8

I would like to have the phrase "NN and NN — dangerous together" inscribed in a ring in Latin. Google Translate suggests periculosum simul and simul ancipitia, but I'm not sure if they make any sense. I would prefer to keep the original structure of the phrase, so I just want a translation of "dangerous together" to be used in such a romantic context. What would be a good translation?

(Note: I received this translation request by email and asked it here to get more eyes on it than my own. This is why I also gave an answer myself.)

7

First, Google Translate is horrible with Latin, and doubt is wise. In matters of any importance I strongly suggest consulting a person who knows Latin, and this site is a good option for it.

Periculosum is just the adjective I would use for "dangerous", but the form is wrong. The best choice is periculosi; I will discuss options below.

I would read simul more as "at the same time" than "together". The most fitting adverb for "together" I can think of is una, but I would prefer to use a participle. My suggestion is coniuncti, which could be translated as "connected", "married" or "together". (Spelling variant: conjuncti.)

My complete translation suggestion is this with a rough translation:

NN et NN — periculosi coniuncti
NN and NN — dangerous when combined/married/together

I put both words periculosi and coniuncti in plural masculine nominative. Masculine is the correct choice if at least one of the two people is male. If both are female, then the words should be in feminine forms instead: periculosae and coniunctae.

One option to consider is to use all capital letters. It often works well with Latin inscriptions, but the choice is of course yours. If you do so, it is typical to replace every J with I and U with V (better leave the names as they are, though), so my alternative suggestion is:

NN ET NN — PERICVLOSI CONIVNCTI

  • 2
    Just a couple of thoughts. (i) Una means 'in unison', 'acting as one' and is a good choice here. (ii) In what sense is 'dangerous' intended? Adding water to concentrated sulphuric acid is dangerous (or perilous), but I suspect that the real intention might be 'threatening' which, if so, you could better express by minaces. – Tom Cotton Jun 14 '17 at 15:49
  • @TomCotton Good thoughts! For some reason I prefer a participle, but una is indeed a good choice. I don't know what sense of "dangerous" was intended. If it was more threatening that perilous, I agree that minaces is a better choice. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 14 '17 at 15:57
  • @C.M.Weimer For some reason I think "perilous" was indeed intended, but I don't really know. This is a problem with asking questions as a mediator. It would be good if someone could compare different words for "dangerous" in an answer and maybe give a suggestion. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 14 '17 at 16:55
5

Another possibility would be to interpret the phrase as a sentence:

[We are] dangerous together.

For reasons I can't quite formulate, I don't like the sound of so many nominatives together. It has the sound of "NN and NN are dangerous joined ones."

My suggestion would be to use a verb, such as comminor (="threaten"), which happens to go quite well with coniuncti:

NN et NN — coniuncti comminamur.

Another pleasing combination might be:

NN et NN — uniti urgemus.

(N.B. unio is a rare, post-Augustinian word, so it may not be suitable for this context.)

  • uniti ? Where did you find that? – Tom Cotton Jun 15 '17 at 13:08
  • 1
    Looks like it's post-Augustinian: unio – brianpck Jun 15 '17 at 13:36
  • Apuleius uses it once, though. – brianpck Jun 15 '17 at 13:41
3

Let me distinguish possible meanings of the original:

  • They are a danger:
    If they are dangerous as a couple, they are a dangerous union: NN et NN: iugum periculosum (Bonnie and Clyde? Or like two wild horses attached to a biga...)
    If they are separately dangerous, and might even be a danger to each other, then NN et NN: par periculosorum (a pair of dangerous people, or change to periculosarum if they both identify as female: par gladiatorum is attested, a pair of gladiators fighting with each other... but Cicero has also paria amicorum, couples of friends...)

  • They are in danger
    NN et NN: periclitantes iuncti (iunctae if appropriate). We get a very slight difference in emphasis reversing the word order. Periclitantes iuncti is somewhat concessive: even in danger, they stand together; iuncti periclitantes is somewhat final: they are together to face danger, (but this is probably too subjective to be proven outside context).

After NN et NN a nominative is practically obligatory: good Latin style wouldn’t tolerate an adverbial apposition like together in English. Iuncti is enough in this case: coniuncti reminds of coniuges and the English doesn’t say they are married.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.