Monday, September 4, 2017

bikes can pass

In a post on the Princeton Freewheelers Facebook page, Laura OLPH posted the following:

8:00 a.m. Windsor Road is blocked between Edinburg and South for emergency wire work. Bikes can pass.

Blake said that the last sentence should be the Hill Slug motto (but we already HAVE a Hill Slug motto ...), and Laura challenged me: "Latin me that, Plain Jim!"

Well, alright then. It's pretty simple that "They can pass" is "possunt praeterire". The problem is specifying the bikes. Starley didn't invent the Rover until long after the end of the Empire, and even the Ordinary and the Draisine did not see the light of day until the sun had long set on the Caesars. The word "bicycle" is more Greek than Latin, and the direct Latin might be something like "dirota".

Well, that sucks.

However, in this case, the French come to our rescue. They've happily adopted the nickname "velo" for the bicycle. It has the advantage of a Latin root (for "speed), and it's easily transmogrified into the pseudo-Latin "velus" (second declension; you learned it in week three). We need a nominative plural, so "veli".

So the sentence is:

veli possunt praeterire.

I maintain that the Hill Slugs already have a motto. I further submit that THIS, if anything, should be the motto of Tom Hammel's Insane Bike Posse.

Edit: Professor Jack Lynch reminds me that word order is important, and adjusts (correctly) to  praeterire veli possunt. He then suggests, "And then screw with the orthography with 'Præterire veli possvnt.'" At which point I give up any pretension to literacy, and return to mumbling and grunting at my wrenches.

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