Posted by Sarah » 5 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 Sarah » Add Comment »
Bad Latin really tries my patience.
I love finding Latin in unexpected places. That being said, it spoils the effect if the Latin is incorrect! While shopping today I saw this Jessica Kagan Cushman bracelet, original price: $125. It says: QUOSQUE TANDEM ABUTERE PATIENTIA NOSTRA?, which is nonsense. She was trying to quote Cicero’s First Catilinarian, which begins: Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?, or (roughly) “How long will you abuse our patience, Catiline? The bracelet’s “quosque” is meaningless in the context, since abutere takes the ablative. I would suggest, Ms. Cushman, next time you quote a Latin phrase, that you double-check your source before production.
Posted by Dennis » 15 Comments »
This is one is really, really bad. I was browsing around at some well-known blogs to see what sorts of useful things I might include here, and as I scanned the rather spartan Instapundit I came across this unfamiliar and baffling line in the sidebar:
Sic gorgiamus [sic] allos [sic] subjectatos nunc!
I knew that gorgiare was not a Latin verb, and that allos must be a mistake for alios (others).
The source is apparently the 1991 film adaptation of the Addams Family, and it serves as the family motto (you can see it in the script here), and the translation at least sounds like a motto: “We gladly feast upon those who would subdue us.”
If gorgio, gorgiare meant anything it would mean to speak gutturally, possibly to growl. (I found a reference to DuCange that suggests some authority for this meaning in Late Latin.) What’s really interesting, however, is the meaning of allus: it’s your foot thumb, better known as the big toe.
I feel that gorgiare should take indirect discourse, and so we should understand elision of esse with subiectatos. So what does it sort of mean?
“Thus do we growl that (our) big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!”
Will Hollywood never learn to consult a proper Latinist?
I might suggest something like this: “Laeti vescimur nos subacturis.”