Verbum Sapientis

On one of the very first posts on this blog, I started up something I called an ‘eccentrictonary’, which consisted of unusual definitions for everyday words:

I came up with a few unusual definitions, but it’s hard work: most Latin phrases have been ‘translated’ into colloquial English long ago; some well-known examples being Sic transit gloria mundi (‘Gloria Mundy’s been sick in the Transit’) and of course the old favourite Caesar adsum iam forte – which as any fule know, means ‘Caesar had some jam for tea.’

The same principle is applied on ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ in the round called ‘The Uxbridge English Dictonary’:

Yet there is some wiggle-room in this field, and one or two that Mark and I have invented are:

exudate – to go out with an old flame

carpe diem – to drone on and on about your Doc Marten’s

and our personal favourite;

de gustibus non est disputandem – we were disgusted by the bus so we went by tandem.

I haven’t been able to come up with a definition of verbum sapientis though, so we’ll have to stick with the boring old proper translation, which is ‘a word to the wise.’  So.. why have I started I started all this old Latin caboodle? I hear you cry.  The reason is that The Times newspaper has brought back their Latin crossword.  Yes, that’s right – a crossword in Latin.  Apparently they first published one in 1930, and then stopped.  But as of yesterday they’ve started again.  Clues are mostly in English and answers are in Latin.

Sound impossible?

It almost is… actually I got one straight away, to which the clue was ‘a singer on high.’  Alto is Latin for ‘high’ and also a singing voice, so that one wrote itself.  But though three massive brains worked on it for half a year (mine, Mark’s and David’s) we couldn’t get more than five in total.  David is a GP, which was useful because doctors have to know a lot of Latin.

Thanks for all the comments – both here and on Facebook – on my story.  I still haven’t looked at the comments on the site.  I’m not sure I will.  I’m not sure, in fact, that I need to: but I expect that when people make criticisms they are thinking that it’s some kind of verbum sapientis.  It’s a problem all artists face, though – what to do about your reviews.  Do you read them and run the gauntlet of potentially nasty comments?  Or do you ignore them and miss out on praise?

Let me know if you find an answer to that one.

Kirk out


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