flagellum equus mortuus

gao_yixing

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi
In the US Secretary of State daily press briefing on Feb 1, 2007, Sean McCormack used this phrase, which seems like Latin, in his response:

QUESTION: Still on this, President Chirac didn't say that he didn't mean what he said. He said he thought he was on off-the-record.
MR. MCCORMACK: You are venturing into flagellum equus mortuus territory, Nicholas.
What does this mean? Do the native speakers know this pharase? If not, this thread should be transfered to other languages section.
Thank you,
Anthony
 
  • Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I think it means 'flogging a dead horse'.

    It's not a phrase that is commonly known or used in English, as far as I know. (And it sounds incredibly facetious to me.)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is an allusion to "flogging a dead horse". I can't comment on the quality of this translation, or indeed of whatever equivalent version I have used myself in the past, but to many of us who have a little understanding of Latin and a good grasp of idiom the meaning is clear.

    Mr McCormack is suggesting that the questioner has pursued this line of questioning for too long and it's time he gave up.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Flogging a dead horse is very common. It means to try to do something that is demonstrably useless and pointless. No matter how hard a dead horse is flogged it will not run any faster.
    It is also reasonably common to use pig latin on common phrases.
    Nil illigatimus carborundum springs to mind. It is the equivalent of, "Don't let the bastards wear you down".

    .,,
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I know just enough about Latin to know that the "translation" is wrong.

    To flog a dead horse would be more like flagellare equum mortuum.

    There are lots of set Latin phrases in English, but this is not one of them.

    Some Latin phases have effectively become English:
    de facto, ad infinitum and ad nauseam are all used very frequently, [to name but three].
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I searched and found where I had seen a similarly feeble attempt ... an even more oblique reference to the English flogging of the dead horse - equus mortis est :)
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    You mob are picking too many nits.:p This is a particular type of slang.
    The point is not to be correct. The point is to be not correct. The point is to mock real Latin speakers. This is not classical Latin. This is not even idiomatic Latin.

    These type of 'translations' are Pig Latin or perhaps Pidgin Latin. They retain the same grammar and syntax as English and simply transpose Latin sounding words for their English counterparts. I am surprised that the referenced quote transposed equus andmortuus. I would have expected to see flagellum mortuus equus.

    .,,
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You mob are picking too many nits.:p
    [...] The point is not to be correct. The point is to be not correct. [...]
    Absolutely correct.

    If you happen to enjoy this kind of thing, you may find a few chuckles in the mottoes of the Ankh-Morpork Guilds - listed HERE.
    My personal favourite being FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC (The City Watch).
     

    Samuel Isaia Amm

    New Member
    English
    pulsus a mortuus equus.jpg

    Here is the coat of arms for Beating or Flogging a Dead Horse.
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Hi
    QUESTION: Still on this, President Chirac didn't say that he didn't mean what he said. He said he thought he was on off-the-record.
    MR. MCCORMACK: You are venturing into flagellum equus mortuus territory, Nicholas.

    In addition to the Latin meaning, which our colleagues have explained, this may also be an allusion to our manner of naming logical fallacies (e.g., "argumentum ad hominem," "petitio principii"). An extraordinary intellectual coup. :)
     
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