Monday, October 24, 2005

Jeopardy in need of a Latinist

Tonight on Jeopardy we learned that the Latin for the old Charlie Rich song 'Behind Closed Doors' would be 'januis clausis.'

Not 'post januas clausas' or even 'pone januas clausas.'

My response? 'What is "with the doors being closed, ..."?'

2 comments:

Liz D said...

Januis clausis, "with the doors being closed..." gives more of the sense of subsequent action(s) dependent upon the condition that the doors are in fact closed; an element very much in keeping with the meaning of the song. Using the preposition seems much weaker.

dennis said...

I disagree.

The ablative absolute is one possibility for 'And when we get behind closed doors /
Then she lets her hair hang down.'

But then you might as well say 'januis clausis mollitur' (or some such thing) since 'let's her hair hang down' is just idiomatic for 'she relaxes.'

But 'behind closed doors' also appears in the phrase 'Oh, no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors.'

I don't like the ablative absolute at all here (not that I'm terribly fond of it in the other place either).

Post januas clausas has the advantage of actually translating the title while working in either context (the temporal clause or the indirect question).

If the aim were to write a Latin composition, we could come up with lots of great possibilities in the Latin idiom, and we might even reject the doors (cum nostris claudamus tectis, ...?), but it's just misleading to say that 'januis clausis' translates the title 'Behind Closed Doors.'