I'm thinking of titling something "almost human", and in this case the subject would be a person (although as a title of a work I am totally fine with this being applicable to more than just a person).

What would be good adverb and adjective combinations for this, and do I need to include the verb? As an English title the verb isn't really needed since it's implied, and I assume this is also fine in Latin.

Some possible examples:

Fere Humanus

Quasi Humanus

For further context, I've been in a Philip K. Dick frame of mind lately regarding artificial intelligence and what it means to be human. Watching the adaptation of Foundation for TV has also stirred these concepts as well.

1 Answer 1


All three work. I would also recommend paene. Compare Cicero's "paene amicus" in one of his letters:

eo die acerbum habuimus Curionem, Bibulum multo iustiorem, paene etiam amicum.

On that day we thought that Curio was bitter, but Biblulus was more just by far, even almost friendly.

Humanus fits best for "human", yielding the phrase:

Paene humanus [videtur].

There's nothing wrong with fere or quasi. The former is a close synonym for paene, but, as Lewis and Short note, connotes "approaching" the goal. So if someone were to make a humanoid almost human (close but no cigar), fere would be good. But the idea behind it would suggest (though not mandate) that we intended it to be human (or as close as we could get to it).

Paene, on the other hand, is good for "resembling but not quite the same," as if we discovered a human-like alien species. In this case, Bibulus' actions were almost friendly, but stopped just short. But there was no attempt on his part to actually be friendly. It was just as he did. I think paene works in this case, as we don't necessarily intend for AI to be human, just function similarly. What often ends up happening is that it looks "human, all too human," giving a sense of the uncanny.

Fun fact, paene in English comes to us in a few words, most notably peninsula, which is something is almost an island (paene insula), but not quite because of the isthmus. So this AI you have in mind is almost a human, but not quite because it's something different.

Quasi often has an imitative force to it, but by no means always. Like paene, it can also mean "resembling but not quite the same." In Pliny's infamous letter to Trajan about the Christians, he says that they worship to Christ "quasi deo" ("as if to a god").

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