Sunday, April 04, 2010


Maureen Dowd and the Latin Language

(1) Maureen Dowd, "A Nope for Pope," New York Times (March 27, 2010):
The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests. And this is a historic mess. Benedict should go home to Bavaria. And the cardinals should send the white smoke up the chimney, proclaiming "Habemus Mama."
(2) Maureen Dowd, "Devil of a Scandal" New York Times (April 3, 2010):
Father Cantalamessa went on to quote from the letter of an unnamed Jewish friend: "I am following with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the church, the pope and all the faithful by the whole world. The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt, remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism."

As they say in Latin, "Ne eas ibi." Don't go there.
Dowd needs either Latin lessons or an editor who knows some Latin.

(1) Habemus ("we have") takes a direct object in the accusative case. As the spelling mamma is more common in Latin than mama, read "Habemus Mammam."

(2) With a verb of motion, an adverb or phrase meaning thither is needed, which in Latin could be eo, istuc, illuc, in eum locum, etc. See e.g. Caesar, Gallic Wars 5.11: eo cum venisset, maiores iam undique in eum locum copiae Britannorum convenerant.... Therefore read "Ne eas in eum locum" vel sim.

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