Saturday, January 22, 2011

Verbum Hodiernum: LEVIS

Today's word is the Latin adjective LEVIS, meaning "light" (in weight), along with related metaphorical meanings such as "swift, light-footed," "slight, without weight," "easy to do," "easy to digest," "mild, gentle," etc. This Latin adjective shares the same root as the verb levare, "to raise" (which is a matter of weight, of course!).

From Latin levis we get the English word "levity," and from the verb levare, we get "lever," "elevate," and also "relieve" and "alleviate." Likewise legerdemain, "sleight of hand," which we borrowed from the French, also comes from the Latin levis.

The vowel is short in levis, but there is another Latin word, lēvis, with a long vowel, which has a quite different meaning: "smooth, not rough."

Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs:

Fortuna levis est dea.

Rapida fortuna ac levis.

Levis sit tibi terra!

Levis est labor omnis amanti.

Omne in amore malum leve est.

Leve fit, quod bene fertur, onus.

Parva leves capiunt animos.

Tempus facit aerumnas leves.

Maxima bella ex levibus causis.

Lucra levia crumenam efficiunt gravem.

Si non vincis parva et levia, quando superabis difficiliora?

Subere levior.

Quid levius vento? Fulmen.

Quod praeteriit, levius est.

Multae manus onus levius faciunt.

Multae manus onus levius reddunt.

Levissima res oratio.



mifaina said...

Can you put the English translation for each phrase that you use as an example?

Laura Gibbs said...

The idea is to learn to appreciate the Latin for its own sake, so no, I won't be doing English translations. But if there is a phrase you have a question about, please ask! I will be glad to answer questions!

mifaina said...

I do understand what are you trying to accomplish, but when you put out so many sentences that actually emphasis NUANCES on how to use the word it will be GREAT if sentences will have translation, instead looking for a translator to figure it out. My 2 cents.It seems that you already changed you mind for your future podcasts...

Laura Gibbs said...

The podcasts are not for Latin students; they are primarily for my colleagues at the University of Oklahoma primarily (it's a project on teaching philosophies). Latin nuances need to be learned in Latin; they cannot be expressed in English - that's why they are nuances. So, if you have questions, ask! I will be glad to help. If you want someone to do the translating for you, though, you need to ask elsewhere. As I explain in one of the podcasts: EXERCITATIO OPTIMUS MAGISTER. Me doing translations for you is not good exercitatio at all; if you think translation is helpful (I do not), then you need to do those translations on your own.

mifaina said...

I disagree, nuances of any language can be expressed in other languages obviously not mot à mot. In my case I asked for English translation because English is my second language, I did my exercitatio in Latin in my high school years(long time ago) not without getting to the rank of magister, and I do regret it now. Never the less, your work is excellent although a bit tough, maybe targets a "special" audience.

Laura Gibbs said...

If you want to do English translations for your own practice and pleasure, that is just great; cuique suum! Latin instruction in the U.S. is profoundly focused on translating into English; often that is the ONLY thing students do in their Latin classes, so much so that they never learn to actually read Latin at all, despite years of study. I am trying to provide an alternative, encouraging people to read Latin rather than always think about how it would go in English.