Monday, September 28, 2015

Commentarii de Inepto Puero by Jeff Kinney, translated by Monsignor Daniel Gallagher

I haven’t been in a Latin class in a long time, but I always enjoyed the classes I took.  I basically stuck to classical or ancient Latin, with a one semester foray into ecclesiastical or church Latin.  But I have to admit it was while translating some Cicero that ultimately caused me to throw up my hands and say Finito.  

Still, in 2003, when Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis was published, I did buy it and I enjoyed reading it very much.  Heck, I was already familiar with most of the spells anyway - accio, Lumos Maxima, and my favorite Expecto Patronum.  Latin and Harry just seemed made for each other.  Imagine how much fun Latin class could be now, I thought.  Book I was quickly followed by book 2, Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum and yes, I read it and enjoyed it as well. 

But now, the fun doesn’t stop with Harry.  Now, Greg Heffley and friends have joined the Latin library of popular fiction that includes not only Harry, but such other greats as Hobbitus Ille, and Winnie Ille Pu among others.

Commentarii de Inepto Puero (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) has  been translated, with the blessing of the Vatican, by Monsignor Daniel Gallagher, an American and Vatican official assigned to the Office of Latin Letters, and who also happens to manage the Pope’s twits on Twitter.  And I think he has done a pretty good job of navigating pop culture words and phrases and turning it into authentic Latin - even if the meaning is just slightly different, it can be understood in context.

Father Gallagher presenting a copy of Commentarii de Inepto Puero
to Pope Francis in June 2015 
I have to admit, my Latin is a little rusty and it took me a while to get through the book, but what a feeling of satisfaction I had when I was done.  I did share Commentarii de Inepto Puero with my niece, a high school junior who is in her fifth year of Latin, and she pretty much zipped through it, and laughed all the way to the end.  Of course, she is more familiar with the Wimpy Kids books than I am.  In fact, this is the first one I’ve ever read, but now I tempted to try one in English.  

I loved Latin and I really hope that offering kids a Latin edition of favorite books may make learning Latin more enticing and fun to learn.  

What does pop culture look like in Cicero's native tongue?  Cheese touch becomes tactus casei and heavy metal music translates as musica metallica gravis, which only goes to show you the omnia dici possunt Latin (Everything can be said in Latin)

This book is recommended for anyone who loves Latin and Middle Grade Books
This book was received as an EARC from NetGalley

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