QUAERITUR: changing “non sum dignus” to “digna”

From a reader:

I have a question that arises from something I overheard at an FSSP Mass this morning. When the priest turned to the congregation with the Blessed Sacrament and said "Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi", and the congregation responded with the "Domine, non sum dignus", the elderly lady sitting next to me said "Domine, non sum digna", substituting the feminine adjectival ending to match her own gender (this was clearly audible during all three iterations).

I was quite impressed with her knowledge of Latin, but when I mentioned the incident to a seminarian of my acquaintance he seemed to think this innovation was pretty much on a par with people in the NO Mass substituting entirely different words in the vernacular texts, and thus, by implication, not licit. What would your take on this be?

I think the texts should be read as they are.

If you are going to make responses at Mass, say the texts as they are written. 

This is not just because this particular phrase is from Scripture, but because the Mass texts constitute their own theological locus.

I can understand the desire to make the texts your own.  On the other hand, the baptized person participating at Mass speaks with Christ’s voice and makes Christ’s gestures when it falls to him or her to speak and move.  The Church’s texts must be respected when it is time to speak.

Also, changing a text like that might subtly reinforce the idea that "it’s Father’s Mass".  In other words, "It doesn’t matter what I do, since he is saying the correct text up there.  I can say what I want to make it more meaningful to me."

I don’t think a woman saying digna rather than dignus is terribly harmful.  In the large scheme of things, this wouldn’t be among those cares I would worry over.   Still, I think the texts should be read as they are for various reasons.

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44 Responses to QUAERITUR: changing “non sum dignus” to “digna”

  1. Maureen says:

    Yeah, let’s be inclusive. A good husband is now prized above rubies. Mary is blessed art thou amongst menfolk. Deborah and Miriam are now guys in every reading read by male lectors.

    Oh, wait, that would be stupid….

    If we’re standing in the centurion’s place and playing his role, it’s a bit late to freak out about the centurion’s gender not being the same as mine. We’re not wearing leather Roman skirts, either, but nobody gets all worried about her lack of armor and gladius.

    Shrug. I guess if someone wanted to keep it at the level of a private devotion, something you said at home, that wouldn’t be a problem.

    I would hope and suspect the lady only means her response as a sort of personalization of the prayer, on the level of private devotion. But if you start changing your actual spoken responses at Mass, you might as well change the responses to “Zippidia du daa”.

  2. Fr. Charles says:

    I don’t know whether to be offended by the audacity or in love with the knowledge of Latin!

  3. joe says:

    Incidentally, this is “not uncommon” in Spanish. Not widespread, not rampant, but neither is it a freak occurrence.

    “Señor, no soy digno de que entres en mi casa…” (Masc.)

    vs.

    “Señor, no soy digna de que entres en mi casa…” (Fem.)

    The thinking being not so much of reading from the text as in personally addressing Our Lord. Not defending it, just trying to shed some light.

    AMDG,

  4. Corleone says:

    Father – just as an historical FYI, here in Italy women have always said \”Domine non sum digna\”. This has nothing to do with inclusiveness as Maureen implies, but just correct grammar. I was unaware that women in other parts of the world did not do this as well, assuming they knew the difference between dignus/digna. Maybe it is because of the historical closeness between Italian and Latin, but this is/has been very much the standard (i.e. to use the feminine when a woman recites in Latin).

    I would hazard this was the cultural standard at least in other Romance-speaking countries as well. But I would be interested to find this out from a pre-Vatican II priest. And I know JUST THE ONE : ) Problem is he is not here in Italy, but California, so the trouble will be getting a hold of him (and sooner rather than later, since he is 84 years old).

  5. Tom says:

    Not long after the changes began, but before the NO was in place, I remember reading in the UK Catholic press that Cardinal Heenan, at a Mass for nuns in their convent, decided to use the phrase “Orate, sorores”, instead of ‘fratres”. He said it made more sense, since they were sisters, not brothers.

