[Taxacom] Not news: Latin scholarship statistically zero

Curtis Clark lists at curtisclark.org
Sat Apr 6 15:50:14 CDT 2013

I was looking at an article on PLoS One about a couple of new genera of 
parabasalids (notable outside parabasalid-land because they are named 
Cthulhu and Cthylla), and I was immediately struck by their epithets, 
respectively macrofasciculumque and microfasciculumque. Now I don't even 
complain much any more about mixing Greek and Latin roots, but I was 
flabbergasted by the "que" ending; it ordinarily translates as "and", 
placed before the noun in English that it follows in Latin (Senatus 
Populusque Romanus = the Roman Senate and People). Technically it's 
called an enclitic particle. So I'm thinking "big and bundle?", "Cthulhu 
and big bundle?"

Well, I learned much to my chagrin a number of years ago that I don't 
always know everything I think I know, so I decided to look it up. Turns 
out it's from Exodus 12:22 in the Vulgate (Latin Bible): "fasciculumque 
hysopi tinguite sanguine qui est in limine et aspergite ex eo 
superliminare et utrumque postem nullus vestrum egrediatur ostium domus 
suae usque mane", which translates in the King James Version as "And ye 
shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the 
bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that 
is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house 
until the morning." Looking at Bible translations that were strongly 
informed by the Latin Bible, most start with "And"; none of the others 
that I looked at did. I have no knowledge of Hebrew to know whether that 
conjunction was present in the original.

It gets stranger. I put "bunch" into Google Translate and it gives 
"Fasciculumque" (with that precise capitalization). Google Translate not 
unexpectedly makes heavy use of the Vulgate and many classic Latin texts 
in their Latin-English-Latin translations. It translate "fasciculum" as 
"packet" and "fascis" as bundle. "fascicula" is "bundles", 
"fasciculorum" is "files", and "fasciculis" is "packages". For those of 
you unfamiliar with Latin, these are all inflected forms of the same word.

It's not surprising that people use Google Translate to find out Latin; 
I use it for other languages all the time. And it's not surprising that 
Google Translate gives different meanings for different inflections of a 
word, since it equivalences phrases from known translations rather than 
translating words grammatically; that's why it does a better job than 
most other automatic translation programs.

And so we get "macrofasciculumque". The same Google that gives the 
less-than-useful translation enabled me to research all this in just a 
few minutes. So I'm not exactly complaining.

Here's the article, which is very interesting (parabasalids are cool):

For those of you unfamiliar with Cthulhu:

Curtis Clark        http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark
Biological Sciences                   +1 909 869 4140
Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona CA 91768

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