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I've recently started on developing my own gaming project. Some of the words, proper nouns in particular, are planned to get translated into medieval Latin. The problem is that I'm not native speaker of the language, and Google Translator or any other kinds of translators can't be really trusted. I've even tried to understand the way "Lewis and Short" dictionary works, but sadly there is no way to translate phrases, only words separately, without case endings or consideration of gender.

I had few attempts on translating the sentence using different translators. The result I got was "Malum Grandis". But I'm pretty sure that it was translated wrongly. So that is why I'm here, to ask for a professional help.

2 Answers 2

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It's great that you were keyed in to gender and endings, as so many who aren't sensitive to them from their own language miss that. And sure enough, for grandis, you would need to make it neuter: grande malum, a perfectly fine phrase that is attested in Classical Latin.

Another way would be to use magnum (think "Pompey the Great" = Pompeius Magnus), and sure enough magnum malum is really common as well.

You should be aware though that malum can also be "a bad thing," and that "evil" in English used to be synonymous with "bad", but has a more sinister tone to it. While I think a Roman writer wouldn't have batted an eye at magnum malum, for your game, you may want to consider something else.

One way to do that is to turning magnum or grande into a superlative: maximum malum (or grandissimum malum, but with a heavy preference on the former for all sorts of reasons).

You could also choose a different word for evil. In particular, you have scelus (wickedness, crime, evil deed), which could work, or nefas, which is more classical than Medieval, I believe.

Both are nouns properly and are neuter, so you wouldn't need to change the accompanying adjectives.

However, if this "great evil" is a person, you might have to opt for Malus (masc.) or Mala (fem.), and the endings for the adjectives would be changed to -us and -a for magn-, maxim- or -is for grand-, respectively.

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  • Thanks a lot for replying! I feel much more confident now so that I know that "Grande Malum" is the way to go. But I want to know aswell how "Unspeakable Evil" could get translated into Medieval Latin, as it may sound a bit better in the context. Dec 9, 2022 at 18:17
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    @Zomblad You might want to go with the nefas option (like magnum nefas), since nefas is etymologically "unspeakable." That said, I'm not overly familiar with Medieval literature, so I don't know how well that word is represented there. I can take a look sometime later on that.
    – cmw
    Dec 9, 2022 at 18:22
  • I see. Thank you. It was really helpful! Dec 9, 2022 at 20:53
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    @cmw Infandum malum perhaps? It does not seem to be a particularly common medieval expression, though. Dec 9, 2022 at 22:22
  • @SebastianKoppehel I don't know how common that is in medieval Latin, but Seneca has it, so presumably it wasn't unknown. It's certainly a good suggestion for "unspeakable evil".
    – cmw
    Dec 10, 2022 at 3:32
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The Vulgata at Ieremias 32:42-44 has grande malum (in accusative, but for the neuter the nominative is the same). Many English translations translate that in great evil (e.g., King James).

The whole sentence is:

> Quia haec dicit Dominus: 
Sicut adduxi super populum istum omne malum hoc grande, 
sic adducam super eos omne bonum quod ego loquor ad eos.

The nominative neuter is either grande malum or malum grande, the former feels more medieval.

The malum grandis you found feels incorrect.

This is a full table of declensions:

Number Singular Singular Singular Plural Plural Plural
Case / Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative Grandis Malus Grandis Mala Grande Malum Grandes Mali Grandes Malae Grandia Mala
Genitive Grandis Mali Grandis Malae Grandis Mali Grandium Malorum Grandium Malarum Grandium Malorum
Dative Grandi Malo Grandi Malae Grandi Malo Grandibus Malis Grandibus Malis Grandibus Malis
Accusative Grandem Malum Grandem Malam Grande Malum Grandes Malos
Grandis Malos
Grandes Malas
Grandis Malas
Grandia Mala
Ablative Grandi Malo Grandi Mala Grandi Malo Grandibus Malis Grandibus Malis Grandibus Malis
Vocative Grandis Male Grandis Mala Grande Malum Grandes Mali Grandes Malae Grandia Mala
Locative Grandi Malo Grandi Mala Grandi Malo Grandibus Malis Grandibus Malis Grandibus Malis
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    Malum is a noun in this case (a substantivised adjective), you can't freely change its gender like that; if it were an adjective still, grande would have to be an adverb to modify it.
    – Cairnarvon
    Dec 12, 2022 at 12:42

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