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#119604 - 01/12/04 03:15 AM scatty  
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Father Steve Offline
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In the article on Latin in The Economist to which Anu refers us in AWADmail issue 108, the following line appears: "No matter that Latin, in the last decades of its heyday, was as dog-eared and scatty as any other well-used language, and that the Latin of the street (or, for that matter, the walls) often ignored the rules."

I had rather thought that "scatty" (1) was slang and (2) meant absent-minded, forgetful, not mentally focused. What does it mean in this sentence?



#119605 - 01/12/04 11:03 AM Re: scatty  
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The first thing that occurred to me was jazz/scat improvisation. The second thing that occurred to me was that dog-eared and scatty kinda go together.


#119606 - 01/12/04 11:15 AM Re: scatty  
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My tiny bit of knowledge on the subject of Latin includes the notion that Vulgar Latin and Classical Latin were quite different languages. Expecting Vulgar Latin to follow the rules of Classical Latin would be the rough equivalent of expecting baseball to follow the rules of cricket.


#119607 - 01/12/04 02:06 PM Re: scatty  
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was as dog-eared and scatty as any other well-used language

scatalogical? -- as likely to refer to scat (animal dropping/fecal matter) as well as noble thoughts..
shit, its just an thought!


#119608 - 01/12/04 02:30 PM Re: scatty  
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Partridge has an entry for scatty: "(Not) very mad; crazy; lower classes'" He suggests it may have come from scatterbrained or Derbyshire dialect word scattle 'easily frightened'.

As for Vulgar versus Classical Latin, I think that the Economist author has simplified matters. Classical Latin is a conservative register and was pretty much a language that was learned in school. Vulgar Latin was spoken, colloquial Latin. Of course, it's hard to keep class out of this just as with English and its various dialects. There are examples of what spoken Latin must've been like in the Plautine plays which pre-date the Roman Emprie by nearly two centuries, Petronius' novel Satyricon, and lots of graffiti from Pompey and elsewhere. Classicists differ between Golden and Silver Ages of Classical Latin; Petronius, Pliny, and Lucan are considered Silver Age authors. Some differences between CL and VL were phonological, e.g., the diphthong -au- becoming a vowel -o-, the final -m of the accusative singular being more of a nasalization of the preceeding vowel, lexical, e.g., replacing the classical caput 'head' with testa 'pot', and even syntactic, e.g., replacing ut with the subjunctive with quia and the indicative. These are also some of the things that happened or were carried over into the Romance languages as they developed. In the end, VL was pretty much comprehensible to the upper classes in much the same way that many "sub-standard" dialects of English are understood by folks who speak a more upperclass register of "standard" English. So less baseball and cricket, than baseball and stickball.


#119609 - 01/12/04 03:10 PM Re: Vulgar vs. Classical  
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In the book From Latin to Portuguese (as best I can remember the title) mention is made of tense handling in Vulgar vs. Classical Latin. In short, tenses which were indicated by inflectional endings in CL were often indicated periphrastically (is that the right word here?) in VL, e.g., 'I will write' rather than something like 'I writera,' where the future is indicated by the -era ending.


#119610 - 01/12/04 03:20 PM Re: Vulgar vs. Classical  
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In short, tenses which were indicated by inflectional endings in CL were often indicated periphrastically

Yes. The development of the Romance future from past participle plus habere took place in more than Portuguese. Whether this was a late Vulgar Latin phenomenon or an early Proto-Romance one is hard to tell, as texts are scanty. I seem to remember Varo or Priscian talking about periphrastic constructions, but I may be wrong. You see the same thing in many present European dialects: the replacement of the inflected preterite with a periphrastic perfect. 'I sang' versus 'I have sung' kind of thing. The inflected versions tend to be more irregular.


#119611 - 01/12/04 05:33 PM Re: scatty  
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I've sometimes heard it referred to messy or scattered...
Or perhaps it meant that it was becoming dog-eared and disorganised?


#119612 - 01/12/04 08:59 PM scatology  
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Can we, then, infer that "Classical" and upperclass shall forever be unified, somehow, no matter what new musicians (or linguists for that matter) expect/attempt to redefine? [no appropriate emoticon available]

**********

...less baseball and cricket, than baseball and stickball.

jheem - I took Faldage's original comparison to be "cricket and baseball", using your ordering.



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