (I’ll send you to gladiator school like your brother.) Maybe I said this one once too often. A second of my sons joined the military without me sending either of them. Come to think of it, though, it still worked pretty well on the non-military olive-pit thrower.

Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant! (May faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy.)
Utinam modo subiunctive simper male utaris! (May you always misuse the subjunctive!) These two lines were favorites of Brother Clark, so I just had to throw them in.

Alaudarum M cape, linguas exseca et sepone. Alauda abice. Linguas mitte in sartaginem cum Paulo olei et frige cito. Eas traice ad patellam calidam. Quattuar sufficit. (Obtain 1,000 larks. Remove tongues and set aside. Discard larks. Saute tongues in pan with a little oil. Transfer to hot platter. Serves four.) You won't find that on Martha Stewart's website. Well...I guess it wouldn't surprise me too much if you did. But she'd never discard the larks. She could come up with fifty tasteful and clever things to do with bird carcasses, I'm sure.

Sorry, but that’s really all I have time for. Videam te mox!


At 1/18/2008 11:20 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I will use all of these!

Especially the Scout ones!

At 1/18/2008 2:31 PM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

I came, I saw, I smiled, and also laughed. Great blog.

At 1/18/2008 3:01 PM, Blogger Jon said...

And my favorite:

Sacra Bos! (Holy Cow!)

Out of curiosity, were you Catholic as a youth? Whether you were or not, did you ever attend a Mass done in Latin? Seems like that would be pretty cool for one schooled in it.

At 1/18/2008 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll have to use that recipe!

At 1/18/2008 8:58 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

One of my favs:

Veni, Vidi, volo in domum redire. (I came, I saw, I want to go home.)

I don't know Latin. I copied it off a poster somewhere. (Hope I didn't type anything dirty.)

At 1/18/2008 9:32 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Love this, Kerry. (And please, do tell lots and lots about your book!)

My favorite Latin phrase was from a friend's variation on the famous one, Carpe Diem: She thought "carpe corpus" was extremely funny (whether that's correct, I wouldn't know, but I got the gist--and laughed).

Wish I knew more than a couple of Latin phrases. :)

At 1/19/2008 1:39 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

Kerry, I am laughing out loud! Man, that was perfect for me today. I always need a good laugh before I mop the floors.

You are incredibly witty, and I love you!

Nancy Allen

At 1/20/2008 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my hero. I wish I knew some latin. Great way to get mad at the kids without them having a clue. I tried pig latin but they figured that out. Gotta love um anyway.

At 1/20/2008 7:45 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Jon: I grew up mostly Methodist and the masses in my hometown were regrettably conducted in English. (Oh, for the day they were in Latin!) Among my most prized possessions, however, is a very old book of Catholic prayer and blessings. Intended, I suspect, for priests to carry in their robes, it even has instructions for an exorcism. In Latin, of course. (Me and demons and the pope. The only Latin-speakers left in the world, I fear.)

Thanks so much for the comments! You guys have a way of making even the dumbest bloglets worth the time it took to write them.

At 1/20/2008 10:39 PM, Anonymous mean aunt said...

Kerry-if you like Latin, you'll love this article. Especially with military sons.

The more things change. . .

The word verification is quuoi! Must be Latin for blog.


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