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TLL in Home Office

Dear friends of the Thesaurus, visitors to our blog,

nos autem ita sumus deducti ad Thesaurum linguae Latinae, ut, quoad possimus et liceat, ab eius officio numquam discedamus.

These words alluding to CIC. Lael. 1 might describe the time-honored, unshakeable commitment of Thesaurus lexicographers to Latin. The current COVID-19 pandemic and the public measures taken to bring it under control force us to travel untrodden paths: since last Tuesday we have been working from home, quoad possumus. The pictures show two of us, Roberta Marchionni and Michael Hillen, at our respective home offices.

The Archive and Library of the Thesaurus are, along with the entire Bavarian Academy of Sciences building, closed to external visitors for the moment.

Last week was marked by impressive creativity in the search for and making available of digital resources for lexicographic work, far from our fantastic library. This is another step into the digital future for our working methods. The willingness of our colleagues to help each other is impressive, who are constantly finding new ways to be productive in the current situation. The work must go on. We have simply taken on so much to accomplish this year!

A constant companion to our work is worry about our families, friends, and colleagues, both near and far, especially those in the countries most affected by the pandemic.

To all of them we wish good health, patience, and abundant caution!

Michael Hillen

Synonyms in Latin and the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae

Guest Blog by Johann Ramminger

“Language possesses no pure synonyms. […] If, for extralinguistic reasons such as cultural borrowing or foreign conquest, two exact synonyms exist for a time in the spoken chain, either one of them will become less and less selected and eventually discarded, or a difference of meaning, connotation, nuance or register will arise to distinguish them” (Samuels 1972, 65, invoking Bréal’s “Essai de semantique” of 1897). The phenomenon of native-language synonym displacement has been documented amply in modern European languages. A case in point is traducere/to translate in the Romance vernaculars. In Medieval Latin translatare had been used, and had entered Romance languages; via French it was received into English, where it still survives. Traducere in this meaning was a coinage in Early Modern Latin of the early 15th century. It entered Romance languages in the late 15th century and replaced pre-existing words derived from translatare within a hundred years (cp. ital. tradurre, fr. traduir). Little attention has been paid to the fact that the situation in Latin itself is much less clear cut. Certainly no synonym displacement can be seen in Latin concerning the synonyms for to translate, neither in the Latin of Antiquity (i.e. in the Latin of native speakers) nor later (Ramminger 2015-16). Hence, some basic data about Latin synonyms may be useful. Weiterlesen