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Report from Adam Gitner (TLL Fellow 2012-2013, 2013-2014)

Report on 2012-2013:

My experience at the Thesaurus has exceeded even the high hopes with which I began the fellowship. In addition to honing my ability to reason in depth about word and idiom, valuable for any philological undertaking, my work here has deepened my engagement with bilingualism in antiquity, the main focus of my research, and opened new vistas to explore through closer acquaintance with glossographic sources and Christian literature in Latin translation. I am grateful to the American Philological Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities for these opportunities as well as for the daily rewards of life in Munich, and am looking forward to continuing the fellowship for a second year.

Hands-on experience with lexicography and the resources of the Institute have contributed greatly to my research, which investigates Rome’s many-sided relationship with the Greek language and its speakers. For instance, working on the article for nauticus raised practical questions about linguistic interaction—was the word a wholesale borrowing or a combination of a borrowed root and a native suffix (naut- < nautos, -icus < PItal. *-ikos)?—and introduced me to new tools for resolving these questions. Working on almost any word brings a lexicographer into contact with the many different Greek equivalents that appear as either the target or product of translation, a feature of TLL articles that has the potential to shed much light on Greco-Latin contact. These and related issues are dear to me as I prepare my dissertation for publication, which uses Horace as a case study in bilingual interaction and relies extensively on the Thesaurus archive to assess the literary contribution of lexical borrowing, syntactic interference, linguistic purism, and other bilingual phenomena.

At the same time, I have gained familiarity with sub-disciplines in Classical Studies that are rarely taught in the United States. For instance, through the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität I have attended classes in Latin paleography, becoming acquainted with the rich manuscript holdings at the Bavarian State Library, and in working on reficio I have gained valuable experience with Latin inscriptions. These undertakings have taken me outside the Thesaurus library and into contact with scholars in a range of settings, for instance at the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica Institut, and the Department of Historical and Indo-European Linguistics, where I will be leading a seminar in the Fall on social variation in Latin. No doubt the friends and contacts I have made during my time here will be a life-long stimulus and reward.

In addition to the work I have done on several articles (nautea, nauticarius, nauticus, notia, recrudesco, redintegro, redintegratio, reficio), the Thesaurus has also provided an ideal setting in which to pursue independent lines of inquiry. As I have come to see, knowledge of Greek equipped Roman scholars to develop new forms of bilingual pedagogy, inquire more deeply into the relationship between languages, and reconstruct Italic prehistory. I have begun to address these topics, for instance, in a forthcoming paper on Varro’s views about Latin’s kinship with Greek and in a paper about how Greek speakers in Late Antiquity used Horace’s poetry to learn Latin. I am also looking forward to participating in a conference in Madrid in October on Greco-Roman contact (“III Encuentro Hispano Colombiano de Estudios de la Antigüedad”) and a refereed panel at the APA in January 2014 on Varro’s linguistic thought.

Yet documenting the varied life of each word is an end in itself, and some of the greatest rewards have accrued by pursuing this daily hunt through the archives with the fullest intensity. Leaving aside the off-color anecdotes I can now tell about Roman sailors, it has been a pleasure coming into contact with so many unfamiliar Latin texts, which range from a graffito written by a Pompeian cobbler to the late-Latin translations of Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews. For all these experiences, as well as the wonderful community of scholars here at the Thesaurus, from whom I have learned so much, I am continually grateful, and I look forward to sharing these benefits with future students and colleagues. 

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