When I hadn’t even graduated, I attended some sort of event, thing, something there at the faculty of philology.
The thing was about philologists and awards. The fact that I remember practically nothing makes it clear that it must have been a real waste of time.
What I do remember perfectly, and it is something I will never forget, is a sentence that one of the award winners said.
I don’t know him personally, but, according to fame, he was a pedantic guy.
When one is given an award in front of quite a few people, the custom is to thank everyone who, directly or indirectly, has contributed to the award-worthy achievement.
The guy said, in Latin, amor matris. Up to here, among classical philologists, fine, acceptable.
What exceeded the threshold was what he said next: «matris in genitive, both subjective and objective».
I don’t know if he gave time for the dramatic pause, to give us time to understand the reference, for us to applaud him, for the crickets to sing… or if the comment was simply so egregious that the half second until he continued with his next sentence took forever.
We in the audience looked at each other: had he really said that?
To be honest, the comment is grammatically correct. I would even say, witty. But it’s the kind of comment for which, by law, the attendees should throw paper balls at you.
To understand the whole thing, you have to know what this objective and subjective genitive thing is. Of course, it’s in my Latin from scratch course.
P. S. Remember that I’m just the one telling the story: don’t kill the messenger.