My final Latin composition; I thought it was rather fun.

P.S: Small disclaimer from Grammar Nazi Cat:

So don’t steal it, k?

“Non omne comminatio est hostis.”

Olim urbs quae deīs amavī erat. Prius urbs factus erat, populī in mediō terrae perliculosae habitāvērunt, cui tuta nōn fuit, nam multa monstra habuit. Pessimae bestiae magnitudis magnae et virīs fuērunt ne vincerentur. Terra concinerata et cum sepulcīs factus erat.

Sed deī populōrum hōrum miseruērunt nam religiosī fuērunt, et simper altara eōrum honorāre memoraverant – etiam in tempore moestitiae. Cum tempestate bonā et autumnīs munificīs eōs benedixērunt, et civitatem aluērunt.

Etiam, deī “Terminus” in sospitatem eōrum commodum praecipuum capissivit. Terminō deō finitonum et murōrum, Terminus decrevit murum faciendus esse, ut populī possint de monstrīs perliculosīs ipsōs defendere. Etsi nōnnullī deī sapientiae Terminum nōn intercedere monuērunt, eum adjuvāre desiderāvit. Post multa diēs, Terminus virum invenit, quem adjuvāre potuit. Nomen eī fuit “Hadrianus.”

Cum auxiliō Hadrianī, populī murum magnum circa domicilium fuērunt, quem eōs de monstrīs defendit. Cum vigore, cito provenērunt, et urbs magna esse surrexērunt. Et propter sacrificia populī gratī, deī beātī fuērunt.

Sed Terminus eīs urbem expandere desiderāvit, tam libellum speciale ex librarō sanctō, quod narrāverit quam vincere monstrum terrae. Ex caelō libellum demisit, et is ab populō invenit, quō mox terram periculō levaērunt. Monstrō captuō, populum sensērunt eōs requisivisse murum, nec salutem eius. Ignavus exisitērunt, et potestatis et civitatis cogitāre incepērunt. Altarem eōrum dedicērunt, et super rem frivolam pugnavērunt.

Longe urbs huius audivērunt, et bellāre decrevērunt ut illam terram acquirerent. Dixērunt; “Hanc urbem petāmus, quam tam superbam est. Sine monstrīs, mox exercitus urbem advenit. Urbs, sub unō duce nōn potest conciliāre, cito victae sunt et ab rē publicā capissitae sunt, quam Mārs amata erat. Cum magnō dedecore, Terminus urbem eius Mārī dedit. Mārs, victor, solam commam dixit: “Nōn omne comminatio est hostis.”

Society has interesting names for people who decide they want to do the same thing forever. Some positive, some not. We have “terminal bachelors” (aka George Clooney) and also “old maids” (aka librarians, sadly). We have “eternal optimists” and “eternal pessimists,” “career politicians” and those who will “go down with the ship.”

But what about the eternal student?

There are positive versions of this, of course: my grandfather was a member of a Life-long Learning program, and he had earned more credits in his lifetime than anyone in the history of the University. He had studied in some way at colleges all over, and out of, the country. But he also held regular jobs at the same time, so maybe we can’t exactly put him in this category. But should we?

While browsing around, I came across this interesting article titled “How to become an eternal student,” (source) in which the author poses theories about the different types of students:

“Most often when one refers to an eternal student the automatic assumption is that of the Truly Dedicated Eternal Student. This is often a student who has chosen random and rather bizarre course work. You most often find these students among Classical Studies or History students. The reason is simple. No one cares about those majors except the people in them. Who really needs to major in Sanskrit anymore? It’s a five thousand year old dead language. So students of these types of majors can always find something old to study and claim the need to study that fully before they move into “the real world”.”

And this is where I really started to chuckle:

“These students can always find something else to study because the stuff has been around so darn long. Since no one cares about these studies anymore these students are free to hide is the sunlight-deprived coroners of dusty libraries and remain free from responsibility. The major difficulty in being a truly Dedicated Eternal Student is to lie convincingly enough so that the parents, friends, the university, and financial supporters all believe that the student needs to remain ensconced in their studies.”

