Posted by Sarah » 4 Comments »
On the “spine” of the bag, the bad Latin “title.”
I am always disappointed when I have to do a Bad Latin post, but this time is especially tough for me because I really like Brooklyn brand Hayden-Harnett. They teamed up with Disney to produce a line of accessories inspired by the 70-year-old film Fantasia. Among these is the Veneficus Libri bag, a beautifully detailed design meant to look like a book. The name is an attempt at Latin, and is supposed to mean “magic book,” according to the description. This phrase is printed on the bag itself, as if the title on the binding.
When I first saw the bag, I wanted to give Hayden-Harnett the benefit of the doubt, and assumed that the phrase veneficus libri was an attested term meaning “book[s] of the sorcerer.” This would be fitting for a bag inspired by Fantasia with its “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence. A cursory Google search confirmed that the phrase veneficus libri appears a lot on the web. I figured that veneficus was a fourth declension noun and libri was plural because there were several “books” in the tome in question.
When I looked it up, though, this idea was shot down. Veneficus is a first/second declension adjective that can be used substantively to mean “sorcerer,” so it can only be nominative singular. Realizing that the Latin was therefore “sorcerer of the book,” I looked further into that Google search, and found that the term only appears on websites devoted to magic and social networking games and the like, and doesn’t appear in a book or scholar search.
The source of this term is most likely our old friend, the online translator. Put “magic book” into one, and you get veneficus libri. I’d like to reiterate what Dennis said in his recent post, Good Psych, Bad Latin: Those who would like to use Latin in their movie, jewelry, comic, or whatever, contact a Latinist– it only takes a moment longer to contact us than to input something into an online translator, but the payoff is not having something absurd printed on your commercial product.
A gracious and witty response from Hayden-Harnett.
Posted by Dennis » 31 Comments »
Kate Middleton’s engagement ring is seen in this official engagement photo.
People who care about royalty and pageantry seem to be all wrapped up in the coming wedding of Prince William (as he’s called) and his fiancée, Kate Middleton. ‘News’ reports keep cropping up showing these people how they might obtain — from local markets — cheap pieces of costume jewelry bearing a slight, superficial resemblance to the engagement ring.
Now TELEbrands (the company behind many of your favorite infomercials) is selling a poor replica of Ms. Middleton’s ring (with ‘simulated diamonds’, &c.) through a recently registered trademark, the ‘British Historic Society.’ This is intended to lend the shoddy trinket an air of legitimacy and encourage the fools at home to throw their money away.
Inventing a “society”, however, wasn’t enough, nor was adopting the British Royal Coat of Arms. To make this seem really official they needed to throw in some Latin or something, and what could be easier than Roman numerals?
The “British Historic Society” seems to have been founded in the year XIXVIXIMMX:
The British Historic Society? More like Historic BS.
If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then you probably understand how Roman numerals work. Unlike TELEbrands.
You can see MMX at the end, and possibly XI at the beginning, and the name was registered in November of 2010, but beyond that it’s just a ridiculous mess. It almost seems to punctuate the company’s crass cynicism as it can’t be bothered to do anything remotely sensible with one of the tools of their deception.
‘Yeah … make it all British-y … put in some beefeaters or something. Ooh! Make the seal more, like, Latin-y. You know — like XIXVIXIMMX or whatever. Perfect!’
I hope that no one you know has been tricked. Whenever I see an ad like I imagine scores of well-meaning but naive grandmothers trying to do something nice, and scores of relatives too polite to say anything. So sad.
Posted by Dennis » 2 Comments »
Sarah and I love Psych, a comedic take on Sherlock Holmes, which appears on the USA network.
Gus and Shawn from USA’s Psych.
Shawn Spencer, a slacker with daddy issues, pretends to be psychic so that he can do the detective work his father trained him to do from boyhood without having to fulfill his father’s dream of actually becoming a cop (and having a boss and responsibility, and all the rest).
His best friend Gus (Burton Guster) is his Watson and provides the transportation (his little car, affectionately called the Blueberry), the common sense, the awareness of the outside world, the credit card, etc., (as well as ‘the super-sniffer’: his superior sense of smell, which helps the duo from time to time).
Detective Lassiter is Lestrade, and you might stretch things to say that Shawn’s father (played by Corbin Bernsen) is a sort of Mycroft Holmes, whom Sherlock consults when he’s stuck, but that’s gone far enough. If you think the psychic detective bit sounds like CBS’s the Mentalist (also worth watching), Psych came first and never tires of making fun of the similarity.
I bring this up not only because we’re fans of the show but because the latest episode, set in a town eerily like Twin Peaks (and populated by its cast), features Latin used by a teenage girl as a kind of code to keep her last diary entries private. (You can watch the episode online.)
Here’s a bad photo of the diary page in question:
And here’s a transcription:
EGO sentio sit absens haeres non erit.
Coepi seeing R quod sum valde gavisus. Must non dico J ut is mos non exsisto gavisus. Volo EGO could dico quispiam.
R est sic populus EGO cannot puto sit interested in mihi, totus meus amicitia es jelus.
Hodie EGO sermo ut R quod is said nos postulo impetro
It’s not Latin, but a kind of cypher that can be frustrating for a Latinist. Actually, it’s not really a cypher either, which I’ll explain in a minute. [Read more →]