Silly Language Lessons

Semper ubi sub ubi.

One of the moments in our Latin class was when all the young students laughed at this and our beloved teacher, a giant in the academy, scratched his head and looked confused. 

You see, it makes no sense in Latin.

Only beginning students understand this. 

Semper (last syllable sounds like air) = always
Ubi (the vowel sounds in movie) = where
Sub (sounds like tube) = under

Get it?

                     ~    ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~ 

Let’s switch to French.  The following is gibberish in French. 
Instead of the transliteration above, it is more a transcription of sounds. 

If you’ve never studied French, here are Carol’s easy rules of French pronunciation:

    Talk through your nose.
    Don’t pronounce the last letters of half of the words.

See if you can make sense of this.  You really need to speak this aloud, even if you are at work.

Un petit d’un petit

S’étonne au hall


Un petit d’un petit


Ah! degrés de folles


Un dol de qui ne sort cesse


Un dol de qui ne se mène


Qu’importe un petit d’un petit


Tout Gai de Reguennes.”

I first read this in 1983 and laughed myself silly.  Now when I hear the English version, I speak along, in my head, with its Fr’anglais counterpart.

                     ~    ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~ 

Last one, folks.  Same idea as above.

Et qui rit des curés d’Oc?
De Meuse raines, houp! de cloques.
De quelles loques ce turque coin.
Et ne d’anes ni rennes,

Ecuries des curés d’Oc.

If you figure these out, leave a comment.  Happy Thursday!

[Added later: I decided to resurrect my French which has been resting in peace since 1975.  If you want to **hear** me recite these pieces, it might make more sense.]


14 thoughts on “Silly Language Lessons

  1. The first one took me longest because I kept repeating the Latin over and over, accenting it various ways till I gave up and just read the English – hilarious!  And your French was a lot of fun, too.  I remember at church in jr. high, we had a grad dinner, and the 8th grade boys’ teacher made them all get up and repeat over and over, “Oh whah tah foo liam.”  I don’t think any of them ever got it till they sat down and their parents told them what they’d been saying.  

  2. “It’s a small world after all…”Yesterday, as I came in the door, I heard my daughter, my son and my mother-in-law laughing hysterically. It was Latin tutoring time for son and daughter, and I had no idea why they would find that funny. Well, they had taught Nana, “Semper ubi sub ubi.” We are truly kindred spirits, once again (-:My high school and college French are not rising to the surface to aide me in the French pun…maybe after the next cup of coffee.My MIL is heading to your neck-o-the-woods today; I wanted to jump in the car and join her. You could show me your clean utensil drawers AND push your favorite books on me AND have me listen to your favorite music AND feed me your latest creation! (-: Doesn’t that sound fun?Diane

  3. We must be easily amused but it IS funny! Diane, isn’t that funny that you just heard this yesterday! Oh, girl, if you came to my house you’d leave with a box of books and CDs! And I haven’t even told you about my husband’s margaritas which are perfection in a chilled glass.

  4. Ds # one, whom you know, was interviewed for a national Lutheran student group one time in his teens. When the interviewer discovered he was into Latin, asked asked him to say something in said language, what should come out of his mouth but”Semper ubi sub ubi.”…I really thought some other great saying would have been better, but I guess he was considering his audience… mostly other teens.

  5. The Latin one was easy for me.  The French more difficult.  I suppose because I was fluent and kept trying to *understand*  At any rate, I loved listening to your rendition, which cleared things up promptly.
    Dana in GA

  6. Dana, you are the one who can correct my pronunciation. I wondered if knowing French might make it more difficult for you. That’s exactly why my Latin teacher was so puzzled. He kept trying to put the words together in Latin.

  7. This post made me laugh- thank you!!!
    Once upon a time National Public Radio put out a merchandise catalog.  I missed buying the T-shirt that read “I am over-educated” in Latin.  Now I wish I had bought 2! 

  8. Ahhh!  I did it!  I got the Latin one right away; the first Frenchie took me a minute, and becuase I got that, the second one was a snap!  Very fun!  I’m studying Latin now, and I took 4 years of French in high school, eons ago.
    Do you live in Oregon?

  9. Ah, Carol! I got the Latin right away (your hint helped a bunch), but the French had me stumped. I was trying to understand and translate and thinking that I must have lost more French than I’d thought. Very funny!! Thanks for helping me start my day with a laugh!!

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