macaronic wordplay

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 28 20:58:31 UTC 2008

I guess it's because I learned my Latin as (pause to count on fingers)
my 3rd language, in H.S., with Classical pronunciation. And living in
Mass. for 20 years I was plenty exposed to Harvard and their shield
which I always thought of with the /w/.

That shield probably also conditioned me -- and p'raps Ms. Dickinson
as well -- to breaking it up that exact way (which I didn't think to
mention before).

Mark Mandel

On Sun, Dec 28, 2008 at 11:53 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> 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.
> LH

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list