Friday’s answers

Welcome back and thanks to Andrei for posing Thursday’s questions.

You can claim a virtual batch of Jamaican Lime Biscuits for stumping us all by leaving the answers below.

(I can’t dredge up much more from my school Latin than amo, amas, amat, . . . ).

One Response to Friday’s answers

  1. Andrei says:

    The questions as posed

    Today we shall consider this phrase “mare nostrum”

    (1) What is this language ?

    (2) What the literal translation of these words into modern English?

    (3) how would we express this today in modern English?

    (4) Can you write this using the original orthography of the language from which it comes?

    (5) What was Operation Mare Nostrum, when did it occur and who organized it?

    Question 5 is just filler, Teletext answered it and it concerns a ill fated attempt in 2013 by the Italian Government to deal with the current European Emigration crisis by stopping the flow of emigrants from Africa across the Mediterranean using the Italian Navy and Air Force

    As for the rest

    (1) That the phrase is Latin would be obvious to any literate New Zealander over forty I’d suggest – Latin inscriptions and mottos were common on buildings and monuments constructed in NZ from the 19th century until the 1970s when Maori began to supplant them

    (2) Our Sea – it is the term used by the Romans for the Mediterranean Sea (3) and still used sometimes by Italians. As Gravedodger noted Mussolini used it almost exclusively and it appeared in q5 which was in 2013

    (4) Is the heart of this quiz and if anyone had suggested MARE NOSTRVM I could not in good conscience have taken the prize, which I know claim

    In truth if we had a time machine and could go back to Rome in its heyday and show Cicero, Ovid, Virgil or Horace the phrase as I rendered it I strongly suspect they would not recognize it or only with extreme difficulty

    MARE▾NOSTRVM would be the conventional and formal way it would have been written in their day

    This might even have been seen MARENOSTRVM with no delineation between the words at all

    There was no upper and lower case and separating words with whitespace was unknown and would not appear for another 800 years

    There was another less formal cursive script in use and later documents in this script which is virtually unreadable to us did not usually separate the words at all

    The glyphs (which hopefully display properly in your browser) used to separate the two words are called ” interpuncts” . The Latin inscriptions we see on our older buildings sometimes have them sometimes don’t and just use the space we are familiar with – likewise with the “V” (which is the letter “U” in this context) is often replaced with its modern equivalent

    In fact our lower case and upper case are distinct alphabets in a sense some characters have little relationship between their upper and lower case variants e.g “A” and “a”

    Check out the inscription on the Bridge of Remembrance in Christchurch if you are there and see out it conforms to this orthography and how it doesn’t and likewise for any other Latin you encounter on your travels


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