Translating Spring

April 3, 2015

We have all heard the phrase, 'when in Rome, do as the Romans do.' We should apply this idea to spring: when in spring, do as nature does. Even if you do not grow a garden, you may be interested in the roots of our language. Much of our language regarding gardens and plants comes from ancient Greek and Latin. This week (this Good Friday), spend some time learning your roots.

For example, did you know that:

  1. anthology and chrysanthemum come from the same root: anthos, meaning flower
  2. organic comes from organon, the ancient Greek word for an instrument or tool
  3. water comes from hudor, the ancient Greek form of hydro-
  4. the ancient Greek phuton has evolved into plant ... and
  5. xeric comes from the ancient Greek word xeri (dry)?

Or, did you know that plants are given Latin names to help us identify any specific plant trait which then enables us to better identify different varieties? Latin names can be used to identify: color, height, length and shape of leaves, preferred soil conditions, whether it climbs, if it is edible, etc. A few examples follow:

  1. aurea is used to describe a golden, yellow flower
  2. flava is another term used for yellow, flaxen, golden
  3. florida means flowery, blooming or florid
  4. -folia is the Latin name indicating that a plant has leaves
  5. quercus is the Latin name for an oak tree

Now, for some play, let's watch a phrase grow. How would you translate:

Parvis e glandibus quercus.

We know that the latin root of parvis means small. The 'e' translates to something like 'out of' or 'as a result of'. And finally quercus has been identified as the oak tree. Glandibus, the missing link, translates to acorn, and therefore, we can roughly translate the phrase into:

Small out of oak tree acorns.

Or better...small acorns grow from oak trees.

Or more polished yet, greatness starts small.

You can work on it yourself. Take a few moments of your day to polish off our Latin translation. Enjoy!