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I will mark this question as because there are obviously not any precise classical equivalents of the titles implied by such English honorifics as Mr (Mister or Master), Mrs (Misses), or Miss.

This is somewhat related to another question about addressing superiors in Latin, but my question here is more practical: What is the best way of translating a sentence like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"?

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Daniel Morgan's lexicon, section 754, gives options for Mister and Misses, but not Miss.

  • Mister
    • dominus (or domine in direct address)
    • eques (as in English "sir," used before a name)
  • Misses / ma'am
    • domina (same for direct address)

The options for Mister are based on suitable words for "knight," and are attested as follows:

(SEN. Ep. 3, 1: "si ... sic illum amicum vocasti quo modo omnes candidatos 'bonos viros' dicimus, quomodo obvios, si nomen non succurrit, 'dominos' salutamus, hac abierit) | 1652 TURS. 417, listing members of Parliament Charles I of England attempted to arrest in 1642: "Eques Arthur Haselrig, Domini Pym et Hampden")

Morgan does not provide suitable abbreviations, unfortunately.

  • 2
    . "At the University of Cambridge, the honorific 'Domina' (abbreviated as Dna) is given to women who hold a Bachelor of Arts degree, but not a master's degree. From mea domina, "my lady," through French "madame," comes "madam", and the contracted form "ma'am." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominus_(title) – Ken Graham May 4 '16 at 23:05
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    @KenGraham Oh, nice find. Sounds like a good answer, especially if you can find a source better than WP. – Nathaniel is protesting May 4 '16 at 23:06
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In the notes to Superbia et Odium, his translation of Pride and Prejudice, Tom Cotton writes,

Latin has neither appropriate nouns nor convenient abbreviations (Mr, Mrs, etc) by which to indicate social status; to avoid the cumbersome repetition of Honestior, Matrona where Jane Austen has used the English abbreviations, I have devised the forms Hr and Mra. Elsewhere, I have adopted Hera, Domina, and Senior (Miss, Lady, Sir) to usages which are not strictly classical, but in which the meaning is unambiguous.

As I mentioned in a comment above, Terence Tunberg, who along with Milena Minkova runs the University of Kentucky Institute for Latin Studies, which (as far as I understand) uses Latin as its main language of spoken and written communication, uses Dominus for "Mr." and abbreviates it Dno. in the dative. If I learn more case abbreviations I'll update this answer.

  • Interesting...any idea why this version of Cotton's translation seems to use "Honestus", not "Hera"? – brianpck May 5 '16 at 16:52
  • As I understand it, the book version wasn't published until after he'd finished the online version, so one assumes that in between the two he decided that Honestior was better than Honestus, and also came up with the abbreviation Hr. (He uses Hera for "Miss," not for "Mister.") – Joel Derfner May 5 '16 at 21:44
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I have seen dominus used for "Mr" in some comics translated to Latin. Analogously I would use domina for "Mrs". I don't have a good suggestion for "Miss", though. Perhaps the diminutive dominula is better than virgo or puella.

Therefore I would translate "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" as Dominus Smith Vasitoniam it.

  • I recall seeing dominus as well--do you know if it is ever contracted, e.g. Dn.? – brianpck May 4 '16 at 16:33
  • @brianpck, I don't recall ever seeing it contracted. If the contraction should distinguish dominus and domina, perhaps D:us and D:a would be more likely than Dn. or D., but this is just a guess. – Joonas Ilmavirta May 4 '16 at 16:42
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    I recently got an email from Terence Tunberg, who runs the living Latin program at the University of Kentucky, that opened with "Terentius Dno. Derfner spd." So I'd say abbreviations are possible. – Joel Derfner May 5 '16 at 0:37

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