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There is one quote by Victor Klemperer that reads:

But there is no vox populi, only voci populi.

which seems to be a bit puzzling.

On a wiki-talk page the translation speculation runs with the possibility derived from machine translation that both form (vox/voci) might be regarded as synonyms?

But analyzing the vocabulary and grammar shows that voci is the 3rd person dative singular for 'voice'. And that these two forms of vox (that entry lists Italian etymologies, but Klemperer wrote mainly in German; so any play of words might use any of the three languages, especially since this should most probably be read as 'written under fascism'?) might shift the 'joke' from 'voice' to sth like 'order'/'command'?

So, this quote is some form of word play? And if it would have to be read as 'strictly Latin throughout' (is it?), then how to translate that?

But what exactly is Klemperer 'voicing' here?

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  • The third comment under the Wiki explains it, as TKR did below. It's just a mistake in the translation.
    – cmw
    Jan 18 at 5:15

1 Answer 1

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It's a mistake in the English translation.

As Adam Bishop in the Wiki discussion you link to says, the quote in German is Aber es gibt keine vox populi, sondern nur voces populi "But there is no voice of the people, only voices of the people" -- with voces as the correct nominative plural form. For some reason, the English translator decided to incorrect Klemperer's Latin.

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    +1. There's hardly a language crime worse than foolishly hypercorrecting Latin plurals.
    – cmw
    Jan 18 at 2:19
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    @LаngLаngС If you read it carefully, you'll see that that book makes the same mistake: "it can only be ascertained in retrospect which of these various voices is the true one." I.e. which of the voci is the true vox. But the real plural of vox is voces, not voci. Not all Latin plurals end in -i.
    – cmw
    Jan 18 at 6:21
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    You only see 5 results with voce populi. But you'll see the right version (in many, many books) with voces populi.
    – cmw
    Jan 18 at 6:23
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    @cmw "Eh, this Klemperer person is only" (checks notes) "professor of Romance languages, I'll make sure to double check his Latin when translating his book" (checks notes) "Lingua Tertii Imperii." Jan 18 at 11:07
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    @cmw Ehhhhhhh... octopi is a weird case, since it’s fundamentally a Swede’s coinage of a novel Latin word based on Greek. But octopi is at least as good as octopodes, really, since the singular of octopodes ought to be octopous if this were really taken straight from Greek, and the actual word Romans used, polypus, was 2nd-declension and had polypi as the plural. Linnaeus himself used octopodes (alongside polypi), but other authors used octopi almost immediately (likely because they were familiar with polypi).
    – KRyan
    Jan 18 at 16:09

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