One of my favorite things in Latin is the verb canō, canere meaning "to sing," but more often "to sing ,of": thus the opening of Vergil's Aeneid, Arma virumque canō--"I sing of arms and a man." However, I much prefer the a translation that drops the "of" because it offers a sense of one singing something into being, and if the poet is a mimetic maker, I like the idea of a verb that presents the poem as producing its subject, rather than merely talking about it. This is (side note) one of the many things Diane Duane gets right in So You Want to Be a Wizard?: when Nita and Kit read from The Book of Night with Moon, they are, in fact, singing New York City into being. Urbem canunt.

I'm interested in these quirks of Latin to English translation in part because Latin has a particularly rich history of interaction with English, both in terms of English borrowings from Latin and Romance languages, and in terms of grammatical conventions. And this history, like any history, is not neutral, but rather tells us things (or allows us to say things?) about both particular moments and larger narratives about our past. The English absorption of Romance language words in the Anglo-Norman period is a very different matter from the scientific lexicon that develops over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And, as my language instructor tells me, one can often approximate Latin grammar by speaking like an Edwardian aristocrat. Moreover, as one studies Latin, the language's usage rules start to enter your own speaking style.

The points of all this:
--1) I'm interested in connections among history, style, and poetics, and so the suggestive possibilities of canō, canere arouse my interest. How does grammar, for example, shape our ideas of what literature does? How do particular social/cultural/historical forces affect the encounter between our language and Classical literature?
--2) Over the past few months, I've been trying to learn how better to examine my own inner life, something that can be difficult with depression. I'm trying to write more as a way of becoming more comfortable with this kind of introspection, but it turns out that such ways of thinking are actually a practiced skill. And when faced with a challenge, I get academic and meta: Why might I have difficulty with life writing? Perhaps because my habits of writing are shaped by history...
--3) Aside from my occasional involvement in the feminist Mormon blogging community, I'm rather new to the internet and am still, shall we say, figuring out the grammar of this place. Nonetheless, I want to say hello, and Latin has been taking over my life, so...yes.

P.s., the spell check tells me that "blogging" is not a word, but "blagging" is. I expect you all to correct yourselves in the future.



January 2013



RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios