the classics pages letters
Sent: 12 July 2005 20:17
I stumbled on your pages by accident during a Google search for translations into Greek, and was pleasantly surprised.
|It is indeed very sad that this continuity is being lost - the only European language with an unbroken literary tradition going back 3000 years. In England the situation is desperate - so few schools are still allowed to teach ancient Greek - far less than 1000 pupils now take the GCSE exam at 16.
On the mouse/rat problem - have you read Umberto Eco -" Mouse or Rat?: Translation as negotiation". It came too late to help me with my dilemma, but shows that things are just as complicated as I had supposed. I think I do use μυς αρουραίος somewhere for "rat": μυς ποντικός sounds like what we in England know as the Black Rat - nowadays virtually unknown, but this was the rat which came by ship (with the bubonic plague) in the middle ages from the east. Our tame rats (white rats) are an albinistic variant of the Black Rat, and so ποντικός would have been appropriate (although Scabbers' colour is not divulged!). But I'm sure he wasn't a town rat (Brown Rat in English - Rattus norvegicus) - which is the Greek country rat/mouse!
Thanks for your entertaining email