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86 votes
6 answers
51k 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 ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
59 votes
5 answers
14k 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 (...
user avatar
58 votes
21 answers
25k 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 &...
52 votes
6 answers
36k 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 ...
luchonacho's user avatar
  • 12.5k
51 votes
3 answers
24k 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 ...
Mason Wheeler's user avatar
45 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
44 votes
4 answers
25k 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 ...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 1,837
39 votes
18 answers
7k 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 ...
38 votes
5 answers
2k 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, ...
Wrzlprmft's user avatar
  • 1,174
38 votes
3 answers
8k views

Could all soldiers in the Roman army actually speak Latin?

I am under the impression that men for the legions of the Roman Empire were conscripted across the empire, and so Latin could not have possibly been the first language to every soldier. But could all ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
37 votes
1 answer
12k 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 ...
L. Peters's user avatar
  • 1,609
37 votes
2 answers
10k 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 ...
user avatar
35 votes
2 answers
13k 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 ...
user avatar
33 votes
6 answers
110k 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 ...
Landon's user avatar
  • 667
33 votes
3 answers
4k views

What is the most common classical Latin word that we don't understand?

I assume that we do not know the meaning of every single word attested in classical and older Latin (literature, inscriptions, and other material). If this assumption is false, it makes this question ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
33 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
Yadeses's user avatar
  • 1,115
33 votes
3 answers
4k 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 ...
jogloran's user avatar
  • 732
31 votes
3 answers
7k 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.
davidrmcharles's user avatar
31 votes
4 answers
5k 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 ...
ArtOfCode's user avatar
  • 413
31 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
30 votes
7 answers
23k 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.
Landon's user avatar
  • 667
30 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
Jackson's user avatar
  • 403
30 votes
1 answer
9k views

Why did so many Romans name their children after ordinal numbers?

Why were so many praenomina ordinal numbers or apparently derived from ordinal numbers? A few examples: Octavia Minor (Augustus Caesar's older sister) Octavia Major (Augustus Caesar's older half-...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
29 votes
10 answers
10k 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 ...
Nick's user avatar
  • 417
29 votes
4 answers
1k 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/, ...
jwodder's user avatar
  • 524
29 votes
1 answer
5k 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 ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
29 votes
1 answer
9k 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 ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
28 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
Eithne's user avatar
  • 384
28 votes
4 answers
7k views

ATM in Vatican City: "Inserito scidulam quaeso ut faciundam cognoscas rationem"

The automated teller machines in Vatican City show this screen when awaiting a card: Could someone, quaeso, break this down word by word? There are a number of things here that I find puzzling or ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
28 votes
2 answers
815 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: ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
27 votes
2 answers
16k views

How do you write dates in Latin?

I have read a little about the history of the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Julius Caesar introduced the twelve-month Julian calendar in 46 BC, and Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian ...
ktm5124's user avatar
  • 12.1k
27 votes
3 answers
5k 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?
Yadeses's user avatar
  • 1,115
27 votes
5 answers
2k 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. ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
27 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
ktm5124's user avatar
  • 12.1k
27 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
Pavel V.'s user avatar
  • 1,863
26 votes
3 answers
10k 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 ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
26 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
Cerberus's user avatar
  • 20.1k
26 votes
2 answers
734 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 ...
marmistrz's user avatar
  • 653
26 votes
2 answers
6k 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?
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 1,837
26 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
user avatar
26 votes
2 answers
578 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, ...
Pavel V.'s user avatar
  • 1,863
26 votes
1 answer
523 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 ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
  • 2,550
25 votes
5 answers
44k 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" ...
luchonacho's user avatar
  • 12.5k
25 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
25 votes
5 answers
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 ...
Charlie's user avatar
  • 2,219
25 votes
3 answers
13k views

What is bullshit in Latin?

If a statement is blatantly wrong or shows lack of interest in the truth, one can call it bullshit in English. But how about Latin? Is there something more strong and colorful than falsus? I am not ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
25 votes
3 answers
28k 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 ...
user avatar
24 votes
3 answers
11k 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 ...
TheHonRose's user avatar
  • 1,316
24 votes
4 answers
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 ...
luchonacho's user avatar
  • 12.5k
24 votes
2 answers
6k views

Which scientific journals still accept papers written in Latin?

Many scientific journals still have their title in Latin (e.g., Acta Mathematica, Ars Disputandi, Euleriana etc.) I was wondering if some of them (or maybe other ones) were accepting papers written in ...
idunno's user avatar
  • 249

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