27 votes
Accepted

Why "ex nihilo" instead of "e nihilo"?

That's actually not a rule. ab and ex can lose their consonant, but in fact it's far more common for them not to. Check out Lewis and Short's entries on them: ex/e ex always before vowels, and ...
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  • 38.9k
20 votes
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Can "ee" appear in Latin?

First, Galilaee sounds right. See this question about the vocative of Gnaeus for details. There are situations where one finds -ee- in Latin without the first e belonging to ae. What I found is not ...
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15 votes
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The Latin word “Have” rather than “Ave” as a translation of the Greek word Χαῖρε?

It's an alternate form of ave; the L&S entry gives a couple of examples. Presumably this form arose through hypercorrection: since h was generally not pronounced in popular speech, confusion ...
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  • 27.9k
14 votes

Latin ligature "qz"?

I would say that is a common abbreviation for "-que". Maybe you could find useful Cappelli's Dizionario di Abbreviature latine (a very detailed repertory of latin abbreviations). Take a look here. ...
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  • 2,856
13 votes
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Why sequundus > secundus?

Secundus is regular, eqvus isn't There's a sound change called the "Boukólos Rule", which started back in Proto-Indo-European. When labiovelar consonants (like /kʷ/ and /gʷ/) appeared next ...
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  • 50.6k
12 votes
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Variations on the diminutive: -olus and -ulus

A word search confirms that -olus is used instead of -ulus after a vowel. A Perseus search for words ending in -olus reveals (among a few false positives, like malevolus) that every diminutive form ...
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  • 36.5k
12 votes

Can "ee" appear in Latin?

The Vulgata is full with proper nouns having double -ee, specially as endings (e.g. Bersabee, Phacee, Osee). I imagine you are not particularly interested in these. Below are all the other words I ...
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12 votes
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What is Plautus’s pun about frustum and frustrum?

I wrote a longer answer to this on the English language stack exchange, but in the migration process it got deleted. Shorter answer: the quote is "ne sis frustra" from Plautus's play Miles Glorius ...
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  • 236
12 votes
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Æ ligature – the definitive answer

When it comes to Latin, 'æ' is the same as 'ae', at least when in the diphthong. When the vowels are in different syllables, as in aer, then 'æ' is not used. You could see this so that 'ae' is such a ...
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12 votes

Conquering darkness by science

The macron (the bar over the a) is a modern reading aid, not a compulsory orthographic convention. It's not usually written outside of dictionaries, grammar, and text editions prepared specifically ...
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  • 6,160
12 votes
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In Judith in Vulgate, why does Jerome transliterate the name "Arphaxad" with 'ph', but he transliterates "Holofernes" with an 'f'?

Both of these names are older than the Book of Judith, and come from different places. Arphaxad is a transcription of Hebrew אַרְפַּכְשַׁד (ʔarpakšad), which appears in Genesis: a minor character who'...
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  • 50.6k
11 votes

The Latin word “Have” rather than “Ave” as a translation of the Greek word Χαῖρε?

There is a longstanding view that the interjection ave is not the imperative of the verb aveo “to long for”, but is a loan from Punic ḥawe (tentative vocalisation), the imperative of the Semitic verb ...
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  • 15.7k
11 votes
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Use of ß (“eszett”) in Latin text

The modern German roman-type ß was developed at the end of the 19th century as an analogue of the blackletter ß, which was a ligature of ſ and z (which is reflected in its name) that had slowly ...
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  • 1,164
11 votes
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Why is it "dare" and not "dāre" when most first conjugation verbs spell like "amāre"?

The story, as often, has to do with Proto-Indo-European laryngeals. Both these verbs had a laryngeal as the last consonant of the root: *deh₃-, *steh₂-. All the forms in Latin are based on the zero ...
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  • 27.9k
11 votes
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When is "ei" a diphthong?

Very few Latin words contain "ei" as a diphthong. Some possible examples are deinde, dein, deinceps, rei, spei, and in fact, the pronoun ei (but not always). The exact list of examples ...
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  • 20.8k
11 votes
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How can I translate a slogan "pain is temporary, glory eternal!" to Latin correctly?

A well-known Latin translation of a Greek aphorism is Ars Longa, Vita Brevis Art is long, life is short. If you use that as a model, you could do something very similar: Dolor brevis, Gloria Longa ...
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  • 6,975
10 votes

Did the Romans confuse a long vowel with two short ones?

Well, there is some fairly simple evidence that a sequence of two identical short vowels could in some cases be treated as equivalent to a single long vowel, namely that the former can contract into ...
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  • 27.9k
10 votes
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Variation in the spelling of word-final M

I'm afraid my answer is the boring one: free variation, based on the amount of space available. The tilde originally arose purely as an abbreviation: instead of writing an n or m in line with the ...
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  • 50.6k
10 votes

Do Aeolic and Ancient Greek have other examples of τ/π (πέντε / πέμπε)?

This phenomenon isn't confined to the voiceless stops τ/π, but also involves their voiced and aspirated counterparts, δ/β and θ/φ. So there are pairs like Δελφοί / Βελφοί "Delphi", θήρ / φήρ "wild ...
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  • 27.9k
10 votes

In the "Pater Noster" prayer why is 'panem nostrum' sometimes "quotidianum" and other times "cotidianum"?

Quotidianum and cotidianum are simply two different ways to spell the same word. This word belongs to a group of words that can be spelled with either a QU or a C, which includes cum and quom. These ...
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  • 2,546
9 votes
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-NL- and -LL- in Classical Latin

Check out the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg. It thankfully allows you to search words, which will allow you to look at deeper results. From a cursory search, though it seems that conl- is earlier, ...
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  • 38.9k
9 votes
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Is there a word for a typo?

1. Mendum Mendum corresponds exactly to this sense: Gaffiot mendum,¹⁴ ī, n., faute, erreur [dans un texte]mendum,¹⁴ ī, n., faute, erreur [dans un texte] : ; Att. 13, 23, 2 Lewis&Short ...
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  • 2,212
9 votes

Why was Z used in digraphs?

Note that the letter Z has been associated with affricate sounds like [ts] for a very long time. Ancient use of "Z" for affricate sounds Zeta in Classical Attic Greek is thought to have ...
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  • 20.8k
9 votes

Understanding the spelling deviation from the scripture in the title of a sundial nearby a Catholic church in Moscow

It's hard to tell for sure from the image, but couldn't that just be the stroke of an A, with the rest faded or somehow gone missing? There is a word Umbri, but it has to do with the ancient people by ...
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  • 38.9k
8 votes
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Emeo – possibly misspelled word

I believe it is supposed to be emo, "I buy". This would make sense in the context. I don't know whether it was a typing error or whether the author mistook emere for an irregular verb of some kind. ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Why does 'a' change to 'i' in verbs derived from 'habere'?

It's usual to attribute it to a point in time when Latin had a strong stress accent on the first syllable, so interior vowels in open syllables weakened to i or (depending on the environment) u. So, ...
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  • 4,548
8 votes

E pluribus unum or Ex pluribus unum?

The general rule for the use of e and ex as prepositions can be found in Latin grammars like Gildersleeve's: Ē is used before consonants only, ex before both vowels and consonants. (§417.6) Lewis ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Which Latin word has the most spelling variants?

The best word I know in this sense is lacrima with six variants. I have seen these spellings in dictionaries and elsewhere: lacrima lacruma lachryma lacryma dacrima dacruma These variations are due ...
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