Dictionary completed after a century in preparation

The Barton Domesday Book entry in Latin and En...

The Barton Domesday Book entry in Latin and English. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK so my potted history of Latin may not be entirely accurate but hopefully its’ a bit of fun and payback for years of conjugation, declension, gerunds etc etc.


Decline and Fall

Amo, amas, amat the cat
Amabo, amabis, amabit this Latin shit!
Amavi, amavisti, amavit Spooner’s shining wit.
Verbum, verbum, verbum, the word.
Dominus, domine, dominum, of the lord.

When Roman cohorts ruled this land
Latin didn’t stand a chance in hell
and soon got out of hand,
absorbing words from the Angles,
the Saxons, the Jutes, the Celts,
evolving into something else –
Medieval Latin.
To compensate for its paucity
it purloined native words you see
and gradually was forced to be
a bastardised language
sandwiched between the classic tongue
and every other one.
Vox populi had spoken
and Latin’s grip was broken.

Inevitably Latin in Britain declined,
and the linguistic pride of the Romans died
but revived in Victorian times,
surviving in enclaves of education
where the rigorous essence of conjugation
put ‘Great’ back into the British nation,
inspiring leaders who colonised
like ancient Romans eulogised.

Now I, Pherecrates, shall speak,
saying “Let’s return to ancient Greek,
rich, rolling language of civilisation.
Throw out the Latin abomination,
regimented tongue of a barbarous nation.”

8th December 2013 – headline from the Guardian

Notes:  “Dictionary completed after a century in preparation.”  A monumental dictionary of medieval British Latin has been completed after a century of research and drafting, in a project that spanned the careers of three editors and a small army of contributors.  The 17th, and final, part of The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources draws on more than 1,400 sources from the sixth to the 16th century, including the Domesday Book, the Magna Carta and the Bayeux tapestry.  Latin was used across Europe by clergy, scientists, philosophers, and lawyers for more than a thousand years after the fall of the Roman empire. Medieval British Latin was particularly distinctive being affected by the diversity of native spoken languages, including English, French, Irish, Norse, and Welsh.


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