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I was thinking about expanding our help page in Latin, and I realized I don't know a good expression for "user account" in Latin. A "user" can be reasonably translated as usor, but "account" is harder. The words that I have found (ratio, computum, codex) seem to miss the point and are prone to misunderstandings. Is there a good expression for "account" or "user account" in Latin that is easy to understand and preferably already in use? My best guess now is logarion usoris, but I doubt that is recognized widely enough to be useful.

  • What a fascinating question! I suspect that the Latinate answer is to do something verbal or participial — res gestæ usóre or something like that. – Joel Derfner Apr 18 '16 at 14:44
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After searching for classical words that were used to similar effect, I have two suggestions for the word account: breviarium and summarium.

My preference is for breviarium, which means "a summary, abridgment, abstract, epitome" and which, when combined with rationum, means "statistical view". Here are some example usages:

Commentarios, quos desideras, diligenter ordinatos et in angustum coactos ego vero conponam. Sed vide, ne plus profutura sit ratio ordinaria quam haec, quae nunc vulgo breviarium dicitur, olim cum latine loquerentur, summarium vocabatur. Illa res discenti magis necessaria est, haec scienti. Illa enim docet, haec admonet. Sed utriusque rei tibi copiam faciam. (Sen. Ep. 39.1)

(This is my reason for also suggesting summarium, which means the same thing but--at least for Seneca--represents purer Latin.)

illa quoque uerene an falso per ludibrium iactabantur, adposita lautiore cena ingemuisse eum, et ordinario quidem dispensatori breuiarium rationum offerenti paropsidem leguminis pro sedulitate ac diligentia porrexisse (Suet. Galb. 12)

Translation:

The following ridiculous stories were also related of him; but whether with or without foundation, I know not; such as, that when a more sumptuous entertainment than usual was served up, he fetched a deep groan; that when one of the stewards presented him with an account of his expenses, he reached for a dish of legumes from his table as a reward for his care and diligence

As for "user", I cannot find even a neo-Latin usage of the term usor, which strikes me as awkward. (though I did find one for interretiarius for "internet user", but that's contrived and long.) Why not simply use usus ?

My suggestion would therefore be:

Usus Breviarium

  • Thanks! Breviarium (or summarium) sounds good. However, I would prefer to have some noun for "user". It's a bit too complicated to speak about a user signing in, getting reputation, gaining privileges and so forth (and to relate these things to the corresponding English expressions) without such a word. Interretiarius is not related to a specific site, so it's misleading. Perhaps membrum or particeps would be better. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 19 '16 at 14:20
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    Or perhaps sodalis? – Joel Derfner Apr 19 '16 at 15:41
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    Why not use the present participle utens substantively? I would recommend breviarium utentis 'user account, lit. user's summary', whose plural would be breviaria utentium. 'users' summaries'. – Anonym Apr 26 '16 at 4:16
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What about tabula sodalis or tabula sodalicia (with an understood rationum or rerum gestarum)?

I offer as support Cicero, Pro Quinto Roscio. Yonge's translation uses "account" very literally in some places here, but in other places he uses "books" and I think an extension of the metaphor isn't inappropriate.

Is scilicet vir optimus et singulari fide praeditus in suo iudicio suis tabulis testibus uti conatur. Solent fere dicere qui per tabulas hominis honesti pecuniam expensam tulerunt: 'egone talem virum corrumpere potui, ut mea causa falsum in codicem referret?' Exspecto quam mox Chaerea hac oratione utatur: 'egone hanc manum plenam perfidiae et hos digitos meos impellere potui ut falsum perscriberent nomen?' Quod si ille suas proferet tabulas, proferet suas quoque Roscius.

Erit in illius tabulis hoc nomen, at huius non erit. Cur potius illius quam huius credetur? Scripsisset ille, si non iussu huius expensum tulisset? Non scripsisset hic quod sibi expensum ferre iussisset? Nam quem ad modum turpe est scribere quod non debeatur, sic improbum est non referre quod debeas. Aeque enim tabulae condemnantur eius qui verum non rettulit et eius qui falsum perscripsit. Sed ego copia et facultate causae confisus vide quo progrediar. Si tabulas C. Fannius accepti et expensi profert suas in suam rem suo arbitratu scriptas, quo minus secundum illum iudicetis non recuso.

