Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Hugo Beikircher, Silvia Clavadetscher, Cornelis G. van Leijenhorst, Claudia Wick (ed.), Thesaurus linguae latinae: Editus iussu et auctoritate consilii ab academiis societatibusque diversarum nationum electi. Vol. X, 2 Fasc. XVI, pubertas - pulso. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008. Pp. 174. ISBN 9783110203721. (pb).
Reviewed by Rolando Ferri, Universitá di Pisa

Each new issue of the Thesaurus linguae Latinae, produced to the highly professional standards of a tradition now over a century old, is a lexicographical event in itself, for Latinists and Romance scholars at least, and the Fasciculus decimus sextus currently under review, including some delicate and complex entries, such as publicus, pudor, pulcher, puer), certainly meets the high expectations of scholarly readers. The minor entries, too, are of great interest and importance, as they document new or scarcely attested words, or test the philological foundations of uncertain ones, sometimes helping to bridge the gap between Latin and the Romance languages with documents which had gone unnoticed or were buried in some publication a bit out of the way.

TLL articles are different from most other Latin dictionary articles, even those in the scholarly Oxford Latin Dictionary. In the first place, this is because no translations into modern languages are provided, except the relevant Romance reflexes and inheritors. Perhaps just as important , entries are arranged in a complex hierarchical organization which aims at isolating the core meaning or Grundbedeutung of a word, and at highlighting what TLL redactors see as the history, as coherent as possible, of a word's shifts and extensions of meaning in time. Now, all dictionaries aim at doing this, typically combining logical and chronological criteria, on the assumption or hope that the earliest occurrences of a word show the way to its core meaning. However, in other Latin dictionaries, the focus on translation and the consequent need to adapt to the target language and its idioms gains the upper hand over the word's history and ramifications of meaning. It is worth attracting attention here to the online bulletin of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, where pieces by TLL scholars appear now and then. As it happens, Claudia Wick, the author of several entries in this issue, has illustrated work at the TLL with methodological considerations and examples taken from the fascicule under review here in Am Beispiel 'pudor': Lexikographen übersetzen nicht; and the 2008 issue features another contribution on similar themes with a different selection of examples, T. Harbsmeier, "Omne tulit punctum ...": Aus der Werkstatt des Thesaurus linguae Latinae, worth reading also for the suggestion, based on frequency data, that for a Latin speaker hearing the word punctum the most immediate mental association was with 'time', with something quick and sudden happening puncto temporis, rather than with 'interpunction'.

Wick illustrates lexicographical work at the TLL from, inter alia, the telling example of the difficult word pudor, which one tends to associate with 'shame', even 'shyness'. OLD, for example, lists these translations: 1. A feeling of shame (arising from a particular action or circumstance); 2. Consciousness of what is seemly, sense of propriety or restraint; 3. One's honour or self-respect. 4. A source of shame, dishonour, humiliation. Instead, the first definition in TLL (I.A.1.a) reads respicitur habitus eius qui delinquere non uult, turpiter agere recusat, a much more energetic and active state of mind than one would have imagined. Wick explains this definition in her article, if I translate her German correctly, as 'the state of mind or the attitude of someone who takes offence at something', p. 27, die geistige Eigenschaft oder Haltung... desjenigen, der an irgendetwas Anstoss nimmt). Wick, if anyone, is certainly in command of the evidence, and it will take a great deal of arguing to reshuffle or dismantle the careful, well thought-out organization she has given to the pudor article. However, I ask myself if the definition she offers here for the 'core meaning' is not too abstract, and more a logical than an existent meaning. Does it really match her first chosen examples, Pl. Epid. 166-7 (plerique homines)... ubi pudendum est ibi eos deserit pudor, and Enn. Trag. fr. 137 Joc. deum me sentit facere pietas, civium porcet pudor ("duty to the gods enjoins me to act, respect for the citizens prevents me)? Especially in the Ennius fragment, the genitive seems to reveal 'shame' for some future bad behaviour, at the prospect of facing one's fellow citizens, not the refusal to act badly, or indignation against bad behaviour. However that may be, it is worth mentioning the important discussion of pudor offered by R. Kaster, in his Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome (Oxford, 2005), ('Fifty Ways to Feel Your Pudor', 28-66), where the author begins with stating that 'there is no historically recoverable reason to think that there was a single 'original' or 'authentic' or 'real' form of the emotion' from which the others emerged' (p. 29).

As everyone knows, OLD stops at the beginning of the third century. People who wish to follow the evolution of the Latin vocabulary in later periods need to look at Forcellini, Souter, Lewis-Short, Blaise, and then at dictionaries of Medieval Latin. TLL is essential here, with its careful attention to all subliterary evidence, translations, inscriptions, legal literature, down to the end of the sixth century. None of the Latin dictionaries mentioned above, for example, registers pulicella, 'maid, virgin' (cf. French pucelle), for which TLL now offers at least one Latin occurrence from the end of antiquity, in the Lex Salica 104.10. Pulliter was registered as pullitra in OLD, found in Varro, Rust. 3.9.9, and meaning 'young hen'. Various Romance languages and dialects, however, have an inherited form meaning 'pony, colt, young horse' (cf. It. puledro). TLL now offers evidence for this meaning in some sixth century legal texts, e. g. Leges Visigothorum 8.4.5 Zeumer. In pugillus, however (2536.38-9), I am not convinced that piggapigga 'uva', in regione q. d. Versilia ('grapes') should belong here, as this dialectal word must derive from Lt. pinea rather than Lt. pugnus or a derivative. Pulicare is only 'fleawort' in Souter, or Lewis and Short. TLL, following W. Heraeus, Kleine Schriften (Heidelberg, 1937), 2, now adds the meaning 'covering, wrapper, mantle', occurring in Edictum Diocletiani, 8.43 Lauffer, in a section de tegestribus, though the connection with fleas remains somewhat unexplained.

Work on each entry is accurate and meticulous, and one finds a sizeable number of textual suggestions and emendations in numerous places, relating to mainstream and less familiar texts (cf. e. g. 2442.40-2, for the suggestion that publice should be corrected to publicanis, in the recensio a of the Passio Theclae p. 39 2 Gebhart, on the basis of comparison with recensio b and the Greek source). The parallels given for publica merx as a possible correction for Petr. Sat. 14.2 iudicium nihil est nisi publica merces are very attractive (2462.68-9), but a similar malapropism (mistaking merces for merx) is not acceptable in this passage, as the lines are pronounced either by Ascyltus or by Encolpius, two well-educated speakers in the novel.

Finally, I have not found in any Latin dictionary the sociolinguistic submeaning of publicus as 'belonging to the common language' (2463.38 ff.), and it is not even found in the index of Roman Müller's excellent study on Latin definitions of linguistic register, Sprachbewusstsein und Sprachvariation im lateinischen schrifttum der antike (München, 2001). The most interesting passage is Hier. In Matth. 15.11 uerbum 'communicat' proprie scripturarum est et publico sermone non teritur, which refers to the opposition between the 'technical' language of the scripture and the common language of everyone, in this case with no lower-register implications.

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