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73
votes
6answers
27k views

What is Google Translate good for?

Google Translate is notoriously unreliable for Latin. However, the translations do make some amount of sense. Is there some kind of translation task involving Latin that Google Translate is relatively ...
55
votes
5answers
6k views

Are “-que” and “et” equivalent?

I was taught that one can use the '-que' suffix to string together multiple words, in a similar way to putting 'et' between them. Are these two equivalent? Did one have a connotation in classical (...
47
votes
3answers
15k views

Why is the language of ancient Rome called “Latin” instead of “Roman”?

Nearly every human language is named after the people who spoke it, from ancient Egyptian, Hebrew and Greek, to modern tongues such as English, German and Chinese. And then we have the language of the ...
45
votes
6answers
25k views

Why is the Roman acronym SPQR and not SPR?

SPQR stands for "Senātus Populusque Rōmānus". It would be logical (at least in English or Spanish) to expect the initialism or acronym to be SPR. However, the first letter of the conjunction "-que" is ...
42
votes
4answers
13k views

What punctuation was used in Classical Latin?

Many Classical Latin textbooks typeset their texts with (small and capital letters and) a broad selection of punctuation, like period ., comma ,, colon :, semicolon ;, exclamation mark !, question ...
42
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is “ille” used in Winnie ille Pu and Hobbitus Ille?

I learned early on that Latin has no articles. So why is it, then, that Winnie the Pooh and The Hobbit are translated Winnie ille Pu and Hobbitus Ille? Wouldn't it be more correct to not translate ...
40
votes
17answers
13k views

Which online Latin dictionaries should I use and why?

What good online Latin dictionaries do you know? What are their benefits and drawbacks? Please give only one dictionary per answer. If you have many dictionaries to suggest, give multiple answers &...
36
votes
4answers
1k views

Accusative equals nominative for neuter words – how universal is this and why?

The first mnemonic for Latin case ending I learnt was that for neuter words, the accusative form is always identical to the nominative form. This applies even to exotic word endings like animal or id, ...
35
votes
1answer
8k views

Did the Romans use any swear words?

I was reading the book Lingua Latina, Per Se Illustrata by Hans H. Ørberg, and I often saw scenes in which persons were angry. In the book, the writer doesn't use any swear words or anything to that ...
34
votes
3answers
7k views

How do we know how the Romans pronounced Latin?

A quick Google Search says plenty of things about Roman Latin pronunciation, and since it's an edu domain I'm inclined to believe it. However, the closest to citing a source it gets is saying "we know ...
33
votes
4answers
3k views

What effect should a macron have on the sound of a letter and its word?

Latin makes use of macrons (small lines above letters) to indicate a different pronunciation for that letter. Exactly what should the macron indicate about the pronunciation of the letter? Does the ...
32
votes
2answers
605 views

What gender should a predicate adjective be to agree with a series of things with different genders?

I'd like the translate the following sentence into Latin: Pompeii, Rome, and Herculaneum are visited by the boys. However, since these three cities have different genders, I'm struggling to choose ...
30
votes
4answers
868 views

When is an I not an I?

For whatever daft reason, the current trend in modern Latin orthography is to write consonantal 'i' (IPA /j/) as 'i' rather than as 'j'. How can we then tell whether a given 'i' is a vowel or a /j/, ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

When did “c” before “e” or “i” start to be pronounced as [ts] (in contrast to classical [k])?

In Classical Latin, "c" was always pronounced as "k". Since Renaissance Latin grammar reform, the correct pronunciation of "c" before "e" or "i" was codified to [ts]. So in Renaissance the true ...
29
votes
12answers
4k views

How can I study Latin on my own?

What good widely available courses (e.g. textbooks, online classes) are there for people who wish to learn (or continue to learn) Latin on their own? What are their benefits and drawbacks? Please ...
29
votes
4answers
2k views

Rhotacism: why?

I know Ancient Latin was subjected to a phenomenon called "rhotacism", which changed some s into r. However, I can't help but ask myself why it happened. Why did rhotacism happen? Did it influence ...
29
votes
3answers
2k views

Are there exceptions to the Latin stress rules?

