And You Thought Latin Was a Dead Language

mani pedi

I saw this cartoon on The New Yorker website today and had to laugh because I knew my high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Maruxa Cargill, would have appreciated it.  Our Latin II class was very small, maybe 10 students.  I adored Mrs. Cargill, a petite, classy intellectual originally from Argentina, who taught Spanish as well as Latin.  To bring the language alive for her students, every year she organized a Latin Banquet where we all dressed in togas, competed in games, and ate a lot of pizza.  Often in her classroom I was chosen to read aloud from “Winnie the Pooh” in English while she followed with the Latin version from her book “Winnie ille Pu.”  Fun times.

So it wasn’t too much of a reach (for me anyway) to connect this continuance of the famous phrase “veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) to another one—“rock, paper, scissors.”  And, of course, we come to the episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon adds to it in the form of—“rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock.”

And here it is:

9 thoughts on “And You Thought Latin Was a Dead Language

    • Oh, my! I loved Mrs. Cargill’s clothes. She was very stylish and on occasion even wore a short fur jacket that looked like lynx or something similar. She wore her hair in a pixie or a little bit longer. (It didn’t hurt that she told me I reminded her of her daughter.)

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      • Sadly most of our teachers were elderly spinsters with tight brow pulling buns or blue, pink or purple rinses depending on the term. Twinsets and pearls were the norm, as were lacy bloomers in winter. Our Head used to hold assembly resembling a huge black bat in her gown as she crowed the ‘reading’ from her pedestal on high surrounded by her minions (prefects and Head Girl). Towards the end of my senior years, we had some ‘youngsters’ join the ranks, but even they were already in their forties, and only two of those were married.

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    • I took Spanish in 8th grade and really should have continued with it the next year, which I now regret, but I didn’t like the teacher. My older brother took Latin in high school (why, I’ve never been able to figure out—maybe for the chicks?) and I got hooked on it when I read his textbook. The German teacher was an older woman who, I was told, used to offer up rationalizations for Hitler’s Germany. Oy.

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