Shocking as it may seem, I may qualify as multilingual. These past couple years, any regular reader of my humble submissions to The Lima News is acutely aware of the fact that I possess minimal skill and no mastery of the English language. Even with six decades of experience, I know how to linguistically stand, and mostly sit, corrected.
Two weeks with a substitute teacher fluent in Russian was all it took for me during fifth grade to learn and retain a cursory Slavic vocabulary. Since then, I remain able to count from zero to eight, extend a cordial greeting and even recite a basic dialogue in that tongue.
With a Spanish elective available in both junior high and high school, I spent five years immersed in español. Far surpassing my elementary fluency in Russian, I’m able to count to one hundred in Spanish, can stumble through a limited and congenial conversation on my own and could underwhelm a festive gathering with renditions of “Feliz Navidad” and “Cumpleaños Feliz.”
Seminary training forced upon me two semesters toward developing a working knowledge of Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament. Modestly, I still regularly dust off the good Greek book for teaching and preaching preparation.
Growing up with a grandmother from the old country, I can dabble in some Deutsche, too, “danke shoen” very much! Gather around the dinner table and watch me count place settings and welcome everyone to “guten appetit” and “enjoy your meal.”
Of late, however, I am discovering a lingual manifestation which previously could only be described as latent. Having had no formal training in this classic ancient language, Latin seems to have dramatically come out of hiding for me and taken center stage.
Credit the movie “Dead Poets Society” with instructing me on the meaning of “carpe diem,” or “seize the day.” Credit our U.S. currency with eloquently and dutifully communicating the merits of “E pluribus unum” or “out of many, one,” among a number of other Latin platitudes. Credit my diploma for making me an “alumnus,” with a legitimate “alma mater,” though I know nothing of the highly honorable achievement of “summa cum laude.” Beyond all the above acquired nomenclature of this ancient Roman language, I might add, “et cetera.”
Wishing no disrespect toward any elected officials and with no intention of minimizing the significance and seriousness of the current impeachment deliberations, credit Washington, D.C. for elevating, illuminating, and inserting into our vocabulary “quid pro quo,” or “this for that.”
Given the aforementioned investigation, who isn’t hoping the intensifying proceedings will prove to be “pro bono,” or “for the good” of the public? My guess is, and regardless of which side of the aisle one resides, some are wanting of an “alibi” or that they would prefer to be “elsewhere.” When and if the dust ever settles, we trust the results are “de facto,” or “simply a fact.”
Many experts are appropriately determined to uncover all that qualifies as “verbatim,” or “word-for-word” and opposed to anything “vice versa.”
Planted, I believe, on “terra ferma” or on “solid ground” when I say this, I must confess “ex post facto,” or “realized in hindsight,” I’m likely guilty of “quid pro quo” “ad infinitum!” Imbedded within multiple events, it may have been “going on forever” with me. Conduct qualified as “something for something” has been manifest more often than I care to admit, actually.
Secretly suppressed, I hoped the apple placed on my elementary school teacher’s desk would translate into some degree of disciplinary leniency given any subsequent misbehavior and bring academic accommodation by grading on a curve. Countless were the days I downed the dreaded liver and onion dinner so as to merit a palate-cleansing dessert of orange sherbet in return. Voluntarily I periodically offered to mow the lawn without being told in order to access the keys to the family LeSabre over the weekend with friends.
Honestly, I gave my girlfriend flowers in college subconsciously dreaming she would someday want to be my wife. It turned out she did! As a parent, who hasn’t succumb to the pressure, in the grocery story checkout line, to squelch a tantrum with a last minute purchase? Somewhat regrettable, we knew the snack would silence them, tit for tat.
Truthfully, even as a member of the clergy, I claim no absolute immunity in the deep recesses of my being from “something for something” subtly lurking in something I say or do. Any “strings attached” are hardly visible or intended, but may still be perceived as such. Even in a cursory evaluation of my history, honest examples of “quid pro quo” might add up “ad nauseam,” or “to the point of sickness.”
Given all the deliberations unfolding in the halls of government, who isn’t praying that “rigor mortis” doesn’t set in for any glued to the tube. No one wishes anyone to experience the “stiffness of death” while witnessing endless testimonies. With the extensive coverage, it would be a “mea culpa” or “my bad” were I to tune in round-the-clock and have it even “carpe noctem,” and “seize the night!”
As to my own offenses in connection with any “quid pro quo,” I simply “petere ut tibi remittatur,” and “ask your forgiveness.”
Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org