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How do I address an email in Latin to my Latin professor? How is the greeting supposed to look?

  • 1
    Hello, and welcome to the site! Generally, when asking a translation question, you should provide at least an attempt of doing it yourself, even if you plug it into Google translate. – Sam K Oct 8 '17 at 2:40
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Roman letters often included the name of both sender and recipient in the greeting. Take, for example, Cicero's letters to Atticus.

Epistula 1.1
Scr. Romae m. Quint. a. 689 (65).
CICERO ATTICO salutem

Epistula 14.5
Scr. Asturae it Id. Apr. a. 710 (44).
CICERO ATTICO S. D.

Epistula 14.14
Scr. in Cumano a. d. v K. Mai. a. 710 (44).
CICERO ATTICO S. D.

The first line tells when and where the letter was written. The second line invariably includes the phrase CICERO ATTICO, which means, Cicero to Atticus. In the first, he uses the word "salutem", often abbreviated to "sal." In the next two, he uses the abbreviation S.D. ("salutem dicit").

In each case, the intended meaning is the same. "Cicero sends greetings to Atticus," or in Latin, "Cicero Attico salutem dicit." Abbreviations were common in Roman letters and you often find S.D., sal., S.P.D., or SVBEEV, among others.

You might want to consider using such a greeting. One problem is that you don't have Latin names. There might be some workarounds, however. Below are some possibilities, using the names Aaron and Mr. Shaw as examples.

AARON MAGISTRO S.D.

AARON MAGISTRO SAL.

AARON MAGISTRO SHAW S.P.D.

AARON MAGISTRO salutem

I personally think the format AARON MAGISTRO looks best. Including the last name of the professor, as in AARON MAGISTRO SHAW, looks awkward. But that is just my taste. Sam's suggestion is also a good one.

The professor might be impressed, and pleasantly surprised, if he opens an email titled

(Your name here) MAGISTRO S.D.

4

In his letters to Emperor Trajan, Pliny the Younger used the salutation

Gaius Plinius Traiano Imperatori

putting the sender (himself) in the nominative, and the recipient (Traianus) in the dative.

This is kind of impersonal and formal (and I would not advise calling your professor Imperator unless you're really trying to brown-nose). Interestingly enough, in Trajan's replies he's a bit less formal:

Traianus Plinio

Jerome's translation of Paul's Epistula ad Thessalonicenses Prima opens

Paulus, et Silvanus, et Timotheus ecclesiae Thessalonicensium in Deo Patre, et Domino Jesu Christo. Gratia vobis, et pax. (1 Thes. 1-2)

For an email to a professor, though (and a non-inspired work), you don't need to be quite that fancy. I personally would use something like

Joe Johnson Magistro Smith, salve.

4

In addition to ktm5124's excellent answer, the first line after the salutation could read

SVBEEV.

This stands for Sī valēs, bene est; ego valeō, which is essentially Latin for "How are you? I am fine."

For the closing (after which you don't need to write your name, since you've already included it in the salutation) there are several options, many of which depend on how well you know the professor; the safest one is probably

Cūrā ut valeās.

Good luck with whatever you're asking him/her!

3

So, I will compile two pieces of my personal experience here to provide an answer. First off, whenever write emails to my teachers, I generally do so in the following manner:

Hello, Mr./Mrs./Ms. X!

This is the message body.

Sam K

This format is formal enough for addressing a teacher, but informal enough to sound friendly and approachable. (I therefore would not recommend this format exactly for other people, but that's another subject.)

Typically in Latin class, one addresses your teacher as Magister/Magistra. In your case, the previous might still be applicable, but Professor/Profestrix may work here as well. It depends on what they call themselves in class. Again, the typical Latin greeting in my experience with my various teachers has been Salve! This yields the following:

Salve, Magister/Magistra/Professor/Profestrix X!

Hic coporis nuntius est.

Samuelis C


This answer is very subjective of course, but it makes sense in modern terms. One could try to adapt a classical letter, of which there are many examples, but that is not what I chose to do.

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