Friday, March 18, 2011

Varro, On the Latin Language

Marcus Terentius Varro [Varro]
127-16 BCE
Trans RMBullard
Latin (Republican Era/Golden Age of Latin Literature)

Quemadmodum vocabula essent imposita rebus in lingua Latina, sex libris exponere institui.
1 [I have decided to the publish in six books all the words that have been assigned to things in the Latin language.]

De his tris ante hunc feci quos Septumio misi: in quibus est de disciplina, quam vocant etymologiken:
2 [I have done this according the three books I have already sent to my friend Septumius: the subject of these books is a "disciplina", which people call an "book of etymology."]

quae contra eam dicerentur, volumine primo, quae pro ea, secundo, quae de ea, tertio.
3 [these things that they would say along its pages: in the 1st volume, such and such on this topic, in the 2nd, such and such on this topic, in the 3rd, and so forth.]

In his ad te scribam, a quibus rebus vocabula imposita sint in lingua Latina, et ea quae sunt in consuetudine apud populum et ea quae inveniuntur apud poetas.
4 [I shall write to you on the subject by which our words have come to be adopted into the Latin language, and the ones that are in popular use by custom, as well as the ones that you can find used primarily by poets.]

Cum unius cuiusque verbi naturae sint duae, a qua re et in qua re vocabulum sit impositum (itaque a qua re sit pertinacia cum requiritur, ostenditur esse a pertendendo;
5 [Since there are two natures to each type of word, a term has been established from each matter and in each matter: therefore, whenever we seek the term's usage, we must also show the matter to which it pertains;]

in qua re sit impositum dicitur cum demonstratur, in quo non debet pertendi et pertendit, pertinaciam esse, quod in quo oporteat manere, si in eo perstet, perseverantia sit),
6 [Let us establish what we must say whenever a term is illustrated, and the manner to which it ought not pertain, and how it is used, what exactly its usage is, which ought to stay in such a manner that a usage exists, if it endures in the one established.]

priorem illam partem, ubi cur et unde sint verba scrutantur, Graeci vocant etymologian, illam alteram peri semainomenon.
7 [The Greeks call that the study of the reason and origin of words I described before an "etymology", but the one I described later a "perisemainomenon--summation of derivations.]

De quibus duabus rebus in his libris promiscue dicam, sed exilius de posteriore.
8 [I will speak intermittently about these two subjects in these scrolls, but only scantily regarding the latter one.]

De quibus duabus rebus in his libris promiscue dicam, sed exilius de posteriore.
[I shall speak about these two subjects in the following books intermittently, but more lightly about the latter subject.]

Quae ideo sunt obscuriora,
[Therefore these things are less clear,]

quod neque omnis impositio verborum exstat,
[because every assignment of words does not stand out,]

 quod vetustas quasdam delevit,
[because the passage of time has made some usages obsolete,]

 nec quae exstat sine mendo omnis imposita,
[nor does something complety become apparent without error, once it's been assigned]

 nec quae recte est imposita,
[and whatever has not been correctly assigned]

 cuncta manet
[still remains intact]

 (multa enim verba litteris commutatis sunt interpolata),
[you see, many words have been transliterated from letters that have been changed]

 neque omnis origo est nostrae linguae e vernaculis verbis,
[nor is the entire origin of our language derived from common-place words]

et multa verba aliud nunc ostendunt,
[and many of our words now mean something else]

aliud ante significabant,
[when before they used to mean something entirely different]

 ut hostis:
[take the word 'hostis' for example]

 nam tum eo verbo dicebant peregrinum
[you see, in the past, people used to call a foreigner by this word]

 qui suis legibus uteretur,
[that is, anyone governed by their own laws]

 nunc dicunt eum quem tum dicebant perduellem.
[now people call a "hostis" anybody involved in a conflict at one time or another.]

In quo genere verborum aut casu erit illustrius unde videri possit origo,
[In whatever category or incidence of words it will become more distinguished, in where one's origin might possibly derive,]

inde repetam.
[then there will be the place I shall look back to.]

Ita fieri oportere apparet,
[So it appears that it need happen]

quod recto casu quom, dicimus inpos,
[that in the correct case by which we say "inpos"]

 obscurius est esse a potentia
[it means more subtle "without a sense of power"]

 quam cum dicimus inpotem;
[which is different when we say "inpotem"]

 et eo obscurius fit,
[and in this case it becomes even more subtle,]

 si dicas pos quam inpos:
[should you say 'pos' rather than 'impos']

 videtur enim pos significare potius pontem quam potentem.
[you see, 'pos' seems to mean rather 'a bridge' than 'someone who is capable']

Vetustas pauca non depravat, multa tollit.
[Old practices do not distort a few things, but rather it expose many.]

Quem puerum vidisti formosum,
[The very same boy you have once seen to be handsome,]

hunc vides deformem in senecta.
[you now behold him as ugly in his old age.]

Tertium seculum non videt eum hominem quem vidit primum.
[The third stage of his life does not imagine this man as it once saw him.]

Quare illa quae iam maioribus nostris ademit oblivio,
[By the same token, the passage of time now takes away those very same things that belonged to our predecessors,]

fugitiva secuta sedulitas Muci et Bruti retrahere nequit.
[and its sneaky sluggishness can not recall the deeds of Mucius and Brutus.]

Non, si non potuero indagare, eo ero tardior,
[No, if I will have failed to make inquiry, I will be all the more too tardy,]

sed velocior ideo, si quivero.
[but, on the on other hand, should I been able to manage, all the more ahead of pace.]

Non mediocres enim tenebrae in silva ubi haec captanda neque eo quo pervenire volumus semitae tritae,
[You see, there is significant cloudiness in the forest where to wherever destination I wish to arrive, the trails are worn down, and yet I must take hold of these matters,]

neque non in tramitibus quaedam obiecta quae euntem retinere possent.
[nor could very same obstacles manage to hold back a man traveling along its paths.]

Quorum verborum novorum ac veterum discordia omnis in consuetudine communi,
[Of which new words, and old,  all is discord in how our community uses them,]

quot modis commutatio sit facta qui animadverterit,
[and whoever turns their attention to how many ways the shifting to and fro come to happen,]

facilius scrutari origines patietur verborum:
[he might find to easier to investigate the origins of the words:]

reperiet enim esse commutata,
[you see, he will find that the words have changed,]

ut in superioribus libris ostendi,
[just like I illustrated in the books before,]

maxime propter bis quaternas causas.
[and most of all on account of eight reasons.]

Litterarum enim fit demptione aut additione et propter earum traiectionem aut commutationem,
[You see, it occurs from the dropping or adding of letters, or on account of the connecting or changing of them,]

item syllabarum productione aut correptione, 
[or likewise, by their production or correption,]

denique adiectione aut detrectione;
[or finally, by their addition or removal;]

quae quoniam in superioribus libris cuiusmodi essent exemplis satis demonstravi,
[and since these are things that I have shown quite enough using all kinds of examples in my previous books,]

hic ammonendum esse modo putavi. 
[I came to the conclusion that I must now issue a warning.]