And I cannot deny that there is some truth in this. As a medievalist, and a student of Latin, there is a definite scorn from some people out there – the beauty of it being that the scornful ones usually don’t have a clue about such topics, so you can project an atmosphere of learned intelligence that tells them to back the f*&# off.

And then we come to the next type:

“The Multiple Degrees Eternal Student is a nefarious schemer. This student is the only eternal student to ever actually earn a degree. And not only do they earn one degree, but they earn several. The primary goal of this type of student is to have more letters after their name than in their name. They will earn a BA and a BS and an MA, MS, MPH, JD, MBA, MD, PhD, DrPH, and on and on and on. In some ways this Eternal Student is the most talented and most conniving of all Eternal Students.

Not only must they posses the intelligence and talent for earning these many degrees but they must convince others that they actually need these degrees. The danger, however, in being a Multiple Degrees eternal student is that, unlike other eternal students, these individuals have actually completed acceptable levels of education. At some point their financial support will revolt due to the immense financial burden these multiple degrees impose and the student is generally told to go ahead and utilize their degrees. The best counterattack to this type of difficulty is to be educated out of any possible job and so, after a brief interval, return to higher education.”

Hmmm, this is dangerously close to the conversation I’ve been having with myself lately, upon nearing the completion of my current degree. Something along the lines of, “maybe I should go to law school…” And let us not deny that along with the ability to bullshit in prose that comes with an English degree is the ability to bullshit others into thinking  that all the money spend on said degree is well-spent, and that you would be wise to spend more. Nefarious scheming, indeed.

The article closes with this piece of wisdom:

“The privilege of Eternal Student-dom is not to be taken lightly. At no other point in your life is it a) acceptable that you not know what you are doing b) normal for people to give you excessive amounts of money and c) expected that you will do dumb things.”

Now my question is, is this article serious in it’s admiration of students, or is it mocking their very existence? I can’t help but wonder if eternal students were ever respected culturally, or always viewed as some sort of self-fulfilling characacher.

There is a tendency to believe that school is not “the real world.” But what is the alternative; “the imaginary world?” Sound more fun, in my opinion. What does the “real world” offer you? Whatever it is, we need Prozac and Ambien to deal with it.

If I can make a living out of living in the “imaginary world,” you can bet that’s where I’ll be. And it seems to me that most people worth knowing will be there too.


It is my firm belief that one should watch assorted Monty Python on a regulated basis, because it makes you think about the important things in life.

Or at the very least, its well-crafted British humour (note the spelling) may lead you to wonder about poignant, worldly intellectual issues. Or at least ponder its funnies.

Take, for example, a scene from The Holy Grail, in which the knights are attempting to decipher an inscription that will lead them to the grail:

Brother Maynard: "It reads: ‘Here may be found the last words of Joseph of Arimathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of A-a-a-a-a-gh…"

King Arthur: "What?"
Maynard: "The Castle of A-a-a-a-a-gh."
Bedevere: "What is that?"
Maynard: "He must’ve died while carving it."
Lancelot: "Oh, come on."
Maynard: "Well, that’s what it says."
King Arthur: "Look, if he was dying, he wouldn’t bother to carve ‘A-a-a-a-gh.’ He’d just say it."
Maynard: "That’s what’s carved in the rock."
Galahad: "Perhaps he was dictating."


And this made me think of all the times throughout history when spelling, grammar, and authorial intent has gone flying out the window, often spectacularly.

Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of translation:imageMmmm, tasty.

Or maybe, a word is left out:

image I don’t see this ending well…

Perhaps, a well-intended handwritten sign:image

Or even “intellectuals” asleep on the jobimage

The word ‘phusei’ was spelled with an ‘S’ rather than the Greek letter sigma, which looks similar to a capital ‘E.’ Whoops!




