abundancy

Peter Abelard sez of Heloise: “Que cum per faciem non esset infima, per habundantiam litterarum erat suprema.” [She was hot, and also supreme in abundance of letters.  -d]

I find his misspelling “habundantiam” interesting. It pretty much means that he’s no longer seeing the metaphor in the verb abundare – since unda means wave, this verb is literally something like “overflow” – the image, to me, is of waves spilling out. But nobody spells ab, “from”, as hab, not even Abelard. So it looks to me like he’s probably not hip to the metaphor.

Hidden metaphors like this were so cool to me when I was first learning Spanish. They say “sobrevenir” for “overcome”. How crazy is that?!

And it’s not just word-to-word correspondences like that – where Latin has the verb convenire, the source of our “convenient”, we use the expression “everything’s coming together nicely” and the like.

Some might say this sort of thing hints at universal structures in the human mind. Others might excoriate them for drawing such broad conclusions based on only a few Indo-European languages. The former parties would no doubt agree that to be a problem, and would then have to look into the current research, or learn more languages, or both.

Now let’s all think about the metaphor in “inundate”!

6 Responses to “abundancy”

  1. Becky Says:

    It’s definitely worth checking Japanese and other non-IE languages.

    “convenire” must also be the source for convene, which is an even more apt example.

  2. Mirandum Says:

    Dear Inspring and Wonderful Writer Desultor, how would one go about looking for jobs that involve both programming and the use of Latin? Please advise. Many thanks.

  3. Desultor Says:

    Dear Mirandum,

    I can hardly write through all this blush! But I do like to help, so I’ll try.

    The first option to pop into my head is working at the Vatican.

    Another option: you can use the “Perlingata” module to write Perl (mostly) in Latin. Or, if you have to program in some other language, you could write a filter to convert your Latin to that language. It couldn’t be all that hard, right? And while you were at it you could get it to recognize natural Latin instead of the circumscribed dialect Perlingata uses.

    Possibly a third: look for your job at a university somewhere, where you can take classes on the cheap. However, the programming and Latin will still be woefully separate, so I consider this option much less satisfactory than the second. Unless you get to work for the Perseus Project or something…

    Thanks for writing! And good luck!

  4. Chang Branco Says:

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