  6. Corleone says:

    Tom – that makes sense. The liturgy is not a “dead” thing. The priest is actively speaking to people, whether they understand him or not. And since Latin has the masculine/feminine singular/plural it seems to me that to use it correctly when speaking makes just as much sense theologically as it does gramatically.

  7. Jim Kalb says:

    If she were making a private prayer during Mass it would be “digna.” If it’s “digna” when said silently as a private prayer, must it be “dignus” when said audibly?

    So far as I know, the laity voicing the responses during a Tridentine Mass isn’t part of the rubrics. So it seems it has some of the qualities of a private prayer. It accompanies but is not formally part of the rite. Does that make a difference?

  8. Roland de Chanson says:

    Domine, non sumus digni ut intres sub tecta nostra, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabuntur animae nostrae.

    No, wait, that is incomplete.

    Domine et Domina Coredemptrix, nos viri non sumus digni et nos mulieres non sumus dignae ut intretis sub tecta nostra, sed tantum dicite verbo et sanabuntur animae nostrae.

    Sic transit saeva tempestas in calice aquae.

  9. I might disagree with you, father. It seems to me that women saying “digna” rather than “dignus” would help avoid problems such as putting women as “viri selecti”.

  10. Cathy says:

    I thought we said “dignus” because we’re repeating the words of the centurion. I’m trying to picture a centurion saying “Domine non sum digna…”

  11. Jason Keener says:

    Is it possible the lady might be confused and thinks the text really says “digna” or is to be pronounced as “digna” instead of “dignus?” They are pretty close for the average Mass attendee who is probably not that familiar with the workings of Latin grammar or pronunciation. Maybe it was just a coincidence that this lady’s error happened to be the feminine ending. Just a thought.

    Pax Christi.

  12. Fr. Angel says:

    Those words are the words of the Roman centurion. My understanding is that we are spiritually trying to approach with his deep faith and humility. We are quoting the soldier from Scripture, rather than speaking our own words of our own making, and so we say his gender.

    On the other hand, if we quote the Blessed Virgin’s words, even if a man, we say “ecce ancilla Domini.” My opinion is that when Scripture is quoted in Mass as part of prayer, even what we may regard as a personal prayer, we should quote the Scripture verbatim.

  13. Kevin says:

    I’m the seminarian mentioned in the email. In my home parish, during NO Masses, I frequently hear people in the pews saying “God” instead of using masculine pronouns or substituting gender neutral words when they say the Creed – “became flesh” instead of “became man,” for example. Like Father said, in the grand scheme of things it’s probably not the biggest worry in the world. Our old parochial vicar used to do that though which I do find more worrying since he really should know better.

  14. RBrown says:

    Not long after the changes began, but before the NO was in place, I remember reading in the UK Catholic press that Cardinal Heenan, at a Mass for nuns in their convent, decided to use the phrase “Orate, sorores”, instead of ‘fratres”. He said it made more sense, since they were sisters, not brothers.
    Comment by Tom

    I wonder what he thought of nuns taking names like Mary Paul.

    Or the French giving a son Marie as middle name, e.g., Gontran Marie LaGrange.

  15. Maureen says:

    Well, if it’s an established custom elsewhere of long standing, it can’t be too harmful.

    But it does lend itself to humor possibilities, as well as a good many difficulties depending on the language, if one did this with all responses and hymns…. :)

  16. Michael J says:

    If personalizing established prayers is a laudible goal, how can the laity decide which substitutions are “not harmful”? Would it be appropriate, for example, to begin the Lords prayer with “My Father…” instead of “Our Father…”? If not, why not and how can I tell the difference?

  17. Roland de Chanson says:

    RBrown: Or the French giving a son Marie as middle name, …

    One of my friends from school was named Jean-Marie. When teased about it, he claimed the “Marie” was the name of the Roman consul Marius. While etymologically unassailable, his thesis did not stand the smirk test.

