Thursday, July 24, 2014

In Saecula Saeculorum - World Without End, Amen

Emperor Antoninus Pius
My novel In Saecula Saeculorum is a time travel adventure set in Ancient Rome. 

I wanted a Latin language title that would somehow encapsulate the concept of time and also touch upon the desperation of the mission depicted in the novel. 

Four young people have been unwittingly trained for a near hopeless mission back in time to Ancient Rome for an outside chance to save the modern world from certain destruction.

The phrase In Saecula Saeculorum turns out to be the perfect vehicle to convey this. Here's why.


In Saecula Saeculorum

This phrase is ubiquitous in the Latin Mass, as is its Greek antecedent in the Orthodox Liturgy, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων

It occurs multiple times in the Greek New Testament. In the King James translation, it is usually rendered "for ever and ever." In one place, Ephesians 3:21, however, the phrase is translated as "World without End."

Perhaps solely because of the glorious poetry of this felicitous rendering, "World without End" became the common doxology of the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican Church.  

The word saeculum originally means "a lifetime." How long is that? It depends on each person. As such, what is a lifetime of lifetimes?

The young people in the novel In Saecula Saeculorum sacrifice the only lifetime they have for the outside chance to save the world. Someday the World will indeed end. But if they can do anything about it, our planet will remain a World without End on their watch...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Practicing your languages--and letting others practice theirs...

Another day in Romania. I rise as soon as I hear soacra mea (mother-in-law) get up. Soția mea (My wife) will sleep at least another hour. I prepare the coffee machine to run. Soacra mea and I chat in the kitchen while it makes. Soacra mea speaks not a word of English, so this conversation is entirely in the Romanian I have labored for ten years to master. And I'm pretty good by now. In fact, I'm a certified Coast Guard Auxiliary Interpreter for Romanian and Arabic.

Blocul nostru (Our Bloc)
She takes a half coffee/half milk mixture and likes to sit alone in the kitchen to drink it. That's her stuff. I head into the main room of our apartment with my first magical cup and read the news on the internet.

Soția mea rises and all three of us eat a breakfast of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheese. That's also not an unusual Romanian lunch.

This evening was supposed to be an annual get-together with soția mea's friend and her husband. I've enjoyed this get together in the past. It's always a valuable experience to speak your foreign languages with multiple people.

You see, everyone has their own little dialect and accent. I've gotten expert at speaking Romanian with soția mea and soacra mea, but the chance to practice with the friend and her husband presents a new linguistic challenge.

 But when soția mea called her friend some days ago, she learns, well, the friend and her husband have just separated. And that means, it will be just soția mea and her friend--and me? Awkward.  I told soția mea that I should opt out of that dinner because it is very likely they'll better discuss all that's happened without me there.

And so, I plan out a new day. Like many days, I go to Biblioteca Naţională a României (The National Library of Romania). It's a quiet, air conditioned, and smoke-free place (none of those three things are common in Romania). And my plan is to study/work/relax there until such a time as I would go to a nearby mega-mall called Piața Unirii and eat dinner in the food court there. It's a very touristy place
Piata Unirii
and immediately upon entering, young people working by handing out fliers for businesses were addressing me in English.

Is it so obvious that I'm not Romanian? I mean, sure, I have prematurely grey (alright, white) hair. I'm as fair skinned as my Norwegian ancestors. Okay, I get it.

 And I made the decision to not answer in Romanian. Of course I could have. But I get more than enough chances to speak Romanian. But these young people, who have undoubtedly worked hard in school to learn English, are excited for the chance to practice their skills as well.

I decided to spend the next couple hours not practicing for myself. I asked people I encountered, "Do you speak English?" They all affirmed. I would find the restroom, buy a pizza,  and get a couple of beers. I conducted these exchanges in English, even when the people I encountered were clearly struggling despite their earlier claims. I watched them looking out the corner of their eye, straining to retrieve vocabulary, and so pleased when they succeeded. 

I enjoyed this day. I'm heading home now. I'll spend the rest of the evening speaking Romanian with soția mea when she returns from her dinner (with one side of the story) and soacra mea.  

Good luck in all your language learning endeavors. Practice often, and enjoy letting others practice as well!

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - July 12, 2014

To visit my archive of Latin Papal Tweets, go to my main page.

July 12, 2014

Literal translation of the Latin: While the teams were competing in football, people from very many countries and various religions came together. May games continually foster a culture of fellowship.

Here's how the Latin works.

Grammar Points
(with) teams
abl. pl. fem. noun
turma, turmae; ablative absolute construction with pedifolle and certantibus
abl. sing. masc. noun
pedifollis, pedifollis
abl. pl. pres. act. part.
certo, certare, certavi, certatum
nom. pl. masc. noun
homo, hominis
Prep. + abl.
governs civitatibus and religionibus
very many
abl. pl. fem. adj.
plurimus, plurima, plurimum; modifies civitatibus
abl. pl. fem. noun
civitas, civitatis; This word denotes a political structure, a collection of citizens. It later evolved to mean “city”
abl. pl. fem. adj.
varius, varia, varium; modifies religionibus

abl. pl. fem. noun
religio, religionis
came together
3rd. pers. pl. perf. act. ind. verb
convenio, convenire, conveni, conventum
nom. pl. masc. noun
ludus, ludi; subj. of foveant

may they foster
3rd. pl. subj. act. pres. verb
foveo, fovere, fovi, fotum
of fellowship
gen. sing. fem. noun
sodalitas, sodalitatis
acc. sing. masc. noun
cultus, cultus; direct obj. of foveant

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - July 15, 2014

To visit my archive of Latin Papal Tweets, go to my main page.

July 15, 2014

Literal translation of the Latin: Flee from faintheartedness, O dear young people, but rather seek out greatness of heart, as whoever is living the Christian life.

Here's how the Latin works.

Grammar Points
Pl. imper.
fugo, fugere, fugi, fugitum
O young people
voc. pl. masc. noun
iuvenis, iuvenis
voc. pl. masc. adj.
carus, cara, carum
acc. sing. fem. noun
pusillanimitas, pusillanimitatis; direct obj. of fugite
immo vero
but rather
these two words together  form an emphatic correction
greatness of soul
acc. sing. fem. noun
magnanimitas, magnanimitatis; direct obj. of quarite
pl. imper.
quaero, quaerere, quaesivi, quaesitum

nom. sing. adj.
quilibet, quaelibet, quodlibet
acc. sing. fem. noun
vita, vitae
doing (living, carrying out)
nom. sing. pres. act. part.
ago, agree, egi, actum
acc. sing. fem. adj.
modifies vitam