Donatus, de barbarismo, trans. J. Marchand

On Barbarism

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    Barbarism is a bad part of speech in ordinary speech, in poetic discourse it is called metaplasm. In our language it is called barbarism, in the speech of foreigners it is called barbarolexis, as if someone were to say mastruga `sheepskin' (a Sardinian word), cateia `club' (a Celto- Germanic word), magalia `hut' (a Punic word). Barbarism occurs in two ways: in pronunciation and in writing. These have four types each: addition, subtraction, changing and transposing of letters, syllables, tones and aspiration. By the addition of letters barbarism occurs, as in reliquias Danaum `the remnants of the Trojans' (Aeneid 1.30), when we should say for `remnants' `a single'; by syllable, as nos abiisse rati (Aeneid 2.25) `we thought they had gone', for abisse; in long and short vowels, as Italiam fato profugus (Aeneid 1.2) `to Italy, exiled by fate', since we must pronounce Italiam with a short first vowel; by the loss of a letter, as in infantibu parvis `to small children' for infantibus; in syllable, as salmentum for salsamentum `fish sauce; marinated fish'; in long and short vowels, as unius ob noxam `because of one man's fault' (Aeneid 1.41) for unîus; by replacement of a letter, as olli for illi; of a syllable, as permities for pernicies; of long and short, as in the case of `fervere Leucaten' (Aeneid 8.677 [see] `Leucate glow') [for fervere `et Actia bella videbis' `you will see Actium's battles glow'], since fervere is of the second conjugation and should be pronounced long; by transmutation (metathesis) of letters, as Evandre for Evander; of a syllable, as displicina for disciplina; of long and short letters, as when someone says deos `gods', lengthening the first syllable and shortening the second. Tones also are changed in these four types, for they too are added, subtracted, replaced and transformed. Many examples offer themselves, if someone asks. In the same number of ways aspiration also is caught by barbarism, which some ascribe to writing, some to pronunciation, because of h, which, as you know, some consider to be a letter, some the sign of aspiration. Barbarisms also come about through hiatus. There are also poor transitions, that is cacosynthesis, which some consider to be barbarism; in it we find mytacism, labdacism, iotacism, hiatus, collisions and other utterances which more or less are rejected by educated ears. Having indicated that one should avoid these errors, we give up the argument about what to call them.

    Donatus is said to have been St. Jerome's teacher. It is good to see that they had PC problems and regionalisms also. The references to tone show that Donatus was referring to Greek grammarians; tone was of no importance in Latin. -- Jim Marchand.