And then we go back in time, and see odd junk like this, where even the chisel doesn’t make excuses for the illegible mess.

(But, then again, even the Romans F’ed up – and we know they were the shit. )


Or maybe some careless craftsman broke it, and left it there to puzzle future scholars, and to inspire countless future theses and dissertations.

  And for that reason, I offer my thanks to humanity, for keeping the wonder/frustration/scholarship/face-palming alive since the B.C’s.



Wrapped up in my love of all things written is a passion for words, and, respectively, their origins. After all, who doesn’t get a kick out of knowing that “bookworm” comes from the name for “a group of insects which largely have in common their love of devouring parts of books and other documents?”1 

Well I do.

Therefore, when a question about the word “embarrass” came up in my Latin class last week (we were learning superlatives and I think it was the double “s” that clinched it) I decided to look it up (ok, so I decided to do this while typing up thesis notes, but don’t judge me, procrastination is an art – and have I told you the origin of “procrastination?” Oh yes, I think I have.)


First we must visit our old friend the OED, who tells us that “Embarrass, v” first means:

1. trans. To encumber, hamper, impede (movements, actions, persons moving or acting)."

b. pass. Of persons: To be ‘in difficulties’ from want of money; to be encumbered with debts.


And then the 2nd definition, part B, is,

b. To make (a person) feel awkward or ashamed, esp. by one’s speech or actions; to cause (someone) embarrassment."

Then we come across this helpful passage:

“The English word embarrassed has taken an unusual path into English. The first written usage of embarrass in English was in 1664 by Samuel Pepys in his diary. The word was derived from the French word embarrasser, "to block," or "obstruct",1 whose first recorded usage was by Michel de Montaigne in 1580. The French word was derived from the Spanish embarazar, whose first recorded usage was in 1460 in Cancionero de Stúñiga (Songbook of Stúñiga) by Álvaro de Luna.2 The Spanish word comes from the Portuguese embaraçar, which is a combination of the prefix em- (from Latin im- for "in-") with baraço or baraça, "a noose", or "rope".3 Baraça originated before the Romans began their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 218 BC.4 Thus, baraça could be related to the Celtic word barr, "tuft." (Celtic people actually settled much of Spain and Portugal beginning in the 700s BC, the second group of people to do so.)5 However, it certainly is not directly derived from it, as the substitution of r for rr in Ibero-Romantic languages was not a known occurrence.

The Spanish word may come from the Italian imbarazzare, from imbarazzo, "obstacle" or "obstruction." That word came from imbarrare, "to block," or "bar," which is a combination of in-, "in" with barra, "bar" (from the Vulgar Latin barra, which is of unknown origin).6 The problem with this theory is that the first known usage of the word in Italian was by Bernardo Davanzati (1529–1606), long after the word had entered Spanish."2

 Ta-Da! We can now see how the English verb embarrass comes is connected to the Latin verb imbarrare.

And we can also see many of us, sadly, due to out lack of exuberance of funds, are unable to avoid embarrassment in daily life.

BUT – at least we can explain what it means, linguistically. Zing!

My desk is in a state. A state of not having a proper place to live. A state of being halfway through an attempt to create a “concise” scrapbook of my Europe trip while also being overwhelmed with obligatory reading.

This is my stack. DSCN6675



Oh dear. You will see how I try to comfort myself by placing certain fun little chotchkies around the desk, such as my friend the black sheep, perching upon my beloved Terry Eagleton and pile of Latin books. (And I also disagree with you , Urban Dictionary, who claim that chotchkies are “A small piece of worthless crap, a decorative knick knack with little or no purpose.” They clearly have a purpose, duh.)

Perhaps, “as they say,” clutter breeds productivity? But, how excited am I to have several books based on medieval monster theory on my desk?



Good things recently.

