macaronic wordplay

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Dec 28 16:53:13 UTC 2008

At 11:38 AM -0500 12/28/08, Mark Mandel wrote:
>Heard on the weekend on, I think, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", after
>something about a Harvard basketball team, from Amy Dickinson:
>"As it were -- that's their motto."
>And I went
>    tick... tick... BOOM!
>as (to mix metaphors) the penny dropped:
>1. Harvard's motto, "Veritas", in the classical pronunciation: /'wEritas/
>2. Split and reverse order: "as it were"
>Mark Mandel
This one really puzzled me on first read-through, partly because of
the obscurity of the algorithm (pronounce as in classical Latin,
which Harvard's motto rarely is, and then reverse order of syllables
and treat each as an English word?) and partly because I read it as
having been observed by *Emily* Dickinson, who wouldn't have been a
close follower of Harvard basketball.  Whatever.


The American Dialect Society -

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