Latin Names of Elements: Thallium

Element 81: Thallium

Latin Name: thallium, thalliī

  • θαλλός, θάλλω " - green twig
  • — > [ θαλλω- ] — stem
  • — > [ thallo] — Latinized
  • — > [ thallo] + [ io- ] — with stem of elemental suffix -ium
  • — > [ thall] + [ io- ] — [ io- ] assimilates ending in [ thallo]
  • — > [ thallio- ] — new stem implying “green twig element”
  • = “thallium, thalliī " - second-declension neuter

So named for its bright green spectral emission lines.

-Beniaminus

(Image Source)

By now you have probably heard of the impending Nutella crisis, as a tough season has lowered crop yields of hazelnuts and filberts have sent nut prices soaring.  Hazelnuts and filberts have been known and cultivated for almost 10,000 years.  Although the names hazelnut and filbert have been used synonymously, they are different nuts.  There are around 14-18 species in the Corylus family (from the Latin word for hazel, corylus).  The filbert takes its name from the 7th century French Saint Philibert of Jumieges, whose saint day is August 20th, for the time the nut ripened in England.  

So a few days ago, adodecahedron asked me to do a thing. This is that thing. It has been approximately five years since I studied any Latin, formally or informally, and I didn’t bother any of my fellow Classics enthusiasts for this one (but keep an eye out, I’m doing another one), so there may be some mistakes, which, feel free to correct. But this is an approximate translation anyway, and a prose one, as it neither scans nor rhymes (in any scansion or rhyme scheme, let alone the original {which, might I add, is a 1953 swing tune with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy and music by Nat Simon, not a TMBG composition, much as I love their cover}). So have fun, but do tell me if I’ve egregiously misdeclined or conjugated something, or used an inapplicable adverb, or anything.

Constantinopolis Byzantium erat
(Constantinople was Byzantium)
nunc Constantinopolis est et non Byzantium
(Now it is Constantinople and not Byzantium)
Byzantium diu absens fuit,
(Byzantium has been gone a long time)
deinde deliciae absegmen est per noctem lunae lucens, o
(Henceforth it is a mouthful of delight* on a night of a shining moon, oh)
cuncta puella in Byzantio, o, in Constantinopole habitat, o
(Every girl in Byzantium, oh, dwells in Constantinople, oh)
si assignātiōnem in Byzantio habes igitur, o
(Therefore if you have a tryst in Byzantium, oh)
manebit in Constantinopole
(She will be waiting in Constantinople)

etiam anticum Novum Eboracum olim Novae Amstelodami erat
(Nay, even ancient New Ebacorum** was once long ago New Amsterdam***)
causam illum verterunt non dicere possim
(The reason they changed it I could not say)
populus melius amat quemadmodum
(The people liked it better in that manner)

sic me ad Byzantium refers
(Thus, take me back to Byzantium)
Non potes ad Byzantium revertere
(You cannot return to Byzantium)
Byzantium diu absens fuit,
(Byzantium has been gone a long time)
Cur Byzantium convitium tam acceptat?
(Why did Byzantium submit to such abuse?)
negotium neminis nisi Comitem Orientis
(that is the business of no one but the Byzantine court official)

O! decano Byzantii et Constantinopolis
(doo doo doo I sing of the glory of Byzantium and Constantinople)
Citharam moderare!
(play that cithara!)

etiam anticum Novum Eboracum olim Novae Amstelodami erat
(Nay, even ancient New Ebacorum was once long ago New Amsterdam)
causam illum verterunt non dicere possim
(The reason they changed it I could not say)
populus melius amat quemadmodum
(The people liked it better in that manner)

Constantinopolis Byzantium erat
(Constantinople was Byzantium)
nunc Constantinopolis est et non Byzantium
(Now it is Constantinople and not Byzantium)
Byzantium diu absens fuit,
(Byzantium has been gone a long time)
Cur Byzantium convitium tam acceptat?
(Why did Byzantium submit to such abuse?)
negotium neminis nisi Comitem Orientis!
(that is the business of no one but the Byzantine court official!)


