On the Manifest Erudition of Ms. Sweet Brown

(Latin for Addicts recently celebrated its first birthday, so I thought I’d have some fun with this one.)

In a recent interview with KFOR News Channel 4, Ms. Sweet Brown suggested to a reporter that neither she nor anyone has the time in their lives to deal with the drastic inconvenience of developing bronchitis. Because her phrasing was fairly inconsistent with English prescriptivist snark, she received extended (and continued) mockery around the internet for her statement.

As Latinists, we ought to redeem Ms. Brown in light of her public shaming by demonstrating the extent to which her grammar is entirely acceptable in the Roman view. If we remind the present-day, pedantic peddlers of grammatical ‘rules’ that many such rules were founded on a failed attempt to create an English register which imitated the grammar of Latin, then they will be forced to admit that not only does Ms. Brown’s statement conform to this grammar, but also reaches the highest registers of Augustan verse poetry.

Let us review the statement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udS-OcNtSWo

“I got bronchitis. Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

The first portion of Ms. Brown’s statement, ‘I got bronchitis,’ correctly expresses the passive role of a victim in the context of a disease. The proper phrase, ‘I caught bronchitis,’ uses an equally Germanic verb ‘catch,’ which effects a clumsy idiom, since none of us heads out with a net (or an open mouth) deliberately seeking disease. Instead, disease attacks us, and Ms. Brown has rightly made use of the passive ‘get,’ which we see holds a passive sense in the following exempla: ‘I got your letter.’ ‘I got gum on my shoe.’ ‘I got laid.’ Her phrase, ‘I got bronchitis,’ is nicely aligned with these counterparts, whereas ‘I caught the letter,’ ‘I caught gum on my shoe,’ and ‘I caught laid,’ all render various awkward images. It seems Ms. Brown was calling attention to the inappropriate nature of this ‘correct’ English idiom and substituting the more appropriate ‘got.’

The second portion of Ms. Brown’s statement, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that,’ replicates the sort of double negation, internal elision and relative pronominal ellipsis achieved only in the highest register of Latin verse. Her phrase might be rendered thus in the Latin:

nōn nullō est tempus ad istum.

Why, we can even see that Ms. Brown’s statement could nicely produce a line of hexameter.

Bronchitatum tūlī. Nōn nullō tempus ad ist’ est.

—–

The woman is brilliant. Make no mistake. Below are the references in AG for double negatives, elision and ellipsis.

The Essential AG: 326a, 612, 640

Latin for Addicts at 50+ Posts

This is my 55th post on the blog, and I’d like to pause for a moment to express (discuss) where it’s taken me.

PAST

The blog was designed as a learning-teaching tool for use with the students I would aid as a Teaching Assistant this summer in the Latin course at the Center of Talented Youth. Unfortunately, I had a sample of academic disappointment when I discovered that CTY demanded that I as return as a member of ResLife, and that they have given the position of TA to (naturally) a graduate student.

I carried forward with the project, for my own benefit, and saw certain results. To begin, the blog has become something of a diagnostic for my own personal ‘loose ends’ in Latin grammar. To that cause, it bears great aid. I’ve been studying Latin for less than two years (Greek for about four), and I’m already more confident about Latin grammar than I am about Greek.

PRESENT

My recent adventure, with Dative Verbs, suggests I should stray from ‘large projects’ in the future. Because of this project, I’ve been less than enthusiastic about the blog for the past two weeks or so, despite a recent surge in readership (thanks in whole to the Rogue Classicist).

http://rogueclassicism.com/

Like most bloggers, I like to tinker with little thoughts. Mine happen to demand that I improve my precision with Latin grammar. I hope you’re pulling something ripe from this blog. I know I am.

FUTURE

I’ve been withholding humor from the blog, because (to being with) it was designed for young learners. Look for that to change.

Posting frequency will likely dip or for about a month. I am currently employed with the Center for Talented Youth as a Resident Assistant: a position which offers very little free time.

POST-SCRIPT

As a side project for this summer, I’m preparing material for graduate applications in the fall. I’m a rising fourth-year undergraduate, interested in ancient philosophy, with a particular zeal for Plato, his literature, and his reception. If anyone has some (clever/uncommon) advice, I’m all ears.