Walter Scott Anagrammatized

Laudator Temporis Acti has an interesting post on Sir Walter Scott’s library. If you haven’t already read it, go and do so before continuing.

Done? OK, let’s continue.

I was naturally curious about the anagram, wondering how Scott’s library motto, clausus tutus ero, worked as “an anagram of his name in Latin”. It took a little while, but I eventually figured out how to equate the two. Quite a few adjustments are necessary, not least because Latin has no W:

  1. As “his name in Latin” implies, we must add -US to the end of both names. With four Us in the motto and none in the name, that’s an obvious first step. (Should we treat U and V as equivalent and make that -VS rather than -US? Yes: more on this below.)
  2. With only two Ts in the motto and three in the name, we have to omit the second T in Scott, making the Latin ‘Scotus’, as in Duns Scotus, not ‘Scottus’. Whether ‘Scotus’ would have been pronounced with a long or short O, I do not know.
  3. We cannot make Walter ‘Gualterius’, the usual Latin equivalent, because there’s no G in the motto, and we need two more Us. Instead, we must make the W – not allowed in Latin – into two Vs, as often seen in early texts of Shakespeare. This is where the V-U equivalence comes in: W may be called ‘double U’, but I’ve always seen it spelled double V when divided.

To sum up, the only way I can see to make ‘Walter Scott’ and ‘clausus tutus ero’ anagrammatically equivalent is to spell them VVALTERVS SCOTVS and CLAVSVS TVTVS ERO.

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