Nuticulus and Big Ears tackle the ablative absolute

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The Independent Online
'ET TU, Big Ears?' Noddy asked, the gold bell on his hat tinkling as he eyed his friend suspiciously. First, there was the book, then the animated television series. Now, Noddy goes Latin, writes Rhys Williams.

The Latin translation of Noddy and the Goblins (Nuticulus Satyrique), published by BBC Children's Books tomorrow, is by Leeds-based Elizabeth Brice, a former television producer, and her father, William Brice, a retired geography professor. The notion of confronting poor Noddy with the terrifying complexities of the ablative absolute came to Ms Brice while teaching Ancient Greek to Gillian Baverstock, a daughter of Noddy's creator, Enid Blyton.

Before tackling the text, the pair had to translate the characters. They were particularly proud of Noddy or Nuticulus - 'little nodding man' from nutare, 'to nod', and iculus, an ending meaning 'little'. PC Plod became Magister Pedester (Mister on Foot) and Big Ears took the existing Latin term of abuse for those with large ears, Auritus.

The story is marginally more contemporary than the language. Noddy is mugged by two goblins who steal his car for a joyride. However, the tale ends in pure fantasy as Magister Pedester, Auritus and Tundens Canis (Bumpy Dog) come to the rescue.

Nuticulus Satyrique now joins Alice in Wonderland (Alicia in Terra Mirabile), Winnie the Pooh (Winnie Ille Pu) and Tale of Peter Rabbit (Fabula de Petro Cuniculo) in the ranks of children's classics translated into Latin.

Although Ms Brice hopes it becomes a fun end-of-term reader for GCSE students, she expects most buyers to be classicists.

She is fascinated by translating, saying: 'I've just translated 'Kiss me Quick'. That's quite a hard one because is it you singular or you plural? Does it mean kiss me quickly or come here quickly and kiss me? I've settled on 'Da mi basia celeriter'.'