Everyday Latin

“Fancy a grown man saying hujus hujus hujus as if he were proud of it it is not english and do not make SENSE.”

“I observe from the work of this class that the Gauls hav atacked the camp with shouts they hav frightened the citizens they hav killed the enemy with darts and arows and blamed the belgians. They hav also continued to march into Italy. Would it not be more interesting if they did something new?”

Geoffrey Willans, How To Be Topp, 1958
(yes, the quoted text is typed correctly)


Accurate translations

Sic friatur crustum dulce
That’s the way the cookie crumbles
Ecce! Fabae suaves!
Look! Jelly beans!
Die dulce fruere
Have a nice day
Eamus, O tibialia rubentia!
Let’s go, Red Sox!
Vestimentum laxum paululum videtur
This suit looks a little baggy.
Nullam ultravisionem spectabis per septum dies!
No TV for a week!
Alas gallinaceas de urbe bovis volo.
I want the Buffalo chicken wings.
Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert.
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
In dentibus anticis frustum magnum spiniciae habes.
You have a big piece of spinach in your front teeth.
Braccae tuae aperiuntur.
Your fly is open.

From a theatre company

The Belfry Theatre in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada included this in a fundraising letter:

Meum est propisitum in taberna mori
I wish to end my days in a tavern drinking.

Less accurate translations

  • Bona fide: good dog
  • Tutti frutti: baked beans
  • Magnum opus: big Irish cat
  • Carpe diem: fish frying tonight
  • Post meridiem: the mail arrives at noon
  • Rara avis: no car rental available
  • Sub rosa: a rather unattractive Italian girl
  • Gloria in excelsis: a very attractive Italian girl
  • Noli me tangere: I do not wish to dance
  • In loco parentis: railway family compartment

… with thanks to Shakib Otaqui and to Punch magazine’s Latin Tourist Phrase Book, 1979.

Even less accurate

Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper asked readers to add a letter to a familiar non-English expression to give it a new meaning. Some used Latin:

  • Squid pro quo – Who ordered the calamari?
  • Bad lib – Something you regret having improvised
  • Lad infinitum – Peter Pan
  • Sine qua neon – Nothing if not flashy
  • Semper fidelist – long-time Castro supporter

Insults

  • Insipiens: Witless wonder!
  • Lingua factiosi, inertes opera: All talk and no action.
  • Tu urbanus vero scurra: You are the village idiot!
  • Odiosus mihis: You’re just a bad smell, as far as I’m concerned.

These are from How to Insult, Abuse and Insinuate in Classical Latin, by Michelle Lovric and Nikiforos Doxiadis Mardas, published by Random House in 1998 and cited in the Pith & Vinegar newsletter.


More good ones

These used to appear at www.biopsych.net but are no longer there. They were listed as public domain, so here are some of them:

Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum.
A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.
Solum potestis prohibere ignes silvarum.
Only you can prevent forest fires.
Si non confectus, non reficiat
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (Latin version used as family motto of Terry Pratchett’s Lord Vetinari)
Fac ut gaudeam.
Make my day.
Si hoc signum legere potes, operis boni in rebus Latinus alacribus et fructuosis potiri potes!
If you can read this sign, you can get a good job in the fast-paced, high-paying world of Latin!
Ad eundum quo nemo ante iit.
To boldly go where no man has gone before.
Sit vis nobiscum.
May the force be with you.
Spero nos familiares mansuros.
I hope we’ll still be friends.
Mellita, domi adsum.
Honey, I’m home.
Fac me cocleario vomere!
Gag me with a spoon!
Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem!
Stand aside plebeians! I am on imperial business.
Sic faciunt omnes.
Everyone is doing it.
Vescere bracis meis.
Eat my shorts.
Di! Ecce hora! Uxor mea me necabit!
God, look at the time! My wife will kill me!

Latin calculator

XXV times IV? Nothing to it with this handy tool.


Books for keeners

You may be interested in two translations by Alexander Lenard of A.A. Milne’s "Winnie the Pooh" books.

  • Winnie Ille Pu (Winnie the Pooh)
  • Winnie Ille Pu Semper Ludet (House at Pooh Corner)

Green Eggs and Ham

The Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs and Ham” has been rendered into Latin by Terence and Jennifer Tunberg, husband and wife professors in the Department of Classical Languages at the University of Kentucky. It’s available from Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc. as “Virent Ova! Viret Perna!!” Barnes & Noble has it, but Chapters and Amazon don’t seem to as of Sept. 2003.

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am” comes out as “Sum ‘Pincerna’ nominatus, Famulari … nunc paratus!”


Translation, Dictionaries etc.


The News

Want the news in Latin? This Finnish site has it. In September 2011, the first headline was, “Familia Gaddafiana in Algeria,” which is not so hard. The rest of the site is, alas, in Finnish.

Rock and Roll goes Latin

Iin 1995 Finnish literature professor Jukka Ammondt recorded an album of Elvis songs sung in Latin. It includes Nunc Hic Aut Numquam (“It’s Now or Never”), Non Adamare Non Possum (“Can’t Help Falling in Love”), Cor Ligneum (“Wooden Heart”), and Tenere Me Ama (“Love Me Tender”). You might ask, “Why?” and your answer is at the bottom of this page.