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I'm wondering how someone would have said where they're from, sort of as a locational surname. To perhaps better explain, in English we might say, 'Hello, I'm Susan of London.' How would you say something like this in Latin?

Thank you for any and all help!

  • In addition to the dictionary source mentioned by Joonas, the Domesday book has even quite small English town names in Latin (and consequently a lot of American towns). – Hugh Jan 14 at 3:17
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In Latin this is best achieved via adjectives. For example, "Susan of London" would be Susanna Londiniensis. I based the adjective on the Latin name of London, Londinium. For a more modern version, you can go with Londoniensis, but I prefer the more classical one. (It's a matter of taste whether you want to Latinify the first name Susan to Susanna, but I often do if it's simple enough.)

For major cities of the ancient world these adjectives can be found in Latin dictionaries, and new adjectives can be derived. Adding -ensis is the simplest way to go; if you are unsure how to exactly derive this adjective from a certain city name, do ask a separate question!

Also, bear in mind that the adjective needs to be in the correct gender. Londiniensis looks the same in masculine and feminine, but for Rome you'd need to pick Romanus or Romana depending on the gender.

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    In medieval Latin, there is an additional option, "de" with the meaning of "from." E.g., Thomas de Londonia. Also, there's a typo in your answer. It should be Londoniensis. – Kingshorsey Jan 7 at 15:42
  • @Kingshorsey Interesting! I'm more of a classicist, and not familiar with de in that sense. That would make a nice answer. The typo is not a typo, in fact; I added an explanation why I used Londiniensis. I don't recall seeing Londoniensis, but I have come across the one with -i- in Vicipaedia and elsewhere. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 7 at 15:49
  • I suppose it's fair that a Roman of classical times would have used Londiniensis, but there are no surviving instances of that word, whereas there are many of Londoniensis. mlat.uzh.ch/MLS/… – Kingshorsey Jan 7 at 15:55
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    @JoonasIlmavirta: Assuming that a Classical phrase is desired, your answer with Londiniensis is, I think, absolutely correct. Only if one desires a mediaeval-type phrase should Londonia/Londoniensis be preferred, and only then could one use de Londonia. – varro Jan 7 at 21:36
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    @joonas ilmavirta Your wish is my command. – Tom Cotton Jan 8 at 15:35
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There's no more a fixed way of dealing with this in Latin than there is in English and, just as in English, much can be implied by your choice.

For example, you might say 'I'm a Londoner', or 'I'm from London'. The first case carries a certain nuance, that of being 'born and bred' in London itself, and in the proper context might indicate pride in the fact; the second is less definite, perhaps (but not necessarily) a shorthand for something like 'I live in (Greater) London'. Each expression is quite proper, and each might also be expressed as 'I come from London'. And you might also say 'I was born in London', 'I was born a Londoner', 'I was raised in London', or 'I live in London' — and so on.

Latin has two principal ways of forming place-related adjectives, using the endings -anus and -ensis. There's no hard-and-fast rule on which to use : though I have come across various attempts to be definite about it, I think it best to use whichever sounds best to the ear, or whichever appears more suitable to the circumstances. Sometimes, however, there is an established form : we are all familiar with romanus and possibly neapolitanus, but I've never seen romensis or neapolitensis. Equally we see hispaniensis but seldom hispanianus, though I doubt that it's possible to insist on a general rule -anus for towns and -ensis for cities.

If you want a different way of expressing yourself, then just as in English we have 'I was born in Rome', in Latin there is Romae natus sum; note that this differs from romanus natus sum ('I was born a Roman'), as does similarly the proud boast civis romanus sum of someone claiming the full rights of a Roman citizen (as did St. Paul, who most certainly wasn't from Rome). If you were a visitor to Rome from Marseille, you might claim not massiliensis sum but Massiliae ortus sum, 'I originate from Marseille'.

[Finally, you may notice some difficulties stemming from the endings of the original town-names, as in Joonas's answer with the comments in reference to Londinium. I think that both Londin(i)ensis and Londinianus, insofar as the intended meaning is clear, are acceptable. Neither, if seen in an authentic Latin text, would cause an eyebrow to be raised, while either might be selected at discretion for a translation into Latin.]

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    It's worth noting that -anus may not necessarily yield the desired meaning: Coriolanus did not come from Corioli, nor Scipio Africanus from Africa. – varro Jan 8 at 17:36
  • @varro Agnomina like these are of special origins and used rather differently. The origin of Africanus for Scipio is well known, but Coriolanus is surely open to debate — was he from Corioli, or was he especially victorious there? Opinions differ! Nevertheless, what you say is true. – Tom Cotton Jan 8 at 18:01

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