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Thursday: October 20, 2005

Never Send A Machine To Do A Man’s Job

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:50 PM GMT-0500

Lileks finds some coded Latin, but concludes that it must be gibberish, since the online Latin translator couldn’t handle it. That just shows how stupid machines are. It is not quite classical Latin, but close enough to have a meaning. Lileks’ text is missing the first letter — easy enough when it’s written in Morse code and the letter is an I. It should read:


Classical Latin would spell the second word GYRUM and the last one IGNE, but this is good Mediaeval (aka Vulgar) Latin. It means “At night we go into a gyre [= whirl/circle/ring] and are consumed by fire”. That’s not a very clear or satisfying meaning, but better than average for palindromes. With one more syllable at the beginning, it would be an epic (dactylic hexameter) line: again, that’s probably the best meter we can expect from a palindrome. The version with ECCE (“look!”) inserted after NOCTE fulfills (barely) the minimum requirements for a hexameter, but the meaning is even clunkier.

This site has some interesting, but not entirely accurate, information on the words (click on Palindromes – it’s the first one on the right). I don’t see anything macaronic about the line, and suspect that a moth would be at least as likely as a mayfly to fly in circles and be consumed by fire. I wonder if this gyre has anything to do with the one Yeats asked someone or other to perne in in “Sailing to Byzantium”.


  1. Medieval Latin ≠ Vulgar Latin

    Comment by Anton Sherwood — Saturday: October 22, 2005 @ 4:44 PM GMT-0500

  2. Sounds like an early version of Johnny Cash’s ‘I fell into a burning “Ring Of Fire”‘…

    Comment by Floyd — Wednesday: October 26, 2005 @ 8:25 AM GMT-0500

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