I am preparing to throw myself into warfare with the Latin language this summer.
This is caused primarily because of the Academia-induced-madness, which requires that I be subjected to a language test in order to graduate.
Ergo, I must learn a language.
See that? How I effortlessly slipped a Latin word into my diction?
Latin and I must be fated to be together. My first brief excursion into the world of complicated declensions and conjugations – which are not the same thing! one is done to verbs and one is done to nouns but I can never remember which is which – in 7th and 8th grade has become romantic in the hazy past.
There were fun times with my class. Sitting around a table chanting “amo, amas, amat! amamos, amatis, amant!” Creating ridiculous stories to help us remember our vocabulary. Rolling the sharp syllables around the mouth and declaiming in strong accents, “Vvv-ear-toos ten-tah-mee-nay gow-deht!”
All aided by the fact that the Latin I studied was studied under the Ecclesiastical – or “medieval” – pronunciation of Latin.
In case you were wondering, Medieval Latin is the Latin that evolved through the ages and was passed down to our current time mainly by the usage of the Catholic church. The other kind of Latin, “Classical” Latin, was created by scholars who decided that an evolving language was not the real deal, and so they must make up rules about how they thought the ancient Romans pronounced their words.
Medieval Latin is lovely and graceful, the complete opposite of Classical Latin.
In Medieval Latin, Ceasar would have proclaimed,
“V-ee-nie, v-ee-die, v-ee-chie!”
Every “v” pronounced, sounding strong and manly.
In Classical Latin, Chey-zahr would have mounted that hill to survey his conquest and uttered in tones tremulous with triumph,
“Weenie, weedie, weakie! MwahahahaHAHAhaha!” *evil snigger*
I cannot picture thousands of Roman Troops joyously following a leader who pronounced such wimpy sounding syllables. That soft “w” neither inspires trembling hearts not strikes terror into the hearts of enemies.
On the other hand, that would completely explain why those barbarians in the North refused to be cowed by such sissy-speakers. Also why to this day they defiantly pronounce the “w” as a “v”.
True, the barbarians prefered to berzerkly fling themselves onto enemy spears rather than to carefully strategize, but at least that was manly! Quite possibly stupid, but real masculinity is still more attractive than “weakie“.
And as a friend of masculine personage recently explained, “Stupidity and manliness are not mutually exclusive. Not synonymous, but definitely not incompatible.”
The propensity of the ancient world leaders to lisp their “V”s into “W”s and harshen their soft “C”s into “K”s is possible, (if unverifiable,) but I postulate that if we carry this theory through we will severely damage the reputations of the Classical heroes. If only because we will not be able to take their names seriously.
If Cicero was really pronounced as “Kick-er-row”, that is rather passable. We might smirk a bit, but this moniker still has some presence and virility.
But if we start to referring to the works of “Wuhr-gill” than the Aeneid might soon be laughed out of existence.
For some reason this Classical pronunciation of Virgil makes me conjure up a vision of chic Roman ladies, (with fashionably bobbed hair,) meeting at the Coliseum to gossip; “Have you read the latest Wuhrgill? Simply too too naughty-making, dahling!” Classicism a la Waugh.
And so with all this background and history of Latin, I prepare for a conquest of the language.
I need a war-cry. Dux Bellorum? I am not sure what that mean. Ora et labora? Not quite stirring enough. Ah.