I'm preparing invitations to my thesis defence and I thought writing the invitations in Latin (as a joke). However my Latin is very poor. A friend of mine helped me, but I doubt it is very good.

English original:

Francis kindly requests your company at the defence of his doctoral thesis, "Spectral tuning of light-sensitive proteins explained through electrostatic theory", on an undetermined date at the end of the year 2018, at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Saarstr. 21, followed by a cold buffet diner at the kitchen of the institute of theoretical physics. Examination committee & reviewers: ...

Proposed latin translation:

Franciscus orat vestra praesentia ad rigorosum ad thesis doctoralis "Accommodatio spectral ex luce absorbere proteinum explicavit per theoria electrostaticum" in dies incerto anno exeunte MMXVIII in Universitas Iohannes Gutenberg Moguntiacum, via saravus XXI, secuti per prandium in culina institutis physico theoretico. Examinatio curatio & arbitres: ...

I wonder how far we are from something correct and how it could be improved.

1 Answer 1


My suggestion:

Franciscus te/vos libenter invitat in dissertationem, in qua thesem suam nomine "Aptatio spectralis proteinorum lucipetorum theoria electrostatica explicata" defendet die inedita anno MMXVIII exeunte in Universitate Iohannis Gutenberg Moguntina, Saarstr. XXI, atque in merendam sequentem in culina instituti physicae theoreticae. Membra comitiae et existimatores sunt…


  • Choose te (singular) or vos (plural) depending on whether the invitation goes to an individual or more people.
  • I think libenter invitare ("to invite with pleasure") captures the idea of kindly requesting one's company but flows better than a more literal translation.
  • Dissertatio is the event in which thesis is defended. (Following your comments, it is possible to say in examen rigorosum, in quo thesem and so on. This makes sense in Latin, is easily recognizable in your locale, and leaves little room for misinterpretation, since the text says that a thesis is to be defended.)
  • Literal retranslation of the title: "Spectral adjustment of light-seeking proteins explained by electrostatic theory". It's not perfect.
  • Editus is a participle or adjective meaning (among other things) "announced", and ineditus is "not (yet) announced".
  • The adjective "of Mainz" or "Mainzian" seems to be Moguntinus. I am translating the university as "Johannes Gutenberg's Mainzian university". Like the Latin Wikipedia, I'm treating the last name as undeclinable.
  • I left the street name untranslated, as it is a proper name. If you want to translate it, you need an adjective related to the name Saravus. Something like via Saravia, but I'm not sure of the best choice.
  • I think merenda is a decent word for the kind of buffet after the event.
  • I reworded the structure: not "followed by a buffet" but "and the following buffet".
  • The end is "members of the committee and the evaluators are". I think existimator is a decent choice here, since I didn't want anything that sounds like a judge.

Let me know if I got something wrong or unclear.

If you want to continue with same seriousness through the defense itself, I have a recommendation from XKCD:

XKCD 1403

  • 1
    You use libenter invitare in your explanation but use libenter vocat in your quoted translation. Just figured I would point that out since I'm not sure which one you want.
    – Sam K
    Mar 29, 2018 at 21:13
  • @SamK I guess I wasn't sure either. I chose invitat now. Thanks for the catch!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 29, 2018 at 21:20
  • (1) Wonderful answer! I'm really really thankful! (2) The event in which thesis is defended (in my university) is called in german "Rigorosum" (which I thought is the latin name for it). Is it wrong to use it in Latin? (3) I still doesn't get the principle for the university name (mainly because Gutenberg doesn't decline)... Would for instance "at the Johannes Kepler University Linz" be in Universitate Iohannis Kepleriana Lentiae? (4) I definitely will do a thesis offence! Mar 30, 2018 at 9:49
  • 2
    @Kyle_the_hacker (1) I'm glad to be able to help! (2) I'm not familiar with that term. It clearly comes from Latin, so it should be fine, but it will not be understood as broadly as dissertatio. You can say in rigorosum, in quo if you want. (3) The name Iohannes Gutenberg is in genitive. It's like Universitas Iulii Caesaris Romana. Does that make sense? (4) In Finland we have a doctoral sword, but it is not available in a defense.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 30, 2018 at 14:10
  • 1
    @Kyle_the_hacker You could use examen rigorosum then. It makes perfect sense in Latin (especially when the text says that a thesis is defended in it) and it should be easy enough to recognize. The general Latin word for a defense (that I know) is dissertatio, but I'm not aware of a longer formulation of the kind you're asking. Figuring out a full Latin name for a defense would actually make a good follow-up question. If you are interested, go ahead and ask it!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 31, 2018 at 9:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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