Latin Quotes, Sayings, Tattoos, Phrases & Mottos

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.


"Latin" inscription on a dog bowl

 
Sunday, February 17, 2013, 12:39 - Bad Latin Quote Alerts
Posted by Administrator


Bought this the other day without looking too closely. Nice fleur-de-lis bowl. Imagine my surprise when I realized that this object proudly displays a small heraldic achievement with this motto: Diligo meus canis - Love my dog - Diligo meus canis. If you know any Latin at all you should notice two glaring grammatical errors. Meus and canis are taken in their standard dictionary forms, as is diligo, but the gods of Latin smiled upon the creators of the bowl, because the dictionary form for verbs just happens to be grammatically correct in this context... Diligo meum canem would be much better. As ridiculous as Google Translate is, it would have produced a much more acceptable result.

Medical Latin gone awry

 
Monday, June 20, 2011, 12:41 - Bad Latin Quote Alerts
Posted by Administrator


As I was sifting through some modern materials about the Salem witchcraft trials I stumbled upon a curious term which came up in one of the physical examination accounts. Apparently, Elizabeth Procter suffered from a condition described as procedeulia ani." Sounds like a very bad thing to suffer from, especially because, according to my Internet research, she was the only person ever to have this condition! You will find this "procedeulia" mentioned in many a book concerning the Salem trials, and future scholars will undoubtedly attempt to use the term in their books. Why not? Sounds very learned! The problem is, of course, that when in the 19th century all the records pertaining to the Salem Witchcraft trials were transcribed, this particular word fell victim to the transcriber's poor knowledge of Latin. The term used in the original documents must have been procedentia ani (more often seen as procidentia ani), which basically means rectal prolapse. You can look it up, if you will. For now, a fragment of "Examination of a Witch" by Thompkins H. Matteson shall suffice as an illustration of examination practices used by Puritan doctors and ministers. It is certainly my hope that future Salem witchcraft trials researchers will show some curiosity and not merely copy stuff from old books.

See also:
Medical Latin terms and phrases

Toyota Prius goes plural and goes wrong?

 
Saturday, February 12, 2011, 13:53 - Bad Latin Quote Alerts, Latin Language
Posted by Administrator


Toyota has people voting on the plural form of Prius.

The options include prius, priuses, prii, prium and prien. Sic!, Sic! and Sic!

Oddly, the actual correct Latin masc. and fem. plural for prius - priores is not even in the running!

Shouldn't corporate hijacking of Latin grammar cause some sort of public outrage?

Latin quote from 'Braveheart': Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium, sed ego sum homo indomitus

 
Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 15:53 - Bad Latin Quote Alerts, Latin Translation
Posted by Administrator
Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium, sed ego sum homo indomitus
Supposed to mean "I never tell a lie, but I am a savage."

I have seen Braveheart only once a long time ago, so I have no idea at what point in the movie this phrase comes up and in what context. It does, however, seem to be not so good Latin. Which is a shame, because there is no doubt that some people found this quote appealing and as a result chose to feature it on their skin (off all places!).

Some reasons that should make it clear why the Latin is substandard.

1. Pronunciare is an infinitive. Why the infinitive was chosen is beyond me, especially because a standard form found in Latin dictionaries (pronuncio, 1st sing, Present Active) would have looked a lot more plausible. There is no reason here for Historic Infinitive and I just cannot think of any other explanation other that someone's attempt to translate into Latin something like "I am not to tell lies."

2. Nowhere in Latin literature, both Classical and Medieval, the words pronuncio mendacium can be found. This expression simply was never used by anyone, even though it is quite understandable to anyone who spent some time learning Latin.

3. Nowhere in Latin literature the words "homo indomitus" can be found. This is clearly a made-up way of locution that has no precedents.

4. The word order in the second half of the quote seems unnatural. The "Ego" is also quite redundant.

This post is a part of my "bad Latin quote alert" efforts. Unless you find confirmation from a Latinist much better than yours truly, please only use the quote in question with full knowledge of its erroneous nature.


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