Tinnitus, tinnitus, semper tinnitus

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, so we’re about to embark on the official season of Christmas songs and Christmas shopping (though both have been upon us for some time, and Christmas decorations have been up for some time as well — at the restaurant Reposado in Palo Alto they went up right after Halloween). Periodically I post about about Christmas music, especially weird stuff; my daughter Elizabeth, grand-daughter Opal, and other friends feed me great stuff. In 2012, among my Christmas music postings was “The multicultural Christmas playlist, mostly Jingle Bells”, where I mentioned in passing the Latin translation of the song that I learned in high school, nearly 60 years ago. The part I still recall is the chorus:

Tinnitus, tinnitus, semper tinnitus
O tantum est gaudium dum vehimur in trahā

(There are other translations into Latin out there.) Now to look at the Latin.

[A personal note: the class (at Wilson Joint High School in West Lawn PA) where I learned the Latin chorus above was taught by Verna Irene Seitzinger, who explained her name in detail at the beginning of the year: Latin first name, Greek middle name, German last night (all three of which she glossed in detail; she loved languages, not just Latin). At the time, Miss Seitzinger lived in West Lawn, not far from where I’d gone to grade school, in a little house with a lovely little garden. She taught generations of kids, some of them children of her former students, and even (I think) grand-children. She was born 2/6/1906 and died 5/10/1995 (aged 89), still in Berks County PA, but no longer in West Lawn. She never married; her students were in effect her children.]

A pretty literal (and therefore dismayingly flat-footed) translation of the chorus

‘Jingling, jingling, always jingling / O so great a pleasure it is while/when we will ride in a sleigh’

bit by bit:

tinnitus, ‘a jingling, ringing’: perfect passive participle (functioning as a noun)  of the verb tinniō ‘to ring, jingle, clink’

semper, adverb ‘always’, as in Semper Fidelis

O, vocative particle ‘O’

tantum, adjective ‘so great’

est, 3sg present of the verb esse ‘to be’

gaudium, (2nd declension)  noun ‘joy’ (cf. Gaudeamus igitur)

dum, subordinating conjunction ‘while’ (or ‘when’ in the sense of ‘while’)

vehimur, 1pl future passive of the (3rd conjugation) verb vehere ‘to carry, bear, convey, transport’ but in the passive ‘to ride, be borne’

in, preposition ‘in’

trahā, ablative sg of the (1st declension) noun traha ‘vehicle without wheels, a drag, sledge’ (or ‘sleigh’)

Sleds, sledges, and sleighs. From Wikipedia:

A sled, sledge, or sleigh is a land vehicle with a smooth underside or possessing a separate body supported by two or more smooth, relatively narrow, longitudinal runners that travels by sliding across a surface. Most sleds are used on surfaces with low friction, such as snow or ice. [There’s considerable variation in usage from place to place, but UK and US usages agree on this much:]

Sleigh refers to a moderate to large-sized, usually open-topped vehicle to carry passengers or goods, and typically drawn by horses or dogs [or reindeer]

A very Christmassy sleigh, with wonderful golden runners (and Christmas presents), but without the animals drawing it (imagine reindeer) or any passengers (imagine Santa Claus):

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