Sunday, September 27, 2009

Question from Lindsey - Help with Latin translation

I have at long last gotten around to reading the late John Dent's "The Quest for Nonsuch" (1962, 1970 2nd ed. reprinted 1981), and I am also looking forward to seeing Martin Biddle's book on Nonsuch as well. Palaces which no longer exist tantalize me to no end (especially when drawings and paintings of some of them still exist).

Now, my question: would someone out there be kind enough to translate the following Latin couplet which is included in the John Dent book (he included the following two lines which have been attributed to John Leland, librarian to Henry VIII, without giving non-Latin scholars a translation). The couplet reads:

Hanc quia non habent similem, laudare Britanni
Saepe solent, nullique parem cognomine dicunt.

I'm happy to say that most authors these days include translations from the original language of lines or paragraphs they include in their writings and do not assume that all their readers are multi-lingual! Thank you--


PhD Historian said...

At the time that Dent's book was first published, Latin was still a fundamental part of the curriculum for the better-educated British public, so Dent's readers would not have needed a printed translation. Sadly, the late 20th century has seen the removal of Latin from the primary and secondary school curriculums.

Grousing aside, the phrase is translated literally thus:

Because they do not have [anything] similar to this, they are accustomed to praise the British often, and none name an
equal of the same name.

A less literal prose translation might be:

Because they do not have anything similar to this, and no one can name any equal to it, they frequently praise the British.

Alexandra K said...

Okay. Anybody, please feel free to fine-tune this, but here's what I got.

Because they do not have this woman* the same, to praise the Britons

They are often accustomed, and they do not speak of the partner with the last name.

Again, this is very rough, I only gave it two minutes because I'm reading the Latin I have to read for school right now, and I don't have any context/knowledge of the author's style, so don't take it as the be-all and end-all translation.

But it's nice to find that knowing Latin has at least some practical uses :)

* hanc is feminine, so it be "this woman," or just "this" referring back to some feminine antecedent that I don't know

Lindsey said...

Thanks to those who responded to my Latin translation question; I really appreciate your time and effort very much. I must say that I regret that I did not take any courses in Latin decades ago when I was in high school.