Do the Latin stress rules (antepenultimate if penultimate is light, penultimate if heavy) have any known exceptions? If so, what are the exceptions, and what evidence is there in the grammatical ...
29
votes
2answers
531 views

Why did the letters in the alphabet shift position?

When presented with the Greek alphabet, it is like this: Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω Or the Etruscan alphabet: A B G D E V Z H Θ I K L M N Ξ O P Ś Q R S T Y X Φ Ψ But if we ...
28
votes
7answers
14k views

How do you say “please” in Classical Latin?

I'm wondering how to say "please" in Classical Latin like "please" as in "can I PLEASE have that?" or "PLEASE go away" or something like that.
28
votes
4answers
2k views

When is “diēs” masculine, when is it feminine, and why can this word take different genders?

Wiktionary goes into it a bit: Diēs is an exceptional case of a fifth declension noun since it is both used in the masculine form and in the feminine form, instead of just feminine like the rest of ...
28
votes
4answers
53k views

How do you say “yes” and “no” in Classical Latin?

I'm wondering how the Romans would have said "yes" as in "yes please" or "no" as in "no thank you". I don't know if they would have said it exactly like that, but what would they have said if they had ...
28
votes
2answers
515 views

How to say “every fourth year” in Latin?

My intuition says that "every fourth year" would translate to Latin as "quarto quoque anno". I read the comic Asterix Olympius in Latin, and on page 11 the druid describes the Olympic games like this: ...
27
votes
9answers
9k views

Why speak in Latin in 2020?

I'm a Stack-Overflow user, and usually, there is a sidebar where 'Hot' content from communities is shown. Today, one of those questions was this: What should the corona virus be called in Latin? Which ...
27
votes
3answers
4k views

Why does Latin have five different noun declensions?

Do they originate in particular dialects or languages that influenced Latin? Is the question even answerable? With any degree of certainty? Just curious.
27
votes
3answers
3k views

Why are there no native Latin words with a Z?

I have always been told that all Latin words with a Z are ancient Greek loanwords. Why doesn't Latin have any native words with a Z?
27
votes
2answers
6k views

What's the difference between vel, aut, -ve, et cetera?

So I see "vel", "aut", and "-ve" being used (mostly) interchangeably in the Latin I read. Is there any idiomatic difference, or can they be used interchangeably? For ...
26
votes
5answers
23k views

Is “history” a male-biased word (“his+story”)?

In the last International Women's Day I saw some footage showing a poster with the phrase "women making herstory", as opposed to "history". The phrase was playing with the fact that the word "history" ...
26
votes
2answers
383 views

How different were high medieval Latin dialects from different parts of Europe?

There are some regional differences in contemporary Ecclesiastical Latin, mostly in pronunciation (for example, "c" before e/i can be pronounced as [ʧ] or [ts]). Also, I know that as non-natives, ...
25
votes
5answers
3k views

What did “actuālis” actually mean in Latin?

The word actual is a false friend between the Spanish and the English languages. When we say in Spanish "la hora actual" we really mean "the current time" and not "the actual time". So in Spanish we ...
25
votes
3answers
7k views

What is bullshit in Latin?

If a statement is blatantly wrong, one can call it bullshit in English. But how about Latin? Is there something more strong and colorful than falsus? I am not convinced that a direct translation would ...
25
votes
1answer
1k views

Why did Roman authors never feel a need for word spacing?

I have read a few excellent threads from this forum on punctuation in classical Latin. The first concerns what punctuation they used, the second concerns ancient descriptions of punctuation, and the ...
25
votes
1answer
3k views

Why hippopotamus instead of potamohippus?

Judging by this dictionary entry for hippopotamus, the Romans knew this animal and used the name we currently use in English. This word has an obviously Greek origin: hippos is a horse and potamos is ...
25
votes
1answer
398 views

Are there any recorded classical Roman abbreviations of “et cetera”?

Today, there are many different abbreviations for the phrase "et cetera", including etc. &c. &ct. As far as I know, the phrase was used in the classical period - in other words, it's not ...
24
votes
4answers
12k views

How do I say “Brexit” in Latin?

