Foreign Languages and Ivanhoe Progress

Eight years ago, I sat staring at my Latin prose composition homework. The assignment was to translate a few sentences and a couple of short, not-particularly-complex paragraphs from English into Latin. In that precise moment, however, it would have been equally effective to ask me to go find and slay a fire-breathing dragon, since the task of translating not just words, but entire thoughts into a language I had spent most of my life just reading seemed absolutely insurmountable. How did Cicero make his speeches so persuasive…and eloquent? How did Martial write such astringent, sharp-witted satires with so few words…in meter? Clearly a lot of talent was involved. Or, perhaps, magic.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have started to build the core features of our Ivanhoe WordPress Theme. We have created the ‘Games’ and ‘Moves’ custom post types and have a (mostly) functional template page for making new moves with the WordPress WYSIWYG editor hooked in. We’re currently working on how to relate moves to one another and display those relationships for each game, and it seems as though we’re making progress. (Or so Jeremy, Eric, and Wayne insist.) Here is some photographic evidence of a couple of us looking very serious and typing things:


And of what we’ve gotten done thus far:


Nevertheless, working on Ivanhoe sometimes feels a bit like a Latin prose comp throwback. Some five-line blocks of code have taken hours to get right, and the WordPress Codex seems to be written in an impenetrably-dense, grammar-book style. But in my current attempt to write and think in another language, I feel somewhat less bewildered. I am certainly no more prepared to write PHP functions and read WordPress’s Codex than I was to tackle the English-Latin exercises of Bradley’s Arnold with Gildersleeve’s grammar in hand. But I am not being left to my own devices to figure things out this time, and it has made a huge difference.

2013-14 Praxis Fellow and PhD Candidate in Classical Art & Archaeology working on South Italian Pottery and Vase-Painting. Indulges in reading sci-fi, petting cats, and eating chocolate.

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