morem pellis hispidus distentione nervorum

By Arthur Peabody, in 'Incorrect/Pseudo Latin Phrases', Jul 4, 2017.

  1. Arthur Peabody New Member

    'Soon afterward, Zerwas came to the microphone and stood there, giving
    Cain what Jonathan Tilove, in his blog for the Austin American-Statesman,
    jokingly called the "morem pellis hispidus distentione nervorum": the
    hairy eyeball.'
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/10/americas-future-is-texas

    I get 'manner' ('mos' accusative), skin (nominative), rough
    (nominative), 'in a swelling' ('distentio' ablative - of fudge - never
    remembered all those ablative constructions), 'of nerves' (nervus,
    genitive plural). 'mos' is accusative because an omitted transitive
    verb or an idiomatic construction I've forgotten - I suspect the
    latter. 'Skin rough in the manner of a swelling of nerves'? 'His
    skin prickled from nerves'? I looked up accusative
    of manner but see it only in Greek. I can't get anything like 'hairy
    eyeball', which has now made it to Google Translate.
  2. Etaoin Shrdlu Imminent wormfood

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Ruritania
    Having looked up the blog, I think Tilove is trying to be cute. (Warning to those writers whose pretensions outstrip their talents and critical faculties: this is unlikely to be a good tactic.) He remembers that Esau is a hairy man, so he's found Qui prior egressus est, rufus erat, et totus in morem pellis hispidus in the Vulgate, and banged it together with something he's probably found in a Latin medical text referring to the eye. It doesn't work, unsurprisingly.
  3. Arthur Peabody New Member

    You remind me of Alan Bennett's sermon on Genesis 27:11, 'Esau my brother is an [sic]
    hairy man, and I am a smooth man', available on Youtube,
  4. Bestiola Caepa Cirrata

    • Praetor
    • Praeco
    "distentio nervorum" can also mean "a spasm", however, it's highly unlikely that the author was intentionally implying that Zerwas is being spasmodically hairy.

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