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Suppose there were a podiatry practice named Pes Integer Sit. How would you put this into a complete sentence?

Do you simply treat it as indeclinable? For example, would "I am going to Pes Integer Sit" be Eo Pes Integer Sit, or Ad Pes Integer Sit eo?

Similarly for a business whose name is a noun phrase in an oblique case. If the business were named Pedibus Sanis, would you have to avoid declining it, when, say, it was in a place in a sentence that called for the accusative or nominative case?

And if these are indeclinable, does that cause confusion?

If there is a custom for choosing the case of business names, please let me know. That might (happily) render the whole question moot.

  • The second question also arises in French, where names of the form Au Bon Pain (at/with the good bread) seem to be common. – Anton Sherwood Jul 18 '16 at 4:08
  • Are you asking about using Latin phrases in an English context or in a Latin context? – fdb Jul 18 '16 at 17:23
  • @fdb In a Latin context. – Ben Kovitz Jul 19 '16 at 3:06
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I don't think there is a custom for choosing the case of business names. I wish there was a custom for using grammatical Latin and actual Latin words in any case in business names…

If the name has a main word in nominative, then you can decline that as usual. For example, if it's called Institutum Pedibus Sanis, then you can decline Institutum normally. Your question is specifically not about this case, but sometimes it can help usage to add a dummy word like Institutum to the name even if it's not officially part of it.

An indeclinable Latin word of foreign origin can often be used in a simple sentence without much confusion. Prepositions make this particularly easy. It is important that the name be foreign; a declined Latin phrase is too easily misinterpreted to play a different grammatical role than it's supposed to. The risk for confusion is significant, and I would be careful in introducing the name.

Suppose the business is called Pes Integer Sit. When you mention it for the first time, I suggest saying or writing something like this:

Eo in institutum "Pes Integer Sit" appellatum.

After you have introduced the name and your audience should be able parse it as a name, you can use it more freely:

Pes Integer Sit quam iucundissimum erat!

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I think @JoonasIlmavirta's response is good, and I agree with it in part, but I'm thinking that I take the opposite view in part, which is that such names should be declined.

In institutum nomine "Pedes Integros Sit" eo.

After all, if you say "I'm going to visit Marcus," you decline the name:

Marcum visitatum eo.

But nobody would suggest that this means you thought has given name was "Marcum" rather than "Marcus."

Or, put another way, in English we would say "I'm going to Feet-B-Whole." If somebody said "I'm going Feet-B-Whole," we'd think it was wrong.

Ultimately there's no tradition that I know of—it's very possible that living Latinists are developing one; I'm about to spend another week with some, so I'll try to remember to ask—but in the meantime my vote is to decline.

  • I look forward to hearing what you hear from the other living Latinists! The comparison with English is an interesting line of thought. Suppose that a business was named I'm Fine. Would you say "I'm on the phone with someone from Me'm Fine"? That's how I understand declining the subject of a business name that is a Latin sentence, but I'm also thinking that grammatical inflection plays a much larger role in Latin, so maybe there's some other way to resolve this. Well, hopefully you'll hear about a precedent shortly! – Ben Kovitz Jul 19 '16 at 11:20
  • Actually, here's a possible source of precedent: how do you decline a Latin sentence when the sentence is itself the object of another sentence? For example, how do you say "People have remembered 'Veni, Vedi, Vici' for more than 2,000 years" in speech so that a listener doesn't get confused? – Ben Kovitz Jul 19 '16 at 11:23
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    Interesting—and of course now I want to open a business called Me'm Fine. Ultimately I feel like anything we come up with is going to be artificial (though maybe there's something to look at in late 19th/early 20th century Latin usage?). I suppose I'd render the sentence in your second comment, "Verborum 'Veni, vidi, vici' plus quam duo milia annorum memoratum est" but I feel like by the late 19th century people were saying things like that so you're probably right that there's precedent somewhere. – Joel Derfner Jul 19 '16 at 12:01
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    I'm afraid I have to disagree on In institutum nomine "Pedes Integros Sit" eo. The plural sounds weird, but even the singular Pedem Integrum Sit sounds very unnatural to me. I understand that this is a matter of taste, though. My opinion is probably influenced by what I'd do in Finnish where we have over a dozen cases. I actually had a hard time parsing your sentence because you declined the name. Also, I'm against declining, but strongly for prepositions; the analogy with "going Feet-B-Whole" doesn't seem to fully work. (If you open Me'm Fine, be prepared for the name becoming a meme.) – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 19 '16 at 13:39
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Yeah, I think "I'm going Feet-B-Whole" isn't the right analogy with English, because English uses a preposition for that: "I'm going to Feet-B-Whole". In Latin, a case marker alone can suffice: Eo Romam. But looking at how other languages handle this sounds like it ought to yield insight. How do you handle a business whose name is a sentence in Finnish? – Ben Kovitz Jul 19 '16 at 14:03

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