(Love’s Labours Lost, act 5, sc. 1)
Comment. The day has finally come when my immensely useless learning (see “About the author” in the menu for details) can be put to task.
With all respect for the Pope and for the Catholics, Benedict XVI’s resignation Latin speech contains (2) errors.
Says the text, “Fratres carissimi Non solum propter tres canonizations ad hoc Concistorium vos convocavi, sed etiam ut vobis decisionem magni momenti pro Ecclesiae vitae communicem….”
Translation, “Dear brothers, Not only for three canonizations I have convoked you to this Consistory, but also to communicate to you a decision of great moment for the life of the Church.”
Now then, an ablative, NOT a genitive is called for in “the life of the Church”. That is “pro Ecclesiae vita” and NOT “pro Ecclesiae vitae.”
And later “…necessaries est, qui ultimis mensibus in me modo tali minuitur, ut incapacitatem meam ad ministerium mihi commissum bene administrandum agnoscere debeam…”
Translation, “…(maintaining vigor of body and spirit) is necessary, vigor that during the last months was so reduced that I must recognize my incapacity to administer the ministry entrusted to me.”
“Ad ministerium mihi commissum” employs an accusative sentence structure where instead a dative is called for, “ministerio mihi commisso.”
With all respect to His Holiness, notwithstanding the errors, the Latin in question is vastly superior to that understood by Mistress Quickly in the Merry Wives of Windsor. Where Master Evans, a Welshman (whose accent is reproduced by the misspellings), teaches Latin to William Page, son of Mr. and Mrs. Page. And the said Welsh pronunciation prompts Mistress Quickly to deliver her own interpretation of Evans’ Latin, as follows,
EVANS (to pupil). I pray you, have your remembrance, child; Accusativo, hing, hang, hog.
MISTRESS QUICKLY (listening). “Hang hog” is Latin for bacon, I warrant you.
Nor we should overlook the answer that Queen Catherine gives Cardinal Wolsey, her enemy who addresses her in Latin,
I am not such a truant since my coming,
As not to know the language I have lived in:
A strange tongue makes my cause more strange, suspicious;
Pray, speak in English” (King Henry VIII, act 3, sc. 1)
In other words, “No Latin please, we are British”.
All this and other equally useless knowledge you will find in the book, “Your Daily Shakespeare.”
Suggestion for use. Express your skepticism at a proposal or idea even if expressed in English. And if he says, “But I am speaking English” reply “Perhaps, but I cannot understand you.”