  18. Rick says:

    You are all wrong. The elderly lady was an Italian and could not pronounce the “gnus” sound, so she simply did what most Italian Americans do when they pronounce an Anglo Saxon or Latin word that ends in a consonant: they convert the consonant to a vowel. And besides, if an elderly lady with some or a great knowledge of Latin did feminize what is a masculine word in the Tridentine Liturgy, as an outward expression of what was occurring within her soul: begging the Son of God to have mercy upon her and enter under her roof, so be it. Heaven doesn’t care. If she was a radical feminist who was determined to play games with the meaning of words to prove a psycho-political point,that’s her problem.

  19. RBrown says:

    Or the French giving a son Marie as middle name, e.g., Gontran Marie LaGrange.

    Should say: Gontran Marie Garrigou-LaGrange.

  20. Michael J says:

    Rick,

    If “Heaven doesn’t care”, why should I attend Mass at all? Why can’t the “outward expression of what is occurring within my soul” consist of me sitting in my Barco lounger watching the ball game?

  21. John Polhamus says:

    I think the point here is that the woman is changing the text of the mass from quoting the Centurion, which is scriptural, to a subjective experientially based approach. It’s all about her. No, it’s not. It’s all about the mass; it’s all about the objective liturgy, it’s all about Christ. She needs to bend her psychological back a little, and add humility to her piety.

    OR…(big “OR”) it could have been an honest mistake, which is more likely, charitably speaking. She’s just being gramatically correct. Either way, it’s not right, and it’s not good (if largely overlookable). But what if priests started doing it for masses for women’s groups and such? Better to nip it in the bud. A couple of quarentines in the stocks on the village green ought to do the trick (Trad humour).

  22. Rick says:

    Pharisee

  23. Corleone says:

    John – once again, historically, you are wrong. And your post sounds more than a bit judgemental.

    Rick – I had to have a little chuckle at your comment. The “gnus” sound is pronounced “nyus”. I know you were joking, but I wanted everyone to understand that.

    I cringe when I hear English-speaking people mispronounce a “hard” g like that. If there ever is a Satanic mass being held in hell, it is most likely presided over by a fallen English or Irish priest speaking Latin.

  24. Roland de Chanson says:

    Corleone: The “gnus” sound is pronounced “nyus”.

    Heu edepol! Actually, in classical and Late Latin, the pronunciation is a hard “g” — deeg-noos — roughly transcribed. I used to be amused in arguing the italianate church pronunciation vs the reconstructed classical with friends who attended a Jesuit high school. I simply asked them to conjugate the verb “to know”, (scio, scis, scit). They were taught to say “shee-oh, shees, sKeet” for obvious reasons.

    Cum Romae sis, Romane facitur. (koom roh-migh sees, roh-ma-né fa-Kee-tur.)
    [When in Rome…..]

  25. therese b says:

    Fr Angel is spot on with his answer.

    Corleone – please bear in mind that very few people under 50 who have sung Latin at School or College. A lucky few learnt good pronunciation by singing somewhere like the Birmingham Oratory that kept up the Latin Motets etc. I have also had my Latin pronunciation corrected in Early Music Fora, as apparently, English Mediaeval pronunciation was different from mainstream Roman. The solution to get good pronunciation back into the mainstream? I just don’t know. A herculean task.

  26. Corleone says:

    Roland – I refuse to buy into any concept of the manufactured Latin as “reconstructed”. We went into this before on another thread about a year back. Sardinian is the closest to Latin as far as a spoken language and there is no semblance of a hard G anywhere. This is definitely an (unwelcome) Anglicisation of the language. I’m sorry, but Romans were NOT effeminate character actors lisping “Weeni, Weeedy Weeki”.

    Therese – I am well aware of the predicament. But the point is, even (and especially) prior to Vatican II, there was ALWAYS bad Latin pronounciation. This is not a result of Vatican II and the supression of Latin. As a matter of fact, if ANY good can come of this, it will be that people look to ROME to learn Latin for now on.

  27. Simon Platt says:

    “The solution to get good [Latin] pronunciation back into the mainstream?” — practice!

