Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Latin Word of the Week

I would love to introduce this feature, but I don't have the kind of self-discipline to be consistent.

Anyway, I was reading the brief bio for Ss. John de Brefeuf, Isaac Jogues, etc. and ran across the phrase, "America Septentrionali." I believe this is in the locative case. At any rate, the phrase is apparently the normal way to say "North America." So "septentrionalis" means "northern." Its basic meaning, however, is either the Big Bear or the Little Bear--what we would call the Big Dipper and Little Dipper. The phrase literally means something like America under the seven [stars] of the oxen (trionalis). It is also used in some animal names, such as the Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis).

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