"more metaphorico"

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"more metaphorico"

Post by djgeometry » Mon Aug 15, 2005 6:03 am

Usually when a Greek or Latin expression is preserved in modern English (or any other language that wishes to preserve such expressions), it holds some nuance unparalleled by its closest modern-language-native correspondent. What is this nuance when contrasting "speaking more metaphorico" with "speaking metaphorically"? Is it something like "by way of metaphor"?

-swg

P.S. The expression occurs in Derrida's La retrait de la métaphore, and is likely preserved in English translations (perhaps The Retreat of Metaphor).
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"more metaphorico"

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Aug 15, 2005 7:21 am

In this context the Latin word 'more' means 'like' or 'in the manner (of)'. "Speaking more metaphorico" therefore means something like 'speaking in a metaphorical manner', which is as close as dammit to 'speaking metaphorically'.

Other examples using 'more' in this way are more majorum ('after the manner of our (or their) ancestors') and more suo, meaning 'in his (her) own way', 'in characteristic fashion'.

Sometimes the reason for preserving such locutions in other languages is not some unique nuance of meaning, but merely their agreeably succinct or harmonious form. I imagine that more metaphorico is a case in point, owing to its alliterative quality, although I would hardly say that this is a phrase which is in widespread use even among educated English speakers nowadays, if indeed it ever was.

Another, occasional, reason may be the desire to allude to a quotation or set phrase in the source language which is very well established there. An example of this is Juvenal's phrase mens sana ('a sound mind'), which exists in full as the Latin expression mens sana in corpore sano, probably better known to most English speakers as "a sound mind in a sound body"[/i]. The legal profession in particular has a tendency to resort to this kind of usage (the example of mens rea, literally 'guilty mind', but usually referred to as 'criminal intent', innocently springs to mind).

Other instances of sayings or quotations whose familiarity in their original languages has enabled them to survive unchanged, and even abbreviated, in others, are the French sayings Autres temps, autres mœurs ('Other times, other manners') and Plus ça change, c'est la même chose ('The more it changes, the more it stays the same'); and the Latin proverb Vita brevis, ars longa ('Life is short, art endures'), the allusions to which often remain understood by English speakers even when they are shortened in quotation to Autres temps, Plus ça change and Vita brevis.
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