Canadian Classical Bulletin/Bulletin canadien des études anciennes    (ISSN 1198-9149)
Volume 12.10.1 (2006 06 22)
Editors/Redacteurs: J. W. Geyssen (University of New Brunswick) & J. R. Porter (University of Saskatchewan)     <

Published by the Classical Association of Canada/ Publié par la société canadienne des études classiques

President: Martin Cropp (University of Calgary) <>
Secretary/Secretaire: Patrick Baker (Université Laval) <>
Treasurer/Tresorier: Annabel Robinson (University of Regina) <>
Contents of CCB/BCEA 12.10.1 (2006 06 22)                                           Return to CCB Archive   /   BCÉA Archives
        1. Association Announcements
                     (2006 Sight Translation Competitions)
        2. Calls for Papers
                     (Sixteenth-Century Commentary)

Association Announcements

From: John Porter
2006 Sight Translation Competitions

The 2006 Sight Translation Competitions were held on January 16 (high school Latin papers), January 18 (Latin papers), and January 25 (Greek papers). Following last year's practice, I continued to rely a great deal on electronic media in advertising the competitions and delivering the scripts. The system works fairly well, but there are still some glitches and frustrations.

One change that seemed to cause some difficulties: I set the university competitions on Wednesday instead of Thursday this year, which clearly did not fit well with class schedules at some institutions. I would appreciate feedback on this point but, unless I hear differently, will revert to Thursday next year.

You will find that two sets of submissions were disqualified. Both arrived well after the stated deadline of 10 February (i.e., well more than 25 days / 16 days after the dates of the two contests in question; in neither case were postal delays involved). There are a number of reasons for the February deadline, not least being the examiners' desire to take advantage of the February break to read through the submissions. As a result, while I did wait until 2-3 days past the deadline before couriering the scripts to the examiners, I did not forward entries that arrived thereafter.

In general, I would urge that institutions establish some regular system for dealing with the competitions. Despite two calls for submissions in the CCB and individual reminders from me to every university department, a fair number of institutions did not register for the competition until well past the December 1 deadline, while it is common each year to find institutions or individual faculty failing to mail in their students' scripts in a timely fashion. It is simply not fair to add to the duties of us volunteers in this way, particularly at what by late-February/March is an especially busy time for all of us.

On a more positive note, I would like to thank Thomas Schmidt of Laval University once again for generously volunteering his assistance. Professor Schmidt provided invaluable service over the Winter in helping me to proofread material and, in more than one instance, crafting the script that was employed in the competition and in my correspondence with the winners.

As the following figures indicate, submissions were generally down in comparison to 2005. We made up some ground in the high school competition, but I still need to work on advertising that competition more effectively.

2006 Submissions:

Jr. Greek: 59   (2005: 72;   2004: 71;   2003: 54)
Sr. Greek: 29   (2005: 32;   2004: 28;   2003: 28)   [late/disqualified submissions: 3]
Jr. Latin: 90   (2005: 123;   2004: 113;   2003: 61)
Sr. Latin: 68   (2005: 80;   2004: 69;   2003: 47)
High School Latin: 61   (2005: 72;   2004: 54;   2003: 78)   [late/disqualified submissions: 15]

The results are as follows:


Pliny Epistulae 3.14 (adapted)
61 entries
Examiner: David Page, Trent University

• 1st Prize: Arden Rogow-Bales, Toronto French School
• 2nd Prize: Rafael Krichevsky, University of Toronto Schools
• 3rd Prize: April Ross, Waterloo Collegiate Institute
• Honourable Mention: Rae Desson, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, and Daniel Owen, St. George's School

Examiner's comments:

Of the 61 entries for 2006, only two were incomplete and only one, after beginning well, deteriorated into "silliness." Generally the standard was quite high, with well over half those entering gaining at least a "good" result. No entry was perfect but the highest 25 or so students had difficulty with only the occasional phrase. The sentence causing the greatest problem for a large number of entrants was Tum demum quasi aestu solutus effertur, which tended to be translated as "Then finally the heat was brought to an end." A few had difficulty distinguishing between "active" and "passive" and many believed excipiunt meant "escaped" or "left." On the positive side there were some excellent renderings of fidem peractae mortis implevit, such as "he succeeded in convincing them that they had killed him" and "he tricked them into believing that they had pulled off his murder." Most students understood very well indeed what was happening in the passage, perhaps partly because extensive vocabulary help was provided. The overall quality (even with most of the papers deemed "poor") was quite impressive and not at all out of line with translations produced by university students towards the end of their second full year of Latin.

Xenophon, Cyropaedia 7.3.14-15
59 entries
Examiner: Aara Suksi, University of Western Ontario

Recipients of the Margaret H. Thomson Prizes:

• 1st Prize: Rhéa El Housseini, Université de Montréal
• 2nd Prize: Stuart Hill, University of Victoria
• 3rd Prize: Timothy Riggs, Dalhousie University
• Honourable Mention: Zachary Moull, Dalhousie University

Examiner's comments:

There were 59 entries in all. I enjoyed reading them very much and I am impressed by the general level of competence displayed. I can make the following general remarks about where difficulties came up:

• The first prize paper really stood out for accuracy of translation as well as elegance of style.
• There were many difficulties with the e(/ws a)/n ... o)du/rwmai clause in the first sentence. The conjunction was not often recognized, nor even the fact that the form was in the subjunctive.
parame/nein was often mistaken for perime/nein.
• The dative adjective e(ni/ was frequently ignored.
• The verb forms e(w/ra, e)ka/qhto, e)piqei=sa, h)/|sqeto, and i(/etai were often not recognized.
• Only one entry correctly translated the clause ei)/ ti du/naito bohqh=sai.
• The failure to recognize the crasis in the last sentence (ka)kei=noi) resulted in many creative translations for this word (most of them having to do with the idea of evil).