  28. Zenobia says:

    As someone who has a Masters degree in Latin, teaches ecclesiastical Latin in my parish, and in fact is writing her own textbook, perhaps I may weigh in. First of all, shame on everyone who immediately jumped to an uncharitable conclusion about why a woman might choose to modify herself with the grammatically correct form of the adjective. As St. Paul might say, “If I go to daily Latin Mass for my entire life, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” You have no clue why that woman says “digna,” so don’t immediately bristle that her motive is to insult our precious Latin Mass or put her own personal spin on it. My guess would be that the woman knows Latin well enough to know how to modify herself with an adjective when speaking directly to our Lord in Latin, and believes that the Church is instructing the faithful to make a personal admission of unworthiness, based on the scripture text. We are not at that point quoting the passage verbatim because the Church changes Mt.8:8 from “et sanabitur puer meus” to “et sanabitur anima mea.” Clearly the Church is adapting the verse to teach us about the nature of what is shortly to take place within us.

    I had the very same question about using digna when I first started attending the Latin Mass, and have asked two priests who know Latin well about it. A woman modifying herself with a feminine adjective is after all very basic Latin grammar. Both of them had never really wondered about “why not digna” when a woman is speaking the line, and concluded that yes, when a woman is speaking, it should be “digna.” Both are FSSP priests, so their orthodoxy and devotion to the Latin Mass are not an issue. The question appears to hinge on whether or not the laity are merely quoting a scripture verse, or are speaking personally to the Lord elevated before them in the Blessed Sacrament. Given that the priest hold Jesus up before us and the Church instructs us to say, “Domine, non sum dignus,” it is easy to see why that can be understood as an instruction to each of us to tell our Lord that we are not worthy that he should come under our roof. Any why a woman who knows Latin might assume she should say “digna.”

    However, we recently had a discussion about this in my Latin class when the adjective dignus,-a, -um was presented. I decided to investigate a little further and asked two native French speakers what they would say at a French Mass if speaking in the first person singular and using an adjective that changes from one gender to the other. (The same line under discussion does not apply in French, because it is “Seigneur, je ne suis pas digne”–the same for both men and women anyway.) So I asked, if there were an adjective that did change, what would you do? The answer was that, in French at least, liturgical texts contain masculine-only references and the faithful respond all together in the masculine. A native-speaking French woman would have no problem doing so, but only in the context of formal liturgical prayers. Perhaps, given some of the comments above, this does not hold true for all the Romance languages, but it does give insight into why dignus is applied to all the faithful in Latin. I doubt if there is any complicated theology behind this; probably it’s just one of those examples of a long tradition in many languages that the masculine under certain conditions is assumed to cover both genders.

  29. Roland de Chanson says:

    Corleone,

    With all due respect to your presumed classical erudition, I regret to tell you that there is no such thing as a Romance language which is in all respects closest to Latin in pronunciation. Sardinian is grammatically more similar to Latin in its verbal conjugations, but ALL Romance languages have departed significantly from the classical pronunciation. Further, Sardinian is a continuum of dialects, some of which resemble the Dacian reflexes of Romanian. You would do will to compare the synchronic transcriptions of Latin words into other languages, particularly Greek.

    Unfortunately for your argument, anglicisation and effeminacy are not, so far as I am aware, recognised categories in linguistics.

    If I am in error, and a combox scholar such as yourself has evidence that centuries of academic research is off the mark, then I will entertain any serious reply you may care to make.

    BTW, the Jesuit high school I mentioned, has for decades now, taught the “waynee, weedee, weekee” pronunciation. The chorale sings in the old italianate pronunciation, as there is no more mellifluous and lyrical language than sung Italian.

  30. Mark says:

    At the Novus Ordo Mass I attend, I respond in Latin (not too loudly, I hope, as I do not wish to throw anyone for a loop) when everyone else responds in English. Is this bad form from your perspecitives? What if I was a spanish speaker and attended an English Novus Ordo Mass and responded in Spanish, would this be wrong?

  31. Joe says:

    I pass no judgment upon the lady. I always say “and with your spirit” instead of “and also with you” (so does my wife) and I care not what anyone else thinks.

    When my wife and I go to the Mass in Spanish we say “y con tu espiritu”, which is the correct Spanish translation from Latin. So, I say the correct English translation as well.

