Vale from the mezzanine! As we enter our last week at Dumbarton Oaks, the three of us cannot believe how quickly our time here has passed. Has it really been 70 days since we settled into bare desks? Regarded the book conveyor with wondrous awe? Feared death by mobile library shelves?
Over the past ten weeks, we have done our best to make upcoming publications conform to DOML style guidelines. At all times, a small army of computer programs, online resources, and reference books has defended Fort Mezzanine against the forces of error, confusion, and bad punctuation. Aside from the DOML style guide itself, our most constant companions are probably Dropbox, Word, the Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition!), and Merriam-Webster.
What do our holy commandments dictate? Format of the Latin and English must match, more or less. Punctuation and capitalization must be in accordance with CMOS. Words split across lines must break, like fine diamonds, into the pieces prescribed by Merriam. And most importantly (and subjectively), translations must be fluid and accessible to the general public while still remaining faithful to the original language.
Striving to abide by these tenets, we have overcome conflicting files, superfluities of en-dashes, and countless capitalization conundra (to say nothing of intentionally and unintentionally alliterative translations). We have encountered spellings and uses of English and Latin that confound our wildest expectations.
For more technical problems, a large cohort of crack resources always stands in reserve. Mysterious abbreviations, odd acronyms, Latin titles, and bizarre surnames abound on our desks and computers. TLL, DLD, Cetedoc (aka CDS aka LLT-A + LLT-B + MGH + ACLL + ALD), AH, Vetus Latina (online and Freiburg editions), Frede, Gryson, Sabatier, Deshusses, Lexikon des Mittelalters, MEL, CALMA, BISLAM, ODCC, DHGE, PL, AASS, Vogel, and Väänänen (yes, that’s right, Väänänen) are just some of our allies on the mezzanine.
Our neighbor up here, the very learned Scott Johnson, is always generous with his OLD and his DMLBS when things get really hairy. Fortunately for us, we have never needed to borrow any of Scott’s enormous collection of Syriac lexica, although we did once have to look through his dictionary of biblical Greek to see whether “cherubs” in the plural end with a nu or a mu in the Greek.
Memorable moments include catching errors in standard editions by looking through online digitizations of the original manuscripts (it’s deponeretur, Father Hanssens!), finding the perfect variant after sifting through 245 possibilities on the Vetus Latina, learning that certain priests find it meet to spit the body of the Lord…
From Alan to Amalarius, Hymns to Henry, our work at Dumbarton Oaks has certainly been unique in its frustrations and rewards. But if we’ve learned anything here, it’s that DO is much more than texts and gardens, edifices and artifacts, resources and reference books. This community of incredible people has inspired and guided us throughout our stay–we’ve learned so much from all of you.
Though our time here must end, we depart with a much-enriched perspective, in many ways greeting life anew. Šlāmā, dīy ‘ōw. Peace out, DO. We’ll miss you.