Augustine, On the City of God 1.15 (adapted)
90 entries
Examiner: Michael Cummings, Queen's University

Recipients of the Margaret H. Thomson Prizes:

• First Prize: Timothy Riggs, Dalhousie University
• Second Prize: Catherine Émond, Université de Montréal
• Third Prize: Jasvinder Pandher, University of Toronto
• Honorable mention: Amelia Hardjasa, University of British Columbia
• Honorable Mention: Éloïse Lemay, Université de Montréal

Examiner's comments:

About half of the ninety entries had major errors or gaps, or were written in something only approximating English. Of the remainder, close to twenty were respectable, and of those about ten had very few errors, including three of the four French entries (a disappointingly low total).

The most common problem among the better entries was failing to recognize a passive infinitive (reddi), and not recognizing that the reflexive suis referred to the subject of the sentence. The phrase si minime peregisset also caused a lot of suffering: it was most usually translated along the lines of "if he achieved the least bit."

The nonsensical English of many of the entries raises a problem I often face; how do we convince students that if the English version does not make sense, it cannot be accurate, and not to offer unintelligible translations? We clearly need to stress to students that they should think carefully about what their translations might mean. Many students also find it difficult to balance accuracy with fluency, and I have no suggestions here — I prefer my students to offer accurate but stilted translations rather than fluent paraphrases, so I am guilty myself of not preparing students better for producing something stylish.

Finally, many of the better entries fell short of excellence because they had not paid enough attention to the Latin word order and took the jigsaw puzzle approach. Students should probably be forced to do more metaphrasing.

For the most part, these comments do not apply to the French entries, whose syntax and overall accuracy was on average much better than those of the English entries.

Demosthenes, Against Meidias 48-50
29 entries
Examiner: Robert Todd, University of British Columbia

• First prize: Catherine Émond, Université de Montréal
• Second prize: Zoe Misiewicz, University of Toronto
• Third prize: Jane Burkowski, Queen's University
• Honourable Mention: Ben Addis, University of British Columbia

Examiner's comments:

There were 29 scripts (28 English; 1 French). The passage was challenging, and while the long blurb ensured that its general thread was maintained, even the winners had problems with vocabulary: e.g., a)ndra/poda, guessable as a synonym for the earlier dou=loi; and the figurative sense of dieci/wn, widely rendered as a verb of motion. The syntax proved an obstacle in places, especially the correlated o(/swn and tou/tous, a minefield since the pronoun did not precede the relative.

Minucius Felix, Octavius 25.1-7
68 entries
Examiner: James Rives, York University

• 1st Prize: Anthony Laughrane, University of British Columbia
• 2nd Prize: Kyle Gervais, Queen's University
• 3rd Prize: Jane Burkowski, Queen's University
• Honourable Mention: Tristan Thomas William Sharp, University of Victoria

Examiner's comments:

I've finally made time to go through the Senior Latin sight translations. This proved to be a very interesting exercise, not least in revealing how little sense I have of what Latin vocabulary good university students are likely to know! For example, the verb polleo, pollere occurs in the first sentence, in an easily recognizable form; I thought nothing of it, but only a tiny fraction of the entrants knew it. It was the vocabulary that I misjudged more than the grammar; with the latter, people largely had trouble in the places where I expected them to have trouble. But my impression is that what gave people the most trouble was the rhetorical structuring of many sentences, which was in a broadly Ciceronian vein: thus many did not pick up on parallel constructions and antitheses, and as a result went astray trying to decode the syntax.

Overall, I thought students made a good showing. Of the 68 entries, maybe two-thirds managed to get through most of the passage and make at least some sense out of most of it. About 18 had a more or less decent grasp of the whole passage. This I thought was pretty good for a somewhat elaborate (rhetorically if not syntactically) passage from an author of whom most of them had probably never even heard. But in the end, only six or eight required close attention.

It was not always easy to make distinctions among this group. The first-place entry was notably the best, but the next three were very close in quality, and it was by no means obvious how to rank them.

Lastly, I should note that all the entries were in English; none at all in French, which is regrettable.


I would like to thank all of the examiners for the time and energy that they have put into this year's competitions, and for their excellent work.

The list of winners has been posted on the CAC WWW site (, as has a list of this year's passages (with links to pdf versions of the examination papers).

Respectfully submitted,
John Porter

Calls for Papers
From: John Porter

Sixteenth-Century Commentary
University of Saskatchewan

The Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies programme at the University of Saskatchewan is pleased to announce a conference on "Sixteenth-Century Commentary" to be held in Saskatoon on May 24-25, 2007.

The Renaissance recovery of classical texts; the development of printing and the spread of literacy; exploration, trade, colonization, and increasingly conspicuous consumption; the Reformation return to the sources of Christianity; the critique of authority engendered by religious controversy and the beginnings of science — these are among the factors that made commentary on authoritative texts a dynamic genre in the rapidly changing sixteenth century.

Topics for 20-minute papers or 90-minute panels may include (but are not limited to) changing definitions and types of commentary, development and format of the printed commentary, commentary as a vehicle of controversy, issues of attribution and authority, and the sixteenth century in the history of commentary from its ancient beginnings to the present.

Papers may be given in English or French. Proposals of 200-300 words for papers or of 500-750 words for panels should be submitted by August 15, 2006, either through the CMRS web site, <>, or by mail to "Sixteenth-Century Commentary" Committee, CMRS/Department of History, 9 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK   S7N 5A5, Canada.

Next regular issue 2006 07 15
Send submissions to <>