Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Greet Me Once! Kiss Me Twice! The Latin Verb Salutare...

The Latin verb Salutare means 'to greet'. 

But how exactly did ancient Romans greet one another?

Was this verb just describing Caecilius seeing Holconius on the street and saying, "Salve!"?

Or did Romans do something else when they performed "Salutare"?

If you've spent any time in Romance language cultures, you've noticed that "greeting" one another seems to invariably involve kissing.

In Romania, where I spend a lot of time, everyone kisses everyone. You greet someone, male or female--no matter, by a mutual kiss on the cheek, followed by a mutual kiss on the other cheek.

Within the Russian Orthodox circles in which I spend time every Sunday, there is the three-fold kiss--three in honor of the Holy Trinity. But again, male and female--no matter--that is how we greet one another.

The Romanian verb descended from Salutare is "a săruta". In Romanian, this verb means 'to kiss'.

The fact that the Romanian verb descended from Salutare means 'to kiss', coupled with the fact that Romance language speakers tend to kiss upon greeting, would seem to provide strong evidence for the assertion that ancient Romans also invariably kissed upon greeting one another.

It would be very nice to find some ancient text that could be cited in confirmation of this assertion.

And that text is found in the New Testament itself.

St. Paul was a Roman citizen. And he wrote a letter to the Christians living in Rome. 

He gave them the following advice (Romans 16:16):

"Greet one another with a Holy Kiss."

Here is the Latin translation of the verse, translated by the Roman St. Jerome:

Salutate invicem in osculo sancto. 

Here we find clear confirmation of the coupling of the verb Salutare with the concept of kissing.

But what was his point?

He's telling the Christians of Rome, who, like all Romans, greet one another with a kiss, to make sure that their kiss is holy (sancto).

What he's saying is--when you greet someone, don't greet them with a kiss that pushes the boundaries of what is appropriate.

In other words, if your Romanian wife's smoking hot friend comes to greet you, don't do the double cheek kiss in such a fashion that you actually try to make the outer edges of your lips touch hers.

Um, who, in their human weakness, would ever do such a thing?

St. Paul was clearly preaching against "a thing."

St. Paul, in Romans 16:16, tells us that Roman greetings did indeed involve a kiss. We can assume, based on Romance language cultures, that the ancient Romans greeted one another much as the Romanians still do today. 

Men kissed each other on both cheeks.  Women kissed each other on both cheeks. Men and Women kissed each other on both cheeks.

But Men then, as now, were incapable of not, on some level, sexualizing the encounter. 

We're dogs. I apologize. I'm personally a work in progress.

That said,  I think this post does accomplish some original research on the verb Salutare...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - February 8, 2016

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

February 8, 2016 

Literal translation of the Latin: When anyone crosses through the Holy Gate, they discover the depth of the mercy of the Father, who searches for each one of us individually.

Here's how the Latin works:

Grammar Points
acc. sing.
Porta, Portae
acc. sing.
sanctus, sancta, sanctum
nom. sing.
quis, quid
crosses through
3rd pers. sing. pres. act. ind.
transeo, transire, transivi, transitum
of the Father
gen. sing.
pater, patris
of the mercy
gen. sing.
misericordia, misericordiae
dētegō, dētegere, dētēxī, dētēctus
acc. sing
altitudo, altitudinis
nom. sing.
qui, quae, quod
each one
acc. sing.
unusquisque, unaquisque, unumquisque
of us
gen. pl.
nos, nostrum
searches for
3rd. pers. sing. pres. act. ind.
perquiro, perquirere, perquisivi, perquisitum

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The So-Called Gender Mixed Plural

The English version of the Pope's most recent tweet (which I believe is the language of composition) includes both genders explicitly:

The Latin translation, however, makes use of the supposed ability in certain languages to use the masculine plural form to imply a mixture of genders:

We are expected to understand that the word filios, which in certain contexts would mean "sons" means "sons and daughters" in more general discourse.

It's not just Latin where this is supposedly in force. One could walk up to a crowd of females, all of whom are your friends, and you could say, "Hola, mis amigas!" 

Throw in one male in the crowd and supposedly you are could then say, "Hola, mis amigos!"

And the females are then expected to accept, "I'm an amigo now because that one single guy showed up."

Now, this phenomenon extends outside the Romance family. Famously in Biblical Hebrew the בני ישראל  (bney-yisrael), literally, the Sons of Israel, means the "Children of Israel," all of them, male and female.

But I suggest that even in Latin and the Romance tradition, this didn't really work. And proof of that is the emergence of gender inclusive liturgical texts in the Middle Ages.  

The original Latin of the Mass describes the priest saying:

Orate, fratres...
"Pray, brothers (and Gender Mixed Plural implied sisters)..."

But something very interesting happens in the Middle Ages. All over the place the prayer takes on the following form:

Orate, fratres et sorores...
 "Pray, brothers and sisters..."

I'm betting that the females of the community never truly felt included when the so-called Gender Mixed Plural was employed. 

And so, faced with the scenario above, I would say, "Hola, mis amigas, y mi amigo."

Learning Latin with Pope Francis - February 4, 2016

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

February 4, 2016 

Very excited about the upcoming Pope/Francis/Patriarch Kirill meeting in Havana, I am trying to get regular again in producing studies of the Pope's Latin twitter account.

Literal translation of the Latin: God wants to live among his sons. Let us ourselves give a place in our heart.

Here's how the Latin works:

Grammar Points
his own
acc. pl.
suus, sua, suum
prep (+acc.)
acc. pl.
filius, filii
3rd pers. sing. pres. active. ind.
volo. velle, volui
to live
pres. act. inf.
habito, habitare, habitavi, habitatum
nom. sing.
Deus, Dei
We ourselves
nom. pl.
ipse, ipsa, ipsum
abl. sing.
noster, nostra, nostrum
prep (+abl)
abl. sing.
cor, cordis
let us give
1st pers. pl. pres. act. subj.
do, dare, dedi, datum
acc. sing.
locus, loci