[Note: The following is an linguistic examination of a modern musical aspect of human culture. It is not meant for pious meditation. Heck, it may well offend.]
First, you may want to refresh your memory on the lyrics for “Baby Got Back”. (This is a family-friendly blog–most of the time–so I won’t copy the lyrics here.)
De clunibus magnis amandis oratio
Rebecca, ecce! tantae clunes isti sunt!
(Rebecca, behold! Such large buttocks she has!)
amica esse videtur istorum hominum rhythmicorum.
(She appears to be a girlfriend of one of those rhythmic-oration people.)
sed, ut scis,
(But, as you know)
quis homines huiusmodi intellegere potest?
(Who can understand persons of this sort?)
colloquuntur equidem cum ista eo tantum, quod scortum perfectum esse videtur.
(Verily, they converse with her for this reason only, namely, that she appears to be a complete whore.)
clunes, aio, maiores esse!
(Her buttocks, I say, are rather large!)
nec possum credere quam rotondae sint.
(Nor am I able to believe how round they are.)
en! quam exstant! nonne piget te earum?
(Lo! How they stand forth! Do they not disgust you?)
ecce mulier Aethiops!
(Behold the black woman!)
magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri.
(Large buttocks are pleasing to me, nor am I able to lie concerning this matter.)
quis enim, consortes mei, non fateatur,
(For who, colleagues, would not admit,)
cum puella incedit minore medio corpore
(Whenever a girl comes by with a rather small middle part of the body)
sub quo manifestus globus, inflammare animos
(Beneath which is an obvious spherical mass, that it inflames the spirits)
virtute praestare ut velitis, notantes bracas eius
(So that you want to be conspicuous for manly virtue, noticing her breeches)
clunibus profunde fartas(*1) esse [--his footnotes are added below after the second translation--]
(Have been deeply stuffed with buttock?)
a! captus sum, nec desinere intueri possum.
(Alas! I am captured, nor am I able to desist from gazing.)
o dominola mea, volo tecum congredi
(My dear lady, I want to come together with you)
pingereque picturam tui.
(And make a picture of you.)
familiares mei me monebant
(My companions were trying to warn me)
sed clunes istae libidinem in me concitant.
(But those buttocks of yours arouse lust in me.)
o! cutis rugosa glabraque! (*2)
(O skin wrinkled and smooth!)
dixistine te in meum vehiculum intrare velle?
(Did you say you wish to enter my vehicle?)
in arbitrio tuo totus veni
(I am entirely at your disposal)
quia non es mediocris adsecula.
(Because you are not an average hanger-on.)
vidi illam saltantem.(*3)
(I have seen her dancing.)
obliviscere igitur blanditiarum! (*3a)
(Forget, therefore, about blandishments!)
tantus sudor! tantus umor!
(Such sweat! Such moisture!)
vehor quasi in curru quadrigarum! (*4)
(I am borne along as if by a four-horse chariot!)
taedet me in diurnis legendi
(I am tired of reading in the gazettes)
planas clunes gratiores iudicari.
(That flat buttocks are judged more pleasing.)
rogate quoslibet Aethiopes: responsum erit
(Ask any black men you wish: the answer will be)
se libentius expletiores (*5) anteponere.
(Rather that they prefer fuller ones.)
o consortes (quid est?) o consortes (quid est?)
(O colleagues [What is it?] O colleagues [What is it?])
habent amicae vestrae magnas clunes? (certe habent!)
(Do your girlfriends have large buttocks? [They certainly have!])
hortamini igitur ut eas quatiant (ut quatiant!)
(Encourage them therefore to shake them! [To shake them!])
ut quatiant! (ut quatiant!)
(To shake them! [To shake them!)
ut quatiant illas clunes sanas!
(To shake those healthy buttocks!)
domina mea exstat a tergo! (*6)
(My mistress stands out behind!)
Malo ut illas maiores rotondasque sint
(I prefer that they are quite large and round)
et cum hospitium profiteor
(and when I proffer my hospitality)
me continere non possum
(I am not able to restrain myself)
in modum animalis me gero
(I conduct myself in the manner of an animal)
hic est infamia
(this is my disgrace)
volo ut apud me venias et
(I would like that you come to my house and)
(that we copulate)
(I say! I say!)
Non disputo de arte amatoria
(I do not hold forth concerning a well-known publication about lust)
illa membra artificiosa ad ludendum facta sunt
(those artificial body parts are made for playing)
Cupio ut pingues sucosaeque sint
(I desire that they be fat and juicy)
hac causa necesse est tibi sucosos geminos invenire
(for this reason, it is necessary for you to find the juicy twins)
Mixaloto molestia est
(There is trouble for Mixalot)
flagitanti illae bullae partem
(who is earnestly demanding a part of that bubble)
Igitur symphonias specto quae adulescentibus placent
(Therefore I watch the musical performances which the teenagers enjoy)
observans illas feminas pictas ambulantes in modum scortorum
(watching these painted women walking after the manner of whores)
Tibi licet istas feminas tenere
(You may keep those women)
Habebo feminas meas tam sanas quam Flo-Io
(I will have my women as healthy as Flo-Jo)
Pingues adloquor, sorores animae: Cupio ut nos coniungamus
(I address the fat, sisters of the soul: I desire that we ally ourselves
Neque exsecrationes dicam neque vos feriam
(Neither will I utter imprecations nor will I smite you)
Sed necesse est mihi aperte dicere cum inquam “Volo futuere
(But it is necessary for me to speak openly when I say “I wish to have sexual intercourse)
(until it grows light”)
Dominola mea optimam rem agit [*] [--his footnote follows the first set of footnotes--]
(My mistress does the best thing)
Multi homines molles hoc carmen non diligent
(Many soft men will not esteem this song)
quia isti vexatores rem gerere et deserere malunt
(because those ruffians desire to conduct the thing and abandon it)
Et ego malo lascivire morarique,
(And I myself prefer to gambol and delay)
Quia longus et fortis sum
(Because I am long and strong)
et avidus tritum rei adhibere
(And eager to apply friction to the matter)
O dominae! (Quid est?) Dominae! (Quid est?)
(O ladies! (What is it?) Ladies! (What is it?))
Si cupiunt ut in mea raeda pretiosissima volutemur,
(If you desire that you may roll about in my extremely expensive carriage)
terga vertete! clunes protrudete!
(Turn your hides! Make your buttocks protrude!)
Iuvenes albi etiam clamare debent!
(Even white youth ought to shout!)
Domina mea exstat a tergo!
(Baby got back!)
Part one footnotes:
(*1) Any apparent connection with flatulence, even in this context, is purely coincidental.
(*2) The original doesn’t make much sense either. Is it a cellulite reference? — ADDENDUM Nov. 14, 2003: The reading of the text here is a problem which has much exercised the scholarly community, with attempts to explain “rumpled smooth skin,” or to suggest that it is a pun (a lame one, if you ask me) on Rumplestiltskin. The likeliest reading is “rub her smooth skin” (cutem glabram eius tere [or terere volo]). Now, there are ten pages of comments below, and a great many of them are devoted to this matter. Please familiarize yourself with the status quaestionis before making your own contribution. — UPDATE 12/9/03: a reader tells us that Sir Mixalot’s official site confirms the lyrics “rub all of that smooth skin.” I am therefore willing to declare the matter solved, and wish to hear no more of it. Thank you.
(*3) Or saltare?
(*3a) I can find no obvious Latin expression that implies “romantic courtship.” — ADDENDUM 10/14/03: Amores has been suggested, but that can also be used for purely sexual liaisons, which is clearly the goal here, and so not to be thus dismissed.
(*4)All right, how would you say “got it goin’ like a Turbo ‘Vette”? And what exactly is “goin'” here? I have chosen to understand that the unnamed woman’s extraordinary callipygy has inspired a primal response in the narrator, rather than that she “has got it goin’ on,” i.e., that she “is all that” — although the later lines (not included here) concerning Fonda’s Honda and the speaker’s anaconda can, ultimately, be invoked in support of either interpretation. — ADDENDUM 10/24/03: I have heard from several readers that the music video suggests that this line should rather be interpreted along the lines of “she shakes her posterior most vigorously.”
(*5) Or uberiores? Although that’s perhaps better reserved for a different fetish.
(*6) This line is not as succinct as the original, to be sure. — ADDENDUM 10/24/03: I wish I’d said puella here, as domina suggests a power relationship different from the English original.
Part two footnote:
[*] Oh, come on. I had no more idea how to translate “[She's] got it goin’ on” than did the original translator. As, however, the text did not give me the opportunity to sidestep the issue, I’ve chosen the vaguest noun and verb Latin has to offer, in hopes of capturing the spirit of the original.
[via, with much guffawing, Occidentalis]