[If you aren’t into the whole “glass half-full” thing, you might want to leave now.]image

 1. Being sick: You may be thinking “But illness is generally a bad thing….,” to which I say,  yes, it does suck. Especially when your ears are completely stuffed up and you have a Latin final during a time when you wish you could be at home watching re-runs and trying not to get sucked into the abyss of a head cold. But, what does not suck is when you start feeling better, and every day you wake up you feel progressively more like a human being again. Ah, to be able to appreciate the everyday normal workings of one’s sinuses. Plus, whenever I start getting down about my allergies (which are at their best right now, as I live in the capital of tall-growing sneezy grasses) I remember that they aren’t as bad as the recent evil cold.

image Ok, so I don’t have a window, but still…

2. New Job! So, as of this week, teaching English 99 will soon be over. Classes themselves are officially over. No more lectures about topic sentences and thesis statements, no more fervent 1a.m. grading sessions. I’m a bit sad not to be teaching at SSU anymore, but I was also getting a bit weary of it all. But, I will not be unemployed in the Fall – you’re looking at (well, reading at) SSU’s newly-appointed WEPT person. Which means an office upgrade; I get my very own little office (with a door and everything!) in a corner of SSU’s administrative building with which to do lovely WEPT-related tasks. I can only thank God (or the patron saint of employment, whatever) for giving me a reason to be away from home and to have a space of my own (well, for a time anyway) at school where I may escape into the small, bureaucratic world of filing, phone answering, and email replying. 

3. Finishing Latin: One whole year, down! Now to decide if I want to submit myself to the slightly-masochistic realm of language one again. I’m also considering French…whenever I look into Ph.D programs the language requirement makes me feel rather inadequate as an intellectual. I’ll work on it.


4. Europe Trip: Less than 2 weeks away! Am I freaking out a little? Yep. Am I still in disbelief that I’m going, and that I actually have the money to pay for it myself? Indeed. Very, very excited.

5. Gluten-Free Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts: Enough said.

Overall, general bounciness. I still have a pile of work to do before the semester ends, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. A super-shiny-travelly-light.

Happy April 1st, everyone! As per the relative randomness popping up on the internet, I’m officially declaring it Monty Python Day. Please enjoy the random-intelligent-nonsense that is the Life of Brian.

(If my Latin class was like this, I might have memorized my declensions earlier…)


What’s this thing? "ROMANES EUNT DOMUS"? "People called Romans they go the house?"
It… it says "Romans go home".
No it doesn’t. What’s Latin for "Roman"?

Brian hesitates

Come on, come on!
(uncertain) "ROMANUS".
Goes like?
Vocative plural of "-ANUS" is?
(takes paintbrush from Brian and paints over) "RO-MA-NI". "EUNT"? What is "EUNT"?
Conjugate the verb "to go"!
"IRE"; "EO", "IS", "IT", "IMUS", "ITIS", "EUNT".
So "EUNT" is …?
Third person plural present indicative, "they go".
But "Romans, go home!" is an order, so you must use the …?

He lifts Brian by his short hairs

The … imperative.
Which is?
Um, oh, oh, "I", "I"!
How many Romans? (pulls harder)
Plural, plural! "ITE".

Centurion strikes over "EUNT" and paints "ITE" on the wall

"I-TE". "DOMUS"? Nominative? "Go home", this is motion towards, isn’t it, boy?
(very anxious) Dative?

Centurion draws his sword and holds it to Brian’s throat

Ahh! No, ablative, ablative, sir. No, the, accusative, accusative, ah, DOMUM, sir.
Except that "DOMUS" takes the …?
… the locative, sir!
Which is?
(satisfied) "DOMUM"…

He strikes out "DOMUS" and writes "DOMUM"

…"-MUM". Understand?
Yes sir.
Now write it down a hundred times.
Yes sir, thank you sir, hail Caesar, sir.
(saluting) Hail Caesar. If it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.
(very relieved) Oh thank you sir, thank you sir, hail Caesar and everything, sir!

Now for [something completely different!] those of you who are not of a “delicate” constitution: