Timeo Danaos, or let's enjoy the Romanian language together.

Saturday, 10 January, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Motto: She's a whore, she doesn't mind.

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes is a Latin expression. What does it mean ? Something like "I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts."

Something like.

The cannonical form in Romanian is "Ma tem de greci si cind aduc daruri". It's plain and the translation readily apparent : ma tem, I fear. Present active indicative, nothing plainer could be said in any language. But what do I fear ? Eh... well... the Greeks. Always and everywhere, the Greeks. L'esprit de finesse, always and everywhere the thing to fear for all those that have something to fear for, the blessed geometres of the world. That murky, slatterny, fearsome Greekness.

"Si cind aduc daruri". Daruri is gifts, that part's simple. Aduc is to bring, also present-active-indicative, plain as day. Cind is when, and si is and, faithful to the Latin original but barely relatable to the English even. So the Romanian cannonical really says "I fear the Greeks, and when bring gifts". Not really English, in any sense, but perfectly good Romanian.

Another perfectly valid Romanian version'd be "Ma tem de greci, si de-ar fi aducind daruri." This one's tenser in Romanian, but closer to the original intent. Still "I fear the Greeks", but now "even were they bringing gifts" is much more palatable in English. There's a lot more going on in there than previously, a gerund at work, a counterfactual tense... The divorce between function (bringing gifts) and being (Greeks) is made quite explicit, something like "I hate Injuns with warpaint or without" is a lot closer to the surface now.

Just as good, "Ma tem de greci, fie si facatori de daruri", "I fear the Greeks be they gift makers" is slightly closer to the Latin, even though facator is the participle of a face which comes from facio not feroi. At least it displays the sparkling ambiguity of fieii.

But the plain truth of the matter is... I do not actually fear the Greeks. They aren't, as it were, Greek enough.

Insufficiently Byzantine, what a failure mode!

———
  1. To bring, carry ; also to endure. []
  2. It's not clear if it speaks to the general mode of counterfactuality, "let it be", "fiat" or to the specific case of the Greeks in question. It could readily be "fie si facatori de daruri sa fie", which'd be "let them even be gift makers", the first fie = let them and the second "[sa] fie" = be. Obviously this implies Romanian has more tenses and carries more tension than English - which is broadly true. This "fir-ar sa fie" form is oft used in various imprecations, for that matter. []
Category: Trilenciclopedia
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2 Responses

  1. [...] Metaphorically speaking both groups find themselves in the position of that weird bachelor uncle who mutters a lot and collects garbage. The one that spends 14 hours a day in the garage, working on his perpetuum mobile under another name. The one that goes to Alaska to become a sourdough miner and spends the rest of his days alone in a cabin upon a windswept glacier, playing with his rock collection. The one that will manage to deny fundamental laws through careful application of exceptional exceptions. Really, there's an excellent reason both groups are so rhetorically able : they're both born out of an unchecked, malignant metastasis of finesse. [...]

  2. [...] Timeo Danaos, or let's enjoy the Romanian language together. Let's address some of the more common pseudo-arguments raised by the very stupid people that like [...]

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