Londinium, Britannia, 284 AD. The military commander Carausius is leading a movement to take Britannia out of the Imperium Romanum. He thinks there is a conspiracy between locals and foreigners to ...
24
votes
6answers
1k views

Why not “Agne Dei”?

Here's a sentence from the Catholic Mass: Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Why not agne? Shouldn't agnus be in the vocative? Note tollis and miserere in the second person. ...
24
votes
3answers
14k views

How did the Romans say “good night”?

There are a lot of different things in a lot of different languages that mean basically the same thing: Sleep well. English: Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite Italiano: Buona notte, sogni d'oro ...
24
votes
2answers
372 views

Why does the ablative case also include the locative?

In Latin we have the ablative case. Its common uses can be described as instrumental and locative (ablativus loci). But in Slavonic languages we have a distinct locative case. Did the instrumental ...
24
votes
1answer
3k views

What are the classical names of the letters of the Latin alphabet?

When I refer to letters in Latin, I (sadly) use the English names for them. If I knew the Latin names, I could apply Classical Latin pronunciation rules to say them properly. So, how was each ...
23
votes
3answers
8k views

“Oh no!” in Latin

Are there idiomatic Latin exclamations similar to the English "oh no!" used when one finds oneself in an unfortunate situation? The only thing that I came up with is that I might want to use vae or o ...
23
votes
1answer
776 views

Why do ablatives of the 3rd declension sometimes end on -e, at other times on -i?

Normally, substantive nouns of the 3rd declension get an -e in the ablative (patre), and adjectives of the 3rd get an -i (audaci). This is already odd: normally, substantives and adjectives, both ...
23
votes
1answer
3k views

How do we know how gn was pronounced in Classical Latin?

As far as I am aware, the classical pronunciation of -gn- (as in magnus) is not [gn] but [ŋn]. How do we know that this is in fact how -gn- was pronounced?
23
votes
1answer
4k views

Why is 'r' often rolled in modern classical Latin?

During my Latin education (using classical pronunciation), I was taught that 'r' should be 'rolled', making a sort of growling sound. For example, the r's (more the second than the first set) in ...
22
votes
2answers
7k views

Meaning of “S. P. D.” in letters

I have been reading Cicero's letters in translation on the Perseus.uchicago.edu site, but check the Latin to improve my limited ability. Most of the letters include S. P. D. in the salutation, and I ...
22
votes
1answer
3k views

Why “ex nihilo” instead of “e nihilo”?

I was helping a friend earlier with an English-to-Latin translation and we started talking about the prepositions "a(b)" and "e(x)", which lose their consonant if the following word begins with one [...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

A story of a king who wanted to simplify Latin grammar

I vaguely remember reading a story years ago, and it was something like this: A king in medieval Europe knew some Latin but made mistakes. I think there was something like him writing plurals ...
21
votes
2answers
473 views

How often were medieval scribal abbreviations used?

In the preface to The elements of abbreviation in medieval Latin paleography, Adriano Cappelli writes Take a foreign language, write it in an unfamiliar script, abbreviating every third word, and ...
21
votes
3answers
336 views

Did the Romans ever combine Greek and Latin morphemes?

Recently I was thinking about words in English which were formed from a Greek and Latin morpheme pair. An example of this is 'television', where 'tele-' is a Greek-originating prefix while 'vision' is ...
21
votes
1answer
739 views

When did the word “ly” enter the Latin language and where did it come from?

In an answer to this question, I gave examples of the word "ly" in Medieval Latin. This leads me to wonder when the term entered the language and where it came from? Because it resembles the article ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

When did scriptio continua and interpuncts give way to spaces between words in Latin?

From this overview of punctuation in Classical Latin, I understand that word spacing as we know it didn't really exist at that time: either an interpunct was used to separate words, or there was no ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

What did Romans call their language?

I was taught that Latinus is an adjective related to the area of Latium. Latin would be called lingua Latina, "the language of Latium", never merely Latina. There is a single-word expression referring ...

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