  32. Vernon says:

    Clearly the motives, and the degree of knowledge of Latin, of the lady concerned are unknown and hence no judgement can be made by us on the internet.

    At this particular moment in the Mass we are speaking directly and very personally to God before receiving Him in Holy Communion. My own feeling is that here, and here alone, a member of the congregation, who do not have to say the words aloud, can reasonably feminise them. However, should there be a female altar server she MUST use the prescribed words and no others since she is speaking not only on her own behalf but on behalf of the whole congregation.

    It is interesting to note a point from the rubrics of Communion outside of Mass. The Priest must use the masculine and the plural form of prayers and the blessing, even if there is only one communicant – and that a woman.

    Any changes made by the Clergy and servers are just what we so object to as abuses creeping into the OF Mass – they must not be tolerated in the EF.

  33. Corleone says:

    Vernon – Clearly the motives, and the degree of knowledge of Latin, of the lady concerned are unknown and hence no judgement can be made by us on the internet. Hear hear! I got a bit peeved at the comments of the other poster precisely because of this fact. You nailed it.

    Rolland – NO DISRESPECT here, and I MEAN this because as a linguist (and polyglot) I absolutely LOVE this discussion topic and don’t mind it one bit if you take the opposite (wrong : ) stance. To comment on your very well-thought out points:

    I regret to tell you that there is no such thing as a Romance language which is in all respects closest to Latin in pronunciation.
    Prove it. Unless you have a 2,000-year-old tape-recorder which just happened to contain the voice of a Sardinian and Roman arguing over the price of figs, there is simply no way you can make this claim. You are probably correct. But I am cautioning against hyperbole and hypothesis being taken as fact on this subject.

    Sardinian is grammatically more similar to Latin in its verbal conjugations, but ALL Romance languages have departed significantly from the classical pronunciation.

    On this I would disagree. Sardinia was a Roman penal colony due to its isolation and throroughly Romanized since the first Punic war. Because of its location and terrain it did not suffer any of the Barbarian or Mohammedan invasions (save the occasional raid) that Sicily or mainland Italy did. When Sardinians speak Italian, they speak it with an accent which is immediately identifiable as they pronounce the last consonant and omit the vowel (i.e. “ho comprat” instead of “ho comprato”) because that is exactly how Latin was spoken. The point is, there really is no way to dispute this, given the almost uninterrupted line of vernacular usage in a vaccuum.

    Further, Sardinian is a continuum of dialects, some of which resemble the Dacian reflexes of Romanian.

    VERY debateable. There are really only 2 “dialects” of sardinian; lugodorese and campidanese (i.e. mountain vs coastal people). There are other dialects spoken on the island, but these are not indigenous Sardinian, but rather the result of migration (i.e. “refugees”) from the mainland who settled on the island. And once again, these are isolated groups, in that they did not influence the 2 dialects I mentioned, but rather remain as very distinguishable and autonamous.

    You would do will to compare the synchronic transcriptions of Latin words into other languages, particularly Greek.

    Yeah…no. See, the problem with this is there are many sounds which are present in one language but not in another. So, when you transcribe any language into the alphabet of another, many times you must simply “make do” and use a letter or grouping of letters which best fits (note: not “exactly fits”). The prime example of this is “YHWH” mentioned in the Hebrew texts. As ancient (and modern?_ Hebrew is a very simplistic and unsophisticated language, there were no vowels in the alphabet (as is/was the case of Arabic and Coptic). The ancient speakers of Hebrew were very tribal in that they did not think anyone outside their tribes would need to read or understand their written texts (even their holy ones) and precious few individuals outside the priestly class (Cohanim) even knew how to read. So, the vowels that were used in reading the texts were simply “tribal knowledge” as it were. When Saint Jerome “took a stab” at creating the Latin texts from the ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek available to him, he came up with “Jehova” from “YHWH”. When a Latin speaker and Hebrw speaker pronounce these two words respectively, they are unrecognisable to each other. The same can be said with a NUMBER of Hebrew names (Yeshua, Yakub, Yrshalim etc) which came to Latin via Koine Greek (Iesus, Iacob, Ierusalem etc). Do you see where I’m going?

