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April 11, 2004

Missing The Obvious

Leafing through the Loeb edition of Cicero’s De Oratore, I ran across 2.249, in which a certain Glaucia mocks a limping Calvinus with the words num claudicat? at hic clodicat. The translators, E. W. Sutton and H. Rackham, turn this into “Can he be hobbling? Nay, but he is wobbling”. This seems inexcusably inexact. Since, as they say in a footnote, clodicat is the “plebeian and rustic form” of claudicat, which they have already translated “is hobbling”, the English equivalent of clodicat would be “is hobblin’”, “is ’obbling”, or (this may be laying it on a bit thick) “is ’obblin’”. There is no lack of plebeian and rustic equivalents of the English word ‘hobbling’. Dropping the last letter may be more ecumenical than dropping the first, since the Cockney silent H is far more British than American.

More recent translators and commentators have, I hope, done better, but I’m too lazy to look, and the most recent commentary, in five or six volumes, is out of my price-range.

Posted by Michael Hendry at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)