Tuesday, February 7

Latin Memories

It is not often the Gnome's classical education is called on in an everday situation, but just occasionally it turns out to have been a useful investment by his parents. Although long dimmed by the passing of time, he does have a smattering of Latin, learnt at the hands of the ever-so strict Mr Charles, whose response to any hesitation to provide an appropriate conjugation of a verb such as evinco (evinco, evincere, evici, evictus if the Gnome recalls correctly) met with a disproportionately violent assault on the knuckles with a 12" wooden ruler.

Today of course, one could report this to the the United Nation Security Council who would provide supportive words and quite possibly a threat of military action, but at the time no such redress was available to 11 year old schoolboys. Indeed, considering the malevolent glee that Mr Charles took in graphically describing the cruel and unusual punishments meted out to Roman legionnaires who transgressed in some fashion, perhaps the Gnome and his fellow pupils of Form 3G were lucky to have been let off with only the occasional reddened knuckle.

But the Gnome digresses. The reason he is bringing up fond memories of school boy Latin is the recent 'brainstorming' session he attended to come up with new names for a company attempting a rebranding exercise. Anyone who has attended these things will know they begin with long awkward silences where nobody wishes to look foolish by suggesting a name that is immediately decried by their peers as ridiculous and without any redeeming features, so the Gnome always feels obliged to set things rolling (as - so long as his company keeps paying him - he has little concern if clients think he is a moron).

This is where the Latin comes in, for it can provide words that sound impressive to marketing executives who know no better. After a few Latin words were aired and discarded, the group moved onto the idea that their company would be best served by naming it after a colour, but with the added psuedo-credibility of translating it into Latin.

And that's when everyone turned to the Gnome and asked him to reel off colours in Latin.

Now, in every other language he has studied, colours were right up there at the front of the basic text book, hovering just after vocabulary to describe things you find in a classroom. Thus, within a few weeks, the eager pupil can ask questions along the lines of 'Where is the yellow ruler?', 'Please could you pass the orange book?' and 'Tell Smithers he has a green bogey hanging out of his nose.'

But for the life of him, the Gnome could not remember ever being taught the Latin words for colours, and he sat there, helpless in the glare of his clients, with his reputation as a classically educated expert on the Latin language in tatters.

1 comment:

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