    Unfortunately for your argument, anglicisation and effeminacy are not, so far as I am aware, recognised categories
    in linguistics.

    Ah…but they bloody-well should be, shouldn’t they?

    If I am in error, and a combox scholar such as yourself has evidence that centuries of academic research is off the mark,
    then I will entertain any serious reply you may care to make.

    Hmmm…Does this mean I can add “combox scholar” to my list of degrees? : ) But yes, you can only take what I am saying at face value, since we don’t know each other in the “real world” and there is only a limited space here so we can’t go into too much detail. But it sure has been entertaining : )

  34. Roland de Chanson says:

    Corleone,

    Entertaining as your reply is, I think most of your ideas are so far at variance from the academic mainstream, that it would be out of place on this blog to debate them in detail, even if I had the time to do so. I don’t say you are wrong in every particular, but if you would let me know your sources, I will do some followup reading.

    I am especially interested in the accepted definition of a “simplistic” and “unsophisticated” language. It recalls Cicero’s complaint against Latin.

  35. Corleone says:

    Roland – My hypotheses and conclusions are actually pretty mainstream accademically. There is no single opinion on the subject (and it is a very old area of study). You are on one side, and I am on the other. As far as reference materials as sources, I’d really have to dig to get you all of them (we’re talking about 6 + years before the advent of the mainstream internet, so I really doubt they’d be found anywhere on the web, but they are definitely existent). I can say from a point of memory; “ortografia sarda nazionale” by giovanni spano, “Limba Sarda Comuna” (can’t remember the author), and “De Lingua Latina” (can’t remember the author).

    As far as a “simplistic” language, I don’t know if there is any “accepted” definition. It is my strong opinion regarding Hebrew (and “classical” Arabic) based on a) the absence of any vowels in the written alphabet b) the excessive need for “loan-words” to express higher concepts, c)the inability to accommodate advanced (see: dypthong/trypthong) loan-words d) the “unsophisticated” resolution of certain consonants resulting in overusage of gutteral sounds.

    Once again, these are all subjective linguistically speaking, as Arabic speakers will extoll the beauty and virtues of the Arabic language, saying there is nothing more beautiful sounding, that vowels are unnecessary, that loan-words are from the devil etc. Most Hebrew speakers on the other hand are pretty resigned and accepting to the fact that their language is unsophisticated. There’s actually a phrase that is pretty common in Israel which translates as “It sounds better in Yiddish” which is kind of like, “you had to be there” in English, but is a poke at Hebrew and the inability to explain certain higher concepts (often humorous) in the confines of that language.

  36. Roland de Chanson says:

    Corleone,

    Thanks for that. I’ll do a bit of digging.

    I will start with Limba Sarda Comuna. It should be a good source for the fate of the Latin “hard G”! (Same word as Romanian).

  37. Corleone says:

    ROLAND – hmmm. I just don’t understand why you are hung up on the “hard G”. Let me put it to you this way; in ALL cases where Latin was once the official language of a territory and the later romance vulgate was inherrited, NONE of the languages use a hard G. Italian, French, Spanish (and reluctantly Portuguese since it is in effect a “fabricated” language and not organic) have the “ny” sound when the g falls before the n (or ñ in Spanish). Romanian avoids the “gn” all together and replaces the g with an m. So, do you think all these disperate peoples and nations who on a good day can’t stand each other simply got together and said, “We’ll show those Romans! By golly, we’ll replace their sounds with something better!” No. More likely (and I mean logically, probably, almost definitely) they took the existing sounds from Latin and worked them into the vulgate.

    Incidentally, I forgot ONE MORE SOURCE (you’re really taking me back here : ) called “La meravigliosa storia del linguaggio” by Mario Pei. HE was I believe the first one to calculate the standard deviation of the romance languages from Latin and state that Sardinian is something like 12% different than Latin, as opposed to the other languages (Italian was next in line). So, with all of this commonality, one MUST conclude that the majority of sounds found in the baseline of romance languages were indeed existant in Ancient/classical Latin. This is not just “my” opinion, but it is the opinion to which I subscribe.

