Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Facebook funnies: feminist rhetorical translating

Given what Cheryl Glenn said (and just for grins), I posted this as my status on Facebook this morning:
I need some help from you Latin scholars:  What's Quintilian mean when he quotes Cicero saying, 'uirum bonum dicendi peritum'"
Here's some replies >> so far (and feel free to add your own, here or there):
>>  I think that means, "Your lilly is crooked."   

>>   i`m out...somthing about bono  

>>   he's saying -"who left the toilet seat up - again?"
[via FB email from one of my Italian friends who's not so sure of her English:]  >>  how are you doing? The phrase you're looking for is taken by the XII book of the "Oratoria" by Quintilian. Precisely, the quote is included in this passage "Sit ergo nobis orator quem constituimus is qui a M. Catone finitur VIR BONUS DICENDI PERITUS, verum, id quod et ille posuit prius et ipsa natura potius ac maius est, utique vir bonus: id non eo tantum quod, si vis illa dicendi malitiam instruxerit, nihil sit publicis privatisque rebus perniciosius eloquentia, nosque ipsi, qui pro virili parte conferre aliquid ad facultatem dicendi conati sumus, pessime mereamur de rebus humanis si latroni comparamus haec arma, non militi."
I can try to traslate it in English but I'm not sure of the result. 
It should sound something like: "According to the definition of Marco Porcio Catone the orator I want to train should be a RIGHT MAN SKILLED IN ORATORY (public speaking)" The phrase you wrote on facebook were plural "VIRUM BONI DICENDI PERITI" and obviously the meaning is the same.
Now, go back and re-read and notice (if you didn't the first time) all the male-gendered defaults in the rhetoric and its translations.

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