Instead of taking a foreign language I could use when I was in school, I took Latin.
I did so because at the time I was working at a drug store and thought I wanted to be a pharmacist one day. That was right after I wanted to be a cowboy and before I wanted to be Elvis Presley.
Anyway, knowing how to speak Latin has turned out to be totally useless to me. It doesn't even impress the ladies when you talk to them in Latin:
"Nonne alicubi prius convenimus?" (Haven't we met somewhere before?), I sometimes ask.
Once I said this to a woman who actually spoke Latin, too. She was not impressed.
"Caesar si viveret, ad renum dareris" (If Caesar were alive, you'd be chained to an oar), she replied with a coy smile.
I am pleased to announce, however, that for this one day it is good to know Latin. I say this because Henry Beard, the co-founder of "National Lampoon," has just published his third book of Latin translations, "X-treme Latin" (Gotham, $17.50). Beard's newest tome follows in the tradition of his earlier works, "Latin for All Occasions" and "Latin for Even More Occasions."
While you might not think you would enjoy a book of Latin translations, Beard is a funny guy and this is funny stuff. Besides, as he puts it, using the immortal language of Caesar, Cicero, Horace and Virgil is a great way "to turn an ordinary remark into a timeless utterance."
In the first book for example, Beard recommends that you say, "Id quod circumiret, circumveniat," instead of, "What goes around, comes around."
And it's infinitely classier to say "Mihi ignosce. Cum homine de cane debeo congredi," instead of, "Excuse me. I've got to see a man about a dog."
Bumper stickers are also much cooler (and less contentious) in Latin. For example:
"Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscripti catapultas habebunt" (When catapults are outlawed, only outlaws will have catapults.)
And intimate subjects are much easier to broach, as in:
"Braccae tuae aperiuntur" (Your fly is open).
Even insults sound less insulting:
"Itane? Tua mater!" (Oh yeah? Your mother!).
In the sequel, "Latin for Even More Occasions," Beard translates some famous movie lines into Latin, including:
"Age. Fac ut gaudeam." (Go ahead. Make my day.)
He also updates state mottoes, including ours truly. The old motto for Arizona:
"Deus Ditat" (God enriches.)
The new motto:
"Deus, Aestuat" (God, it's hot.)
And while we're at it, California's old motto is:
"Eureka!" (I found it.)
While the new, improved version is:
"Caseum Caprinum in Eo Imposui!" (I put goat cheese on it!)
Then there's the line spoken by a select few as the Titanic went down:
"Feminae, infantes atque illi qui Latine loqui possint antecedant!" (Women, children and Latin speakers first!)
And the fine print gets even more obscure with:
"Lagunculae Leydianae non accedunt." (Batteries not included.)
Now, in his brand new book, Beard brings Latin into the 21st century with such gems as:
"Has espistulas debitorum solutionem poscentes aperirem, sed metuo ne bacilli anthracis insint." (I'd open these bills, but I'm afraid they may contain anthrax.)
"Perge cornu canere -- sclopetum repleo" (Keep honking -- I'm reloading)
This last one sounds so "Payson" that it sent me looking through Beard's books for other sayings that reminded me of or could be applied to life in the Rim country. Here's a few I found:
"Anates tuas in acie instrue" means "Having your ducks in a row," precisely what happens when our own Green Valley ducks cross the street.
"Machina improba! Vel mihi ede potum vel mihi redde nummos meos!" is what Roundup employees say when they get ripped off by the resident soda machine. Roughly translated, it means, "You infernal machine! Give me a beverage or give me back my money!"
And, of course:
"Hostes alienigeni me abduxerent. Qui annus est?" As any true blue Rim country UFOlogist knows, this means, "I was kidnapped by aliens. What year is it?"
Then I got to thinking. Why not utilize my latent Latin learning to translate some of Payson's most memorable and frequently repeated lines into Latin. Here goes:
- "Tempore seventicet. Est pastum meum bunka houras." (It's 7 p.m. Time to go home and go to bed.)
- "Townum officionata est displayas medallion?" (Did that town councilor just flash me with his badge?)
- "Imem es status de fruitcakeums." (I'm from California.)
- "Nane oderifero turfisse permissium en Paysonante." (We don't allow no stinkin' grass in this town.)
- "Est frigidor brewski non gigante boobus." (Only reason I go to Pete's Place is because their beer is colder.)