*The Turkish names for Turkish Delight (invented in the 1700s) are derived from an Arabic word luqma(t) and its plural luqūm meaning “morsel” and “mouthful” and the alternative Ottoman Turkish name, rahat-ul hulküm, was an Arabic formulation, rāḥat al-hulqūm, meaning “comfort of the throat”, which remains the name in formal Arabic. I have translated a Latin compromise between the Arabic origin and the current English name, considering that Romans would not have known this delicacy.

** Eboracum was a fort and city in Roman Britain that evolved into York.

***Amsterdam’s earliest bridges and dams were built after the Amstel floods of 1170 and 1173, and the earliest recorded use of the name “Aemstelredamme” is October 1275. I am using Amstelodami as Latinized by historians from 1670 on.

anonymous said:

Which is the most correct latin pronunciation? I mean, did they have the same accent as italians or other modern neo-latin languages speakers? Do we even know??

"Correct" isn’t really the most correct word to be using here, because there are several "correct" Latin pronunciations—four, actually.

  • Classical Latin - the pronunciation used by the Ancient Romans. As such, it’s the pronunciation taught in schools today (thanks to the Renaissance). This was pretty much identical to modern English except v's were always pronounced like u or (the Romans didn’t have either of those letters), ae sounded like aye (cry), always sounded like and never s, never sounded like modern j, j wasn’t a letter but could be used in its place (sounding like consonantal y). There are a couple of either changes, and you can read those here. As for how we know that this is how the Romans pronounced Latin, W. Sidney Allen published Vox Latina in 1965, detailing the reconstruction of classical pronunciation. His arguments included that the Roman alphabet was intended to be purely phonetic so that you could perfectly predict how the word would be spoken just by reading the word. We can read surprisingly detailed explanations of the Latin language from classical authors themselves. Common misspellings can provide clues to the pronunciation of the word. We can compare Romance language pronunciations to each other. There’s more, and you can read about that here.
  • Medieval Latin - When the Roman Empire expanded, so did the reach of Latin. Latin was influenced by many local languages, including German. We know it was about this time that j (pronounced like the consonantal y) entired the language, and diphthongs were contracted (ae became e, so we can assume that it was now pronounced like e). Latin also started forming local dialects, which evolved so intensely that we now call them different languages. This was the origin of the Romance languages.
  • Church/Ecclesiastical Latin - the Latin of the Catholics. This is where a lot of modern misconceptions about Latin pronunciation stem from. The Catholics determined that, for the purpose of Mass, Italic pronunciation just sounded better. Vowels were no longer long or short, could sound like ch or k, g could sound like the modern sometimes, sounded like ysounded like the modern v, and some more. You can read about that here. Church Latin was only used for church purposes, however.
  • English/Business/Legal Latin - the pronunciation used today when people want to sound smart by using Latin words and phrases but don’t actually sound smart because they don’t know how to pronounce Latin. English Latin simply pronounces Latin as though it were English, with ending i's in plurals sounding like aye (even though that was never a thing in either Classical, Medieval, or Church Latin.

As for which pronunciation is the most correct, most Latinists nowadays will point at Classical Latin. You can read my posts about the history and development of Latin here, here, and here.

Hope this helps, Anon!

-Beniaminus

From “Genialium Dierum Libri Sex, Varia Ac Recondita Eruditione Referti.”, Alexandri ab Alexandro. Text Reads:
Top (Greek): “Neither your honey nor your sting.” [Num. Rabbah 20:10]
Right (Hebrew): “Smoother than oil is her speech” [Proverbs 5:3]
Left (Hebrew): “But in the end she is as bitter as wormwood.” [Proverbs 5:4]
Below (Latin): “Nocet empta dolore voluptas” [Horace]
Bottom (Greek): “I sing to those who know; the uninitiated must close the doors.”[Orpheus]

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