Pistrina bids the rector to school...


Ed. Note: See the post "Squeaking and Gibbering in the Streets of Rome."

1.         The name (as a proper noun) for the incorporated city Brooksville (Florida) may not be Latinized Brooksvillense as printed on MHT ordination certificates.

a.         The suffix –ensis (-en-si and ultimately –si) is adjectival and denotes appurtenance, belonging to; it may also be the so-called “gentile ending,” coming from

b.         Adjectives formed by this suffix may be attached to appellatives of place, castrensis, ‘of a camp,’ forensis, ‘relating to the business of the Roman Forum’ hence ‘legal,’ or circensis, ‘belonging to the circus.’ The suffix may be attached to proper place names, the resultant form being used as a substantive: Thessalonicenses, ‘inhabitants of Thessalonica,’ Siciliensis, ‘a Sicilian.’ (Similarly, the suffix attached to the appellative atrium, ‘principal room of a house,’ produced the substantive-adjective atriensis, ‘the slave belonging to the principal room of the house,’ hence the ‘house-steward, major-domo, overseer of the main hall’; the adjectival character is always manifest to the Romanist (e.g., Siciliensis also means 'belonging to Sicily').

c.         In Latin, names of cities have two forms: a noun form and an adjective form. For instance, New York City has the noun form Neo-Eboracum, -i, and the adjective form Neo-Eboracensis; the city of Steubenville, Ohio, has Steubenvicus, -i as its noun form, and Steubenvicensis as its adjective form; Louisville, Kentucky, has the noun Ludovicopolis, -is, and the adjective Ludovicopolitanus.

d.         Both the noun form and the adjective form have distinct usages. As an example, the imprimatur granted in 1951 by Cardinal Spellman for The Raccolta was given ‘at New York City,’ the name of the place whence he issued it. Therefore, the noun form for o-stem locatives is used: Neo-Eboraci. When he signed his name and indicated his ecclesiastical title, he identified himself as the archbishop ‘belonging to New York City,’ and so he was obliged to use the adjective form: Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis.

e.         Accordingly, to indicate “at Brooksville,” Sanborn should have used a noun form in Latin, not an adjective form.

2.         Sanborn not only used the incorrect part of speech form to Latinize Brooksville, he also used the incorrect morpheme to signal place where.

a.         Any schoolboy knows (1) that in third declensions the locative looks like the ablative and (2) that in third-declension adjectives of two terminations (as is the suffix –ensis), the sign of the ablative is  –i, not –e (except in poetry and sometimes if the adjective is used substantively).

b.         Inasmuch as Sanborn and Cekada do not take instruction well, here follow proofs of the ablative morpheme  -i: Plautus: pro atriensi; Cicero: in quodam splendore forensi; Livy: circensi apparatu; Gaius: ex castrensi periculo; Acts of the Apostles: Aristarcho Macedone Thessalonicensi; Roman Martyrology: in Mauretania Caesariensi; Church history: in obedientia Avenionensi.

c.         The grammatical error aside, it’s really fruitless to educate Sanborn here because Brooksvillense, even if the case ending were correct, cannot be a Latin place noun because it has the form of an adjective, and any substantival use of the form would indicate the citizens of Brooksville, not the city itself.  

3.         As Catholics, we want to assist as well as instruct the ignorant. What, then, should Sanborn print on his certificates of completion and unthinking obedience? We have several options, none of which he will follow, and until the pesthouse closes, the poor completers will continue to be ordained “Brooksvillense.” (They won’t know the difference anyway.) Nevertheless, here are some alternatives, just for fun: 

a.          Sanborn might try adding the noun suffix –polis (the same we find in “metropolis,” “Indianapolis,” “Lithopolis” etc.) The “Brooks” portion is from Preston Brooks (the congressman, infamous for caning Sen. Charles Sumner in the Senate Chamber n 1856). Thus we might add the suffix to the surname, just as the Church did with Stanleyville (now Kisangani, Congo): Stanleypolis. However, with 'Brooks,' the suffix demands an epenthetic vowel as a euphonic buffer for the colliding consonants, so the end product might sound ridiculous. Alternatively, we might Latinize the address name Brooks and come up with Rivopolis or better, Rivulopolis. But then, it might be impossible for a reader of the certificate to verify the place of conferral of orders. Besides, the suffix -polis may just be a tad too grand for this little five-square-mile suburb of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. (Moreover, St.Pete’s itself is rightly Petropolis: dare we compare great things to small?).

b.         Another possibility that might save Sanborn’s adjective form for use outside the ordination certificate is to attach to 'Brooks.' or keep as a separate word, villa. But we’re reluctant, for Nashville has the Latin adjective form Nashvillensis but the Latin noun form Nasburgum. However, if Joinville in Brazil, whose adjective is Joinvillensis, has the noun form Joinvilla as does its French namesake in Haute-Marne, then we might say OK. But 'Brooksvilla' is not our preference: it sounds like a retirement-home for the down and out.

c.         The Reader’s unanimous choice for the noun form is Brooksvicus, for which we have as models Evansvicus (Evansville) and Steubenvicus (Steubenville), cities named after men whose names end in a consonant. The locative is then Brooksvici. The adjective would be Brooksvicensis, though we can hardly find a use for it since Sanborn is a wandering bishop without jurisdiction…except, on second thought, if we were to echo Livy and call the worthless riff-raff that hang out at MHT the factio Brooksvicensis.

d.         But if we were really asked our opinion, we would tell Sanborn just to leave the name of the city in English, preceded by the Latin prepositional phrase in urbe or by the lone preposition in, as was Archbishop Lefebvre’s custom. Unless the Church has sanctioned a Latin name or there exists in the historical record a Latin name, it’s safer all the way around--especially for the legal record!--not to get too fancy. And to think of all the embarrassment the American-English form would have saved!