"Your by no means displeasing letter has arrived."
April 8, 2016 2:29 PM   Subscribe

In Erasmus' De Copia, "students learned how to vary a given idea in manifold ways by putting it into different forms and figures (developing copia, or abundance, of words and expressions). [...] Erasmus provided extended examples of copia in his text, the most famous of which includes several hundred variations upon the same, initially insipid sentence, 'Your letter pleased me greatly.'"

(The PDF linked above contains only 82 of Erasmus' variations on tuae litterae me magnopere delectarunt. He followed up the excercise by ringing 200 changes on the phrase semper dum vivam tui meminero—"I will remember you as long as I live.")
posted by Iridic (30 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
Your FPP exhilarated me intensely.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:32 PM on April 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


This post elicited the most wonderful reaction from me!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:52 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


If this post displeases you then raise your flag aloft but idle not and journey forth from hither.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:56 PM on April 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


From this post an unaccustomed happiness swept over my spirits!
posted by Kortney at 2:57 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


They pile up a meaningless heap of words and expressions without any discrimination, and thus obscure the subject they are talking about, as well as belabouring the ears of their unfortunate audience.

Aye, Erasmus. That's the danger.
posted by little onion at 3:02 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: a meaningless heap of words
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Good God, what a mighty joy proceeded form your epistle!"

Ha. One at least on every page.
posted by hank at 3:06 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was not without the greatest joy that I received your post.
posted by Quasirandom at 3:10 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I did not hesitate to not refrain from not reading this post, as I am not one to withstand avoiding the not inconsiderable lack of distaste which avoids avoiding me when not unconfronted with a double negative.
posted by crazylegs at 3:18 PM on April 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


F U Queneau.
posted by kenko at 3:24 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


This post iight.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:26 PM on April 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Your incomparable post, a pearl of veratible delight, flooded me with an intense verbal orgasmic joy.

Am i doing it rite?
posted by BlueHorse at 4:21 PM on April 8, 2016


I was recently poking through Erasmus' delightful Adages, where he comments on an exhausting number of classical adages, both familiar and peculiar. One that has never made the leap to English comes from Aristotle, who writes in his Rhetoric, "If you are urging someone not to make friends with an old man, you will appeal to the proverb, 'Never show an old man kindness.'" As is often the case with adages where there are few extant classical examples, the adage is hardly illuminated by its context, so Erasmus has to do the heavy lifting of making a bizarre statement seem sensible. Erasmus concludes that it's because the old man is liable to die, and then he'll never be able to repay you for the kindness.
posted by vathek at 6:03 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


D'amour mourir me font, belle Marquise, vos beaux yeux.
posted by uosuaq at 6:09 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


What's that? You want to read all of them? Here you go! warning: Latin, 16th-century font
posted by theodolite at 6:10 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have not the words to describe the joy with which I am filled, having cast my wayward eyes upon the beauty that is this fpp.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:16 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


看得愉快
posted by wobumingbai at 6:53 PM on April 8, 2016


Erasmus has to do the heavy lifting of making a bizarre statement seem sensible

Reminds me of Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica aka /wiki/Liſt_of_commone_Miſconceptions which includes gems like "do badgers have shorter legs on one side? Answer: no."
posted by theodolite at 7:15 PM on April 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yes, Browne had certainly read his Erasmus and was (after Burton) the great master of English copia. The badger section you've translated to modern English deserves to be read in Browne's words: "That a Brock or Badger hath the legs of one side shorter than the other, though an opinion perhaps not very ancient, is yet very generall; received not only by theorists and unexperienced beleevers, but assented unto by most who have the opportunity to behold and hunt them daily. Which notwithstanding upon enquiry I finde repugnant unto the three determinators of truth, Authority, Sense, and Reason."
posted by vathek at 7:27 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Wait, so crystal is not ice strongly congealed? My life is a lie.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:28 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was not familiar with Erasmus's work on this, and I am delighted to discover it. I learned a similar skill listening to W.C. Fields, especially his radio work. His ability to take a common sentiment and endow it with mellifluous variations was something that really got into my ears and became part of who I am (One of my favorites: "How are you, this effulgent a.m.?"). I suspect that Fields spoke in this way as much, or more so, to amuse himself, than to impress anyone else. It's certainly why I do it.

My own favorite adjective to interject (sparingly!) into daily speech is "startlingly."
"The sunset was startlingly beautiful."
"His comments were startlingly candid."

Thanks for this post. It made me startlingly happy.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 7:31 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


This post is one of the least benightedly unpleasant missives it has ever been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid reading.
posted by chimaera at 8:57 PM on April 8, 2016




Ok, Ok, I'll write more often.
posted by Segundus at 9:58 PM on April 8, 2016


Substitute "email" for "letter" in the list:

Your brief emailflooded me with inexpressible Joy.
As a result of your email, I was suffused by an unfamiliar gladness.
Your email poured vials of joy on my head.
The perusal of your email charmed my mind with singular delight.

I plan to use these immediately!
posted by FroggyTheGremlin at 10:18 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wait, so crystal is not ice strongly congealed? My life is a lie.

I read concealed at first glance. And I must convey that at the sight of this letter the frown fled from my mind’s brow.
posted by sapagan at 11:39 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Maybe Erasmus was fending off the sodium amytal?

(You? Never did. --the Kenosha Kid.)
posted by chavenet at 2:41 AM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Unmitigated was my joy upon the apprehension by my mind's eye of these delightful constructions. Such pleasure is rarely vouchsafed to merely mortal individuals such as myself. I thank you from the bottom of my unworthy heart.
posted by kaymac at 5:58 AM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


These mellifluous comments stoke the fires of my affection for... this kind of thing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:56 AM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


[this is good]
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:45 PM on April 12, 2016


« Older A new role for an old protein   |   "Cheesecake, Chalkpit, Nutter, Butter, Crumple... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments