Latin Translation

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.

E pluribus Unum Controversy

Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 18:08 - Best Latin Quotes, Words of Wisdom, Proverbs and Sayings, Latin Translation
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E Pluribus Unum
One out of many

I learned about this story not too long ago:

"On a special Valentine's Day celebrity edition of the show, which aired three days before the actual Valentine's day, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Jackie Llewelyn-Bowen reached the 1,000,000 question, which was "Translated from the Latin, what is the official motto of the United States?" The Bowens chose answer A, "In God We Trust," but the correct answer was actually answer B, "One Out of Many," which is the English translation for the Latin E pluribus Unum. Because they answered the 1,000,000 question incorrectly, they lost 468,000. However, the question turned out to be ambiguous, as "In God We Trust" is the legal motto for the United States; the phrase is found on many American monetary coins. Because of this, they were invited back to play again, reinstating their previously-lost 468,000 to bring them back up to 500,000. The contestants decided not to risk it this time and left with the 500,000. The first million pound question was never aired, but the second million pound question was."

(From Wikipedia's article on the UK version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)

The interesting thing here is that the knowledge of the actual Latin phrase "E pluribus unum" was not required of the contestants! It suffices to know that a certain phrases is translated a certain way. It goes to say that whenever Classical education looses popularity the decline in game show intelligence is soon to follow

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Philosophic terminology in Latin

Sunday, February 8, 2009, 01:41 - Latin Translation, Latin Words - Meanings and Definitions, Philosophy
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I have published a first pass of a new word list: Philosophical terminology in Latin. It would is a nearly impossible task to come up with a comprehensive dictionary of Latin terms used in any particular setting. Philosophical Latin is highly technical and individual philosophers often adapted existing terms for their own needs. Still, it is my hope that this wordlist will be useful to someone just starting to read philosophic works in the original Latin. Most of these terms were used in medieval texts, because Ancient Rome never matched Greece as a center of philosophic studies. Roman philosophy was rather eclectic, even at its best (Lucretius, for example). This list of terms (over 500 entries!) generally only includes individual words and notions, leaving aside common sayings such as "Cogito ergo sum" etc. I am considering making a separate list of such phrases.

Philosophy: Latin terms with translations.

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
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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.

Translation of the Aeneid by C.S. Lewis

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 00:40 - Books, dictionaries and texts, Latin Translation, Poetry, Literature, Music
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A little rumor spreading here. I heard, on pretty good authority, that a verse translation of Virgil's Aeneid by C.S. Lewis is presently "in the hands" of a renowned Classicist. It is possible that the C.S. Lewis Foundation is going to publish it?

On a related note, C. S. Lewis once wrote about the Aeneid that no one "who has once read it with full perception remains an adolescent." Personally, I find this statement extremely profound and true.

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