|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2017-03-13 12:20:00
|Entry tags:||hp ficlet hermione|
HP ficlet: Cod-Latin [Hermione, Ron, Harry, general]
Characters: Hermione, Ron, Harry
Length: 620 words
Summary: Hermione is teaching herself Latin.
Note: For espresso_addict, who asked for Hermione and gave the prompt, "cod-Latin spells -- why?" An Elementary Latin Grammar is a real book, by Henry John Roby, published in 1862. It's out of copyright, of course, and has been digitized; you can find and read it through Google Books (although I, as both a geek and a librarian, found it by poking through the University of Leeds catalogue).
"You're teaching yourself what?" Ron's and Harry's voices rose in unison.
"Latin," Hermione answered composedly, taking a bite of toast before turning the next page of An Elementary Latin Grammar, which she had unearthed from the Hogwarts library. It had been published in 1862, but since a dead language was hardly likely to change, she didn't see that as a problem although she did have to admit that more than a few of the example quotations were troubling.
"But why?" Ron asked, his expression baffled.
"Well, what language are spells cast in, Ron?"
"Not exactly," said Hermione. "A lot of it is cod-Latin; words that are really English but with Latin endings sort of tacked on to make them sound Latin."
"So if the spells aren't properly Latin, why are you studying it, then?" asked Harry.
"Partly just because it's interesting," said Hermione, causing Ron to groan. "Yes, it is. Partly because a lot of the older wizarding books are written in Latin, and most have never been translated, so if I want to do any real research, I need to be able to read them for myself. I have a theory about why most spells are in Latin or cod-Latin, you see."
Ron rolled his eyes and took an enormous bite of sausage, leaving Harry to say, "What's your theory?"
"Well." Hermione moved the ribbon to mark her place before she closed the book and set it aside. "I think that to begin with, spells were in Latin because that was the language of education, of writing, at the time Hogwarts was founded. There had been some writing in English—Old English, technically—before the Norman Conquest, but even then Latin had higher status because you could use it to communicate with educated people all across Europe who wouldn't have spoken English.
"Probably the first couple of generations of Hogwarts students had learned spells in English at home, but then learned more spells at school that were in Latin, and maybe they worked better. I don't know about that yet. Anyhow, they would have taken the spells they learned at school back home with them, and then their kids would have learned some of those growing up, until that was just the way it was: that the words for spells were, mostly, in Latin."
"I suppose that makes sense," said Harry, "but then what about cod-Latin? Why not use real Latin for the spells and stick with that?"
"What I think happened is that when everyone was accustomed to saying spells in Latin, they started to believe that they had to be in Latin to work properly. If you believed that, and then couldn't remember or didn't know the Latin words for something, you might try Latin-izing an English word instead.
"My theory is that it's not really the words that matter, it's the will of the wizard or witch who's saying them, their belief that the words will work. Non-verbal spells are all about the will, and they're harder because there aren't any words to focus the will on, that's all. If we all believe that Latin, or Latin-sounding, words make for better spells, then they do." Hermione gave Ron and Harry a brilliant smile. "If you really believed that saying 'Disarm!' would work as well as 'Expelliarmus!', you could say 'Disarm!' instead."
Ron pulled out his wand and flourished it. "So I could make this glass of pumpkin juice float by just saying... Levitate!"
The glass quivered and fell over, spilling juice everywhere.
Hermione sighed. "Tergeo," she said, pointing her wand at the puddle. The three of them watched as the juice siphoned back into the glass.
"You still have to practice, Ron," she said.