13 March 2010

How do you decline Texas?

Not that anyone would wish to decline a visit to this fascinating and welcoming State. What I mean is: in terms of Latin grammar, would it be Texas, Texadem, Texadis ... or, more Hellenically, Texas, Texada, Texados ... or what? There must be an answer to this, because, as I could see in my recent trip to the land of bluebonnets and purple sage, Classical Languages are far from dead there. This became clear to me when I caught Terry Southard At It on my first evening there: doing her Latin homework. A group of them meet for lessons after the Parish Mass on Sundays in the Church of St Mary the Virgin Arlingto (see previous posts). And the next day Fr Hawkins took me visiting ...

We went first to look at the (Catholic) Cathedral of Fort Worth; rather ugly outside, but a wonderland within. It was built by a French priest in the 1890s (I must resist the solecism of calling it 'Victorian') for a congregation which, judging from the dedicants of its stained glass windows, was largely Irish. And it looks like a church built by a Frenchman for Irishmen. Its fittings are superb; late French baroque ... for example, our Lady in swirls of drapery leaning forward so that the bulgy crown upon her head looks to be in danger of toppling off. To transfer a topos, if you couldn't afford to go to France for a holiday, a visit to S Patrick's (yes!) Cathedral would be a good substitute. For contrast, we then dropped in on the old stockyards, through which cattle are still driven daily by elderly gentlemen one of whom had those exquisitely drooping moustaches which seem to descend well below the collar-bone.

But we couldn't stop longer than it took to buy postcards for my grandchildren because we were destined for lunch at the College of St Thomas More. It became clear that we had arrived as we parked our car beside a nice young man wearing an MA gown in a back street positively pulsating with Latin and Greek culture .... to be continued shortly.

10 comments:

Michael McDonough said...

Regarding the declining of "Texas", I immediately thought of a website called "Catholic-Hierarchy" since they carry the Latin names of dioceses, and there one finds for Fort Worth, Dioecesis Arcis-Vorthensis. Unfortunately, he does not go so far as to give what the Vatican uses for the States of the USA, so that was, as they say in Tejas, "a dry hole".

For clarity, what order do the English use for Latin declination? I learned nom, gen, dat, acc, abl, [voc] in high school, but I doubt that is the order of cases in England (or perhaps anywhere else)?

Michael McDonough said...

I also found this paragraph on the forms and probably meanings of the name (which may help you decide the Latin/Hellene issue):

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/TT/pft4.html

Or, perhaps the existing adjective "Texan" suggests the use of a "n" rather than a "d" in declined cases?

Patruus said...

Texia, -ae
cf. http://la.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texia

Patruus

St said...

Nom. Voc. Acc. Gen. Dat. Abl.

...has the advantage that the first two are usually the same, and with neuter nouns the first three are always the same. Easier to learn.

Victor said...

In my school in Germany, we learned nom, gen, dat, acc, abl, voc - just like you did, Mr. McDonough.

But cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6rLLE48RL0 - Jacques Brel singing about Latin in school...

Michael McDonough said...

Victor: Then the only difference between me and you regarding Latin is that by the end of high school I could only get 2 years, and you probably had 8! ;>

Patruus: Thanks for the Latin Wiki reference. So, "Texia" is 1st declension.

St: Unfortunately, the order drilled into me has become part of my mental DNA! Anything else is like trying to figure how much change I'm due in a foreign language!

Victor said...

Michael: I did not really appreciate it at the time, but it was only 4 1/2 years. In hindsight, i wish it had been longer - knowing Latin made it so much easier for me to learn other languages! I would not miss it for the world!
Anyway, the praise of classical languages is quite off-topic here, so...

Sir Watkin said...

Useful summary of the ordering of cases in Latin pedagogy here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instruction_in_Latin#Order_of_cases

Edwin said...

How do you decline Texas? Easy, just say, Sorry, I have a prior engagement... +E

Figulus said...

A hint to the declination can be found perhaps in the state's demonym. During the formative years of the republic, the preferred demonym was "Texian", implying a root with an I in it, like Patruus' "Texia". This would follow classical precedent if you assumed an original "Texae, Texarum" as a Latinization of the Caddoan word for "allied tribes", leading to "Terra Texia" as a name for their land. The armed forces of the fledgeling republic were called the Texian Army.

Of course, the most common demonym today is "Texan", which would imply an original "Texas, Texae", were it not such an obvious shortening due to laziness.

Other less common demonyms include Texican, Texonian, and Texasian.