Sunday, November 13, 2005

Condere et Tradere

Two very interesting houseguests this weekend: PBY, editor of the Smithsonian series on Indonesian music, and TDR, founding editor of the New Hibernia Review. We spent Saturday morning at the Virginia Historical Society. TDR innocently set off a small staff panic by asking what the Society's motto meant in English. At length PBY found an official who volunteered that the trustees had adopted a resolution forbidding translation. But here's what the Latin-English dictionary says:

condo -dere -didi -ditum (1) [to build , found; form, establish]; of literary work, [to compose, write] a poem, etc., and also [to write of] a subject. (2) [to put up, put away safely, store, to hide, withdraw]; of corpses, [to bury]; of time, [to pass, dispose of].

trado (transdo) -dere -didi -ditum [to hand over, give up, surrender, betray; to hand down to posterity]; esp. [to hand down an account of an event, to report, relate, teach]; with reflex. [to commit, surrender, devote oneself].

Not such a mystery then, after all--The Virginia Historical Society: "To Hide and Betray."

Saturday night we drove over to William and Mary for "Pal Joey," for which JRP was sound designer. Not a bad production, but the most unappetizing chorus line since the Triangle Club's "Planet of the Apes" kickline. "It's hard," said TDR truthfully, "to fit 14 eggs in a 12-egg crate."


Blogger Disastra said...

How about "To preserve and reveal"?

November 14, 2005 11:47 AM  
Blogger McAfee said...

The Society used to say "To preserve and hand down" before it stopped speaking English about those things, but I like Hide and Betray. It would be interesting to know if the trustees really did forbid translation and, if so, when and why. Maybe at some point "preservation" took on an unpleasant whiff of magnolia and massive resistance and needed to be Hidden and Betrayed. The Society's publications increasingly use its wordless Battle Abbey logo in place of its Latinate seal.

November 14, 2005 6:43 PM  
Blogger bb said...

makes you think of what the meeting was like over coffee and danish where they discussed and came to a united opinion to never translate the motto agian-
to backtrack a little - i while back you posted a note about the economist in the office next to you and the "banging of heads" since i know a few economist and had thanksgiving with them just this week - your phrasing strikes such a familiar picture in my head that i still laugh outloud when i think of that post-

November 30, 2005 12:35 AM  
Blogger McAfee said...

I tease them about banging their heads against the wall, but the noise I hear in my office is really their defusing nervous energy by drumming on their desks. The nice thing about hanging around with economists, a friend once told me, is that you can say "I've been thinking about something" and it counts as work.

November 30, 2005 8:38 AM  
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