Latin Puzzle

I think it was Patterico’s Pontifications where I recently ran across a weblog called Verum Serum. An interesting name, since it has three or four meanings in Latin:

  1. True Whey (taking Verum as an adjective and Serum as a noun). I thought the second word meant ‘gravy’, but apparently not, at least in classical Latin. Which is too bad: “True Gravy” might almost work as a website name, but not “True Whey”.
  2. Late Truth (taking Verum as a noun and Serum as an adjective). Alternatively, this could mean “Too Late Truth” or “The Truth Too Late”, since the adjective has both meanings.
  3. Truth of the Chinese (taking both words as nouns, with Serum genitive plural). Just to be pedantic, “Chinese” here is plural, so perhaps “Truth of the Chinese people”. (Hmmm. That’s not clearly plural, either, since “people” may be a singular meaning “nation” or a plural meaning “persons, humans”. English is a tricky language.)

So which of these interesting possibilities is the right one? None, as it turns out: it’s only half Latin. As the proprietors say on their ‘About’ page, “Verum is Latin for truth, as in truth serum. Why Latin? Because we’re tired of the Catholic blogs hogging all the cool names.”

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One Response to Latin Puzzle

  1. Max Bini says:

    Yes but is it a truth serum or a serum for truth? Pharmakos carries this double meaning of cure and poison. Plato uses it to highlight the play of language in Phaedrus (probably my favourite Platonic dialogue) and by Derrida to highlight the play of language in Plato.

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