The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I ain't dumb; I be smwart

I was "reading" Frye's Great Code today (which, BTW, I'm not particularly fond of, but that could be because I'm used to his Anatomy, and I place reading in " " because most of it is flying over my head) and I came across a Latin line, which I was, much to my surprise, able to translate fairly easily. My Latin studies have been suspended for quite some time now, and my understanding is at a very basic level, but it just "happened."
Thus I submit the following line:

Felix qui poscuit rerum cognoscere causas

I just meditated on it for a minute and guessed, and lo and behold, I was more or less correct. The translation in my head was:

Happy is he who was able to understand the causes of things.

I'm sure Laudator and possibly RK are laughing sardonically right now, but it came as a pleasant surprise to me. No doubt my French, which I have been practising and ameliorating after a dormancy of some eight years, has helped activate some hitherto dormant areas of my brain.
Incidentally, the "correct" translation (or the one I found online) runs thus:

Happy is he who has been able to understand the causes of things.

The only other time I this happened was almost two years ago when, upon reading Locke's Treatise Concerning Human Understanding, I was struck with the following line:

...Si non rogas, intelligo

Which I translated as, "If you don't ask, I know/understand." No doubt the simplicity of the vocabulary as well as the pithiness of the statement, so natural in aphorisms, grants ease of translation.

Maybe the PhD isn't looking so unlikely now :)


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