Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Getting to grips with French/Latin - Romanes eunt domus -> Romani ite domum

Faced with translating the latin inscription on the 18th century Arc de Triomphe in Montpellier raised memories and debate on latin grammar. Along with recollections of innumerate latin masters, behaviourists who tried to modify students' behaviour by the local application of dictionary to head (with heft) we fondly recalled from Monty Python‘s Life of Brian


Lo and behold, I have just stumbled on a blog from a fellow computer scientist which cites just that scene - so thanks to @handee whose (unrelated) tweet led me there, and to  @tomcrick for citing the relevant source on his blog


[Brian is writing graffiti on the palace wall. The Centurion catches him in the act]
Centurion: What’s this, then? “Romanes eunt domus”? People called Romanes, they go, the house?
Brian: It says, “Romans go home. “
Centurion: No it doesn’t! What’s the Latin for “Roman”? Come on, come on!
Brian: Er, “Romanus”!
Centurion: Vocative plural of “Romanus” is?
Brian: Er, er, “Romani”!
Centurion: [Writes "Romani" over Brian's graffiti] “Eunt”? What is “eunt”? Conjugate the verb, “to go”!
Brian: Er, “Ire”. Er, “eo”, “is”, “it”, “imus”, “itis”, “eunt”.
Centurion: So, “eunt” is…?
Brian: Third person plural present indicative, “they go”.
Centurion: But, “Romans, go home” is an order. So you must use…?
[He twists Brian's ear]
Brian: Aaagh! The imperative!
Centurion: Which is…?
Brian: Aaaagh! Er, er, “i”!
Centurion: How many Romans?
Brian: Aaaaagh! Plural, plural, er, “ite”!
Centurion: [Writes "ite"] “Domus”? Nominative? “Go home” is motion towards, isn’t it?
Brian: Dative!
[the Centurion holds a sword to his throat]
Brian: Aaagh! Not the dative, not the dative! Er, er, accusative, “Domum”!
Centurion: But “Domus” takes the locative, which is…?
Brian: Er, “Domum”!
Centurion: [Writes "Domum"] Understand? Now, write it out a hundred times.
Brian: Yes sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
Centurion: Hail Caesar! And if it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.


all of which makes my current french homework feel rather more straigthforward - now back to the todo list, and bad girl for being distracted by twitter

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