Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Swiftian Latin

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), In My Company:
In mi cum pani praedixit:
Claret finis ne ver mixit.
Cantu tellus Dicas tori;
Tingat super Tori rori.
Aleto claret adit basis:
Tosta Laedi, fieri faces.
This looks like Latin. "Finis" means "end," "tellus" means "earth," "super" means "above," etc. But in combination, the words make no sense in Latin. However, if you say the poem out loud, it does makes sense phonetically in English:
In my company pray, Dick, sit.
Claret fine is, never mix it.
Can't you tell us, Dick, a story;
Sing at supper "Tory Rory."
Ale to claret added base is.
Toast a lady, fiery faces.
Swift wrote four jeux d'esprit like this. For another, see here.

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