Yonge's version, supplemented by Loeb:

He, forsooth, excellent man, and of singular integrity, endeavours in his own cause to bring forward his account-books as witnesses. Those who desire to prove the payment of a sum of money by the account-books of an honorable man are accustomed to say.... Did I endeavour to corrupt such a man as that, so as to induce him to make a false entrance for my sake? I am waiting till Chaerea uses this argument. Was I able to induce this hand to be full of falsehood, and these fingers to make a false entry? But if he produces his accounts, Roscius will also produce his.

These words will appear in the books of the one, but not in those of the other. Why should you trust one rather than the other? Oh, would he ever have written it if he had not borne this expense by his authority? No, says the other, would he not have written it if he had given the authority? For just as it is discreditable to put down what is not owed, so it is dishonest not to put down what you do owe. For his accounts are just as much condemned who omits to make an entry of the truth, as his who puts down what is false. But see now to what, relying on the abundance and cogency of my arguments, I am now coming. If Caius Fannius produces in his own behalf his accounts of money received and paid, written at his own pleasure, I do not object to your giving your decision in his favour.

  • Tabula and sodalis are excellent ideas, thanks! The word sodalis also conveys an idea of friendliness and togetherness. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 19 '16 at 17:48
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Right—there's a connotation of membership in a community, which even if it's not the case on every website is certainly a feeling we want to encourage here. – Joel Derfner Apr 19 '16 at 17:53
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Tabula is good, but ratio is better usage. Accounts, of course, come from banking language, and ratio is one of the most natural ways to express such a term in Latin:

  1. Relation, reference, respect to a thing: “(agricolae) habent rationem cum terrā, quae nunquam recusat imperium,” have an account, have to do, have dealings with the earth, Cic. Sen. 15, 51; cf.: “ubi ratio cum Orco habetur,” Varr. R. R. 1, 4, 3; “for which: ubi sit cum Orco ratio ponenda,” Col. 1, 3, 2: “cum omnibus Musis rationem habere cogito,” Cic. Att. 2, 5, 2: “cum hac (muliere) aliquid adulescentem hominem habuisse rationis,” id. Cael. 20, 50; cf. Cic. Verr. 2, 2, 77, § 190. omnes, quibuscum ratio huic aut est aut fuit, assunt, defendunt, id. Quint. 23, 75; cf.“. quae ratio tibi cum eo intercesserat?” id. Rosc. Com. 14, 41: “pacis vero quae potest esse cum eo ratio, in quo est incredibilis crudelitas, fides nulla?” id. Phil. 4, 6, 14: “quod si habenda cum M. Antonii latrocinio pacis ratio fuit, etc.,” id. ib. 12, 7, 17: “fontes ad nostrorum annalium rationem veteres, ad ipsorum sane recentes,” in respect to our annals, id. Brut. 13, 49.—

Even "accountant" is related:

“A RATIONIBVS,” an accountant, Inscr. Orell. 1494; 2973; 2986; 4173 et saep. (cf. ab).

And like the English, both are used without appearing odd.

My main issue with tabula is that its use is metonymy for ratio. That doesn't make it bad, but it does make it less than ideal for any sort of official translation.

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    My problem with ratio as a translation is that its range of meanings is ridiculously broad: the first thing it makes me think of is "reason" (the human faculty). ratio sodalis would only make sense to me with a lot of context. – brianpck Apr 21 '16 at 1:50
  • @brianpck Doesn't the English account mean the do the same thing? An account could be something like what the OP wants, or a record of expenses/credits (a sales account), an "arrangement by which a body holds funds on behalf of a client" (bank account), a recollection of events (his account of the experience, Herodotus' account of Xerxes' invasion), or even just importance/significance (It was of no account that). Many Latin words have ridiculously broad meanings, that doesn't mean that they can't be used in precise ways as well. – C. M. Weimer Apr 21 '16 at 2:14
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    So you're saying that tabula is, at least in this case, short for tabula rationis (or rationum)? – Joel Derfner Apr 21 '16 at 4:32

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