  38. craig says:

    1. Anyone who grows up using a language with specific endings for masculine and feminine is going to have great difficulty (hard for English-speakers to grasp) not automatically modifying anything said in the first person to “fix” the ending for one’s own sex. It’s a reflex like picking up your pencil with this hand versus that one.

    2. Who cares what the “proper” pronunciation of Latin is, within the limits of intelligibility? If it is a living language and not a dead one, then its pronunciation will be expected to change gradually over time as does every other language. I hope no-one here subscribes to a “magic sounds” theory of pronunciation, that the Mass is somehow lessened if v’s are pronounced as w’s or vice-versa, gn’s as ny’s, etc. If the people understand “ag-noose Dei”, fine; if they understand “an-yoos Dei”, that’s also fine.

  39. Bogna says:

    I once asked a priest a question about it. He said, that because it is an exact quotation from the Bible, we should not change it.
    Something I find funny – in Polish (I’m from Poland), if I adjust the word the same way the old lady did in Latin – the result sounds much like “Lord, I’m not hungry” [Panie nie jestem godna (glodna)].
    It is the second reason why our priests ask us not to adjust words to match the gender.

  40. Corleone says:

    Craig – those of us who speak Latin care. It’s not a “sacred” language like the Jews think Hebrew is, or the Arabs think Arabic is. However, it is a matter of aesthetics and tradition. Imagine if people who knew you started pronouncing your name “Grig”. You might shrug it off and say “who cares”. But some of us find the topic of linguistics, specifically when it comes to Latin interesting. If you don’t, then don’t comment.

  41. Roland de Chanson says:

    Corleone praeclare,

    Tune revera Latine loqueris? Id profecto audire mihi libet. Sed mihi dandum est me putavisse te Sardum esse. Tantum linguam Sardam te videtur colere. Ille Craig autem vere recte dixit, quod nemini interest quomodo hodiernis diebus lingua Latina exprimatur — quamquam mihi dicendum est cum acolytus fuerim sacerdotem quendam me valde castigasse quia elocutione classica usus essem! “suskipiat” pro “sushipiat” (sicut Anglice fortasse scribi debet). Mei post missam senex Iesuitus benignus animam confirmavit dicendo me correcte verbos expressisse sacerdotemque Latinistam disertum non esse. Servet Deus omnes bonos Iesuitos.

    Mihi videtur, amice Corleone, te linguarum scientiae idiotam esse, et quamvis te propterea laudem approbemque, te tamen eruditioni deesse. Ego tamen tibi prosperum linguarum studium exopto atque Latinitatis praecipue voluptates non dubitandas commendo.

  42. Roland de Chanson says:

    Craig, yes, I agree with both your points.

    Bogna, zawsze jestem glodny, szczegolnie za smaczne polskie jedzenie i piwo!

    Corleone, ma ti ho già rispost’ in limba sarda antica! ;-) (solo faccio una piccola barzelleta)!

  43. Bogna says:

    Roland de Chanson – wow, good Polish!
    By the way:
    “Actually, in classical and Late Latin, the pronunciation is a hard “g”—deeg-noos—roughly transcribed.”
    And it’s how church Latin is pronounced in Poland.

  44. Roland de Chanson says:

    Bogna – thank you for the compliment. But when I reread it I think it should be “za smacznym polskim jedzeniem i piwem.” It’s a beautiful language but, while I can read, I cannot really write very well. When I was younger I for a time attended a Polish parish. The Mass was still in Latin but naturally the sermon was in Polish. I still remember some of the Polish Christmas Carols. (Dzisiaj w Betleem, e.g.)

    That’s a good point about the “deeg-noos” as pronounced in Poland. What a lot of people don’t realize is that “church Latin” (in the United States) is really nothing more that Latin pronounced as if were Italian. They don’t realise that other Europeans have a different way of pronouncing Latin – cf. Nuntii Latini from Finland.