time to focus

Yesterday, I posted the thousandth post on this blog. That means today’s post is number one thousand and one.

As soon as I thought of that number, I found I had the 1960s carpet cleaner jingle in my head:

That in turn reminded me of my time as an EFL teacher and the Spanish student, Diego, who came to class without his deberes. When I asked where his homework was, he replied: “In my carpet.”
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o me miserum

At school, my favourite subject was Latin. If the Classics teacher hadn’t got pregnant I’d have gone on to study Greek, too, and I suspect my life would have been quite different. Instead, over the years I’ve dabbled in maths, economics, English, Spanish, IT, poetry…

Not having a proper classical education has been one of my few regrets, so when I saw this on a poster at the university campus recently I thought perhaps I was going to have a chance to redress the situation:

Latin night poster
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Khayyam, again, and disappearing words

apple blossom
"...under the apple bough"
Yesterday’s post reminded me of a glosa – posted below – but then led me on in leaps and bounds to thinking about vocabulary. Specifically, about the word ‘bough’: when, and how, did I learn it?

It’s not exactly the sort of word that crops up in childhood conversation, so I’m pretty sure I must have read it. Which could either have been in a story or in a poem. Or, I suppose, at Christmas, when we “deck[ed] the halls with boughs of holly”. Perhaps that’s the most likely, as would explain how I learned to pronounce it, too.

The word ‘bough’ probably crops up in plenty of older stories and poems, but how much new writing contains such words?
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“it killed the ancient romans…”

Despite being as ready as any of my classmates to chant the rhyme –

Latin is a language as dead as dead can be;
It killed the ancient Romans, and now it’s killing me.

– Latin was actually my favourite school subject and I have long believed it was the most useful subject I studied.
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automatic writing

Yesterday, I signed off an email to a colleague with the Spanish phrase que te sea leve. It seemed appropriate, knowing that the summer is upon us, compañeros de trabajo are off on holiday and teams that are stretched at the best of times are now at snapping point.

bare bone on bare earth
Let the earth lie light...
“Que te sea leve” ~ “may it (life) be light for you.”

I like the phrase, but had no idea of its derivation.

Fortunately, despite the absence of colleagues, there is usually time for an exchange of ideas and information, and he pointed out that this is more or less what the Romans put on the tombstones of loved ones:

Sic tibi terra levis. ~ Let the earth lie light upon you.

What a lovely phrase.

Still, that’s all rather incidental to this post, which was prompted by the actual physical act of typing que te sea leve, rather than by its meaning.
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