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Inspirational Reads

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol LXI

March 5, 2010

The other day, as I was flipping through the radio dial doing my damnedest to avoid commercials (I'm such an asshole...I listen to free radio, but not the commercials), I settled for a moment on the talk radio dial because I wanted to listen to the news for the day. Naturally, there was a little bit of discussion prior to the news and the host and his guest were discussing the stimulus package that had been passed last year. Except, they didn't refer to it as the "stimulus" package, they called it the "porculus" package.

This amused me greatly.

Okay, so I get it. Whoever coined the term "porculus" thought they were being clever because the bill was loaded with pork. What bill moving through congress hasn't been saddled with pork? It's not like this is anything new. This is not the thing that amused me, however.

No, the thing that amused me was that "porculus" is actually a Latin word. It's translation is near and dear to all of our hearts. For, you see, porcus is the Latin word for "pig", and the ending -ulus is used for making the diminutive form. Therefore, porculus means "little pig", or, even better, it means Piglet.

Wait! That seems ready-made for translation of a children's book into Latin!

There are several modern books that have been transliterated into Latin. For instance, Quomodo invidiosulus nomine Grinchus Christi natalem abrogaverit (How the Grinch stole Christmas) or Virent ova! Virent Perna! (Green Eggs and Ham). Oh, and someone might enjoy a copy of Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis. Just sayin...

And there's my personal favorite, Winnie Ille Pu.

Ah, brilliant! I can almost hear Porculus telling Pu:

Pu, tuum caput ex orca mellis amoves!

Pronounced: "Pyoo, too-oom cah-poot ex ohr-cah may-leese ah-moh-ways!"

Sweet and sticky translation in the hovertext

And, because I can never leave well enough alone...the Latin word for "jar" is "orca". It means "a container with a wide belly and a narrow neck", and is related to the Old Germanic word from which Tolkien derived the word "Orc". Our word for the killer whale, orca, also comes from this original root, as Orcus was a god of the underworld and a punisher of evil souls, somewhat similar to our modern concept of the devil as a punisher of the wicked. The whole derivation of the term is a bit convoluted, and Tolkien himself denied that there was any connection, but as there are several instances of similarities between Germanic and Norse mythology and that of various Latin deities, it's not too much of a jump to say that "orcus", the punisher of dead and evil souls and "horcus" (or "horkus"), Early Germanic for "imp, devil" come from the same roots. And, in case you were wondering, "ogre" comes from the same roots (via French influence).

Deny it all you want, John Ronald Reuel, but I'm onto you.


EmcogNEATO! said...

You're like a freakin' blogging OED! Fascinating.

BigSis said...

What is so amazing to me is that this knowledge doesn't seem to leak out over the years. I can't remember as much as I used to know.

carissajade said...

So the word Orka basically comes from the devil and people are all in shock when a killer whale kills someone? And porculous sounds like it could mean something dirty. I'm taking it and changing it, in fact.

Eric said...

*looks out the window with hands behind back for dramatic effect*

...and on Thursdays you often talk of pooh, so the circle is now complete.

Bev said...

I will never hear "stimulus package" again without thinking of it as a "Piglet Package."


Cora said...

Well, looky who's getting linky with me today! ;-)

As for Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, I do actually own a copy, Jenks. Good call. You're very wise!

mo.stoneskin said...

I tend to keep pigs out of politics. After what they did to Animal Farm I don't trust them.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Sometimes, your blog makes my friday-head hurt.

But, pooh bear(!) makes it all better.

Sully said...

I love this feature!!!

Scope said...

I thought "orca" meant "ponytail holder".

Too soon?

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

How would you say a BIG pork laden stimulus package?

I wonder if Rowling took Horcrux from strange mutation of horkus?

Nej said...

Piglet used to drive me nuts when I watched him as a kid. :-)