Opus Difficilis

Originally posted July 17, 2006

I was reading in the weekend paper about several children’s books that had been translated into Latin. Now I knew that Winnie the Pooh and I believe Peter Rabbit had both been translated into Latin – well these are classics and what better venue than a classical language! But “Walter Canis Inflatus” – Walter the Farting Dog. Now this is one of these “not so tasteful – bare all” topics that fly in the face of the subtle, cerebral classics – not that the Roman army could really be called subtle – disciplined, yes – well maybe this is really what subtlety is all about!

Anyway, I felt that Walter could be forgiven for his indiscretions because his authors had taken the time to translate their book into Latin – to preserve an ancient language, to stimulate interest in the classics, and to simply create a presence for Latin in this day and age – Bravo! Eureka – no that’s Greek – just give me a minute – Will Ave do?

So I said, “Why not knitting?” I then set about to translate some fundamental knitting terms into Latin. This was not easy. I downloaded several pieces of “free” software – no suggestion that these were virus free softwares, so I might have gotten more than what I paid for – exactly, free indeed.

I keyed in knitting – there is no “K” in Latin – not even silent ones. It reminded me of all the articles that I had read on “naming your business” – always include a “K” a hard sound. Well, yes I have a “K” in Infiknit – except that it is silent – maybe I should have stopped there.

I pressed on – “needle” – no match. Surely they stitched things together. How about “sew” – no match – OK this rules out quilters too – Ha! Wait, maybe the software wasn’t working? I keyed in “fight” – go figure – an instant match of “macto” and “pugna”. “Veni, Vidi, Victi!” Either the Romans did nothing except fight and conquer or the writers got paid only for poems on fighting & conquering – but, I would sing of Fingers and the Artist – not Arms and the Man. Was there any use in pressing on?

Well garment was “Vestis” – getting warm and weave was “texo” – even warmer and (Eureka err Ave,) even the despised “craft” was “professio” – this is one of the reasons I love Latin – it elevates even the most mundane to the realm of the sublime!

Maybe this is why the shop teacher, I taught with, would often announce on a Friday afternoon “Illigitimus noncarborundum”. It elevated the struggle to survive to heroic porportions – now if I could only do this with knitting!

Ave atque Vale!


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