30 March 2009

Linguistics

Local cinemas - even among the apices somniantes - are currently advertising LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS. I am completely perplexed as to what this means. Does it mean Killers who are both Lesbians and Vampires? Or Lesbians who kill Vampires? Or people who kill Lesbian Vampires? It is a shaming example of the disadvantages of a Classical Education that I, who have spent the best decades of my life teaching Latin and Greek language and literature, am unable to understand a simple three-word sentence in my Mother Tongue. All those years spent inculcating the art of Latin Prose Composition ... teaching the gifted young how to turn a piece of English into Latin of the style of Caesar or Cicero ... have left me at a complete loss; although, come to think of it, perhaps I would understand modern English syntax better if I had instead taught the students to write in the clipped elliptical style of Tacitus.

What a sobering discovery to make at the end of a wasted life.

8 comments:

rev'd up said...

Rev'd up to the rescue:

Father, LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS is like so obviously a docu-drama musical production (in the vein of "High School Musical 3: Senior Year") about the transition of Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton as US Sec State. Now, doesn't this obviously (again) demonstrates the superior "Classics" training we receive here in the States?

Bishop of Ebbsfleet said...

Surely, Father, with your classical education, you know that they might be killers or vampires from the Isle of Lesbos. Lesbos being more famous for its unusual warriors than for its vampires, the plain sense (as one might say when reading the Articles of Religion) is that we are indeed talking of warriors from a certain island who kill vampires. But I shan't be going along 'ad picturas' to find out if I'm right.

By the way, isn't it just as unclear whether 'aspices somniantes' is nominative or accusative in your introduction? It is quite usual not to decline foreign words when they are used in English sentences and yet quite possible to do so?

+A

Elizabeth said...

My husband and I were having much the same conversation the other night when we saw a trailer for the aforesaid film.....

I don't think we will be wasting my husband's hard-earned wages on going to see it anyway - even if the Vampire Killers do hail from the isle of Lesbos. :-)

BillyD said...

No doubt about it - it's ambiguous.

Don't feel bad, Father - English is a tricky language, until you get the hang of it. ;-)

Father TE Jones said...

I am not ready for this Father, I am still working on a poster seen last year near UCL, it read, 'Mansfield Park the queer girls reading'. Punctuation as here given, work that one out!

Pastor in Valle said...

I defer to the apostolic authority of the hierarch of the great city of Ebbsfleet, but were not the warriors he refers to Amazons, not Lesbians?
Lesbyters, lesbuterai, surely were the sacred female priestly caste of Lesbos.

Bishop of Ebbsfleet said...

I am sure the Pastor in Valle Adurni is right: it's not a topic I've visited for nearly 50 years. We must leave it to the priestly caste he mentions to kill the vampires.

As for the great city of Ebbsfleet, alas I am bishop neither of that nor of its plucky football team, nor yet of its international train station. Mine is the little village on the isle of Thanet, outside which a cross is set up in memory of St Augistine's first preaching in 597 after he had landed at nearby Richborough. Plenty of bishops have to be content with what are now villages or vanished or vanquished cities. I am content to be the successor of St Augustine's first pulpit.

I'm left pondering whether muddling up Amazons and Lesbians has got me into the mess I'm in: trying to maintain historic Faith and Order, and the dignity of women, in an equal opps. church....

CPKS said...

The etymology of "Amazon" provides an interesting link to S Agatha, who perhaps should be the patron saint of Amazons...