Most readers of this blog probably know that I teach CCD on Wednesday afternoons, but some may not know that I also teach a Latin class on Thursday afternoons. About two-thirds of the students are from my CCD class, but it’s open to any middle school or high school student, Catholic or not, who’s interested in studying a fascinating language that’s been the cornerstone of Western civilization for the past 2,000 years.
I’m teaching my class deponent verbs, so as a homework challenge, I asked them to find three Latin phrases widely used in English that include forms of deponent verbs. Full credit, not merely half-credit as one might suppose, is given for semi-deponent verbs. They did very well, collectively finding five of the seven that I had in mind. If anyone knows any others, please post a comment. In the meantime, here are clues for those I know:
1. An abrupt change in topic (2 words)
2. A reminder of death or mortality (2 words)
3. The state motto of North Carolina (3 words; Stephen Colbert uses an inverted form of this, also 3 words)
4. A common graduation song (2 words; semi-deponent)
5. A concept in tort law, often glossed quasi-correctly as “the thing speaks for itself” (3 words)
6. A senior, semi-retired academic rank (2 words; deponent verb includes a one-letter prefix)
7. The proverb stating that “a poet is born, not made” (4 words)
Note that although the verb fido, fidere, fisus sum is a common semi-deponent, I can’t think of any phrases used in English that include the verb; cruci dum spiro fido and virtute non armis fido are wonderful sentiments but not widely known. (Mississippi hedges their bets with the motto virtute et armis; it never hurts to have both.) Phrases such as bona fide and fidus Achates use the related noun and adjective instead.