1. Education

Short English Phrases From the Forum in Latin Translation

The Art of Matching English With Non-Equivalent Latin Concepts


Here are some examples from the Ancient/Classical History Forum of Latin translations by forum members. There is no guarantee these English into Latin translations are the best possible Latin translations. Even the Romans sometimes didn't know what was the grammatical form -- according to Tatum in Always I am Caesar. He says the Romans sometimes resorted to Roman numerals and abbreviations to avoid having to decide which case an ordinal number should go in. You should be able to see that there are many variables. Also note the lack of 1:1 correspondences:

"Strength and Honor" Latin Translation

  • Vires honosque
  • Vires et honos
  • Virtus et honor
Here we see there are different words for the English concepts. What the Romans meant by virtus (roughly, manliness) is not what we mean by 'virtue'. The word "and" can be translated in other ways, as well as the two shown here.

"Fear Is the Mind Killer" Latin Translation

  • Metus est homocida mentis
  • Metus est homocida animae
  • Metus, homocida mentis
  • Dum metus mentum desistere iubet nihil posse est
  • Metus mentem delet
  • Timor mentem delet
Again, the English concepts may be translated into various Latin words. The verb "is" is unnecessary in Latin in this case. The idea of "is killer" can be replaced by a transitive Latin verb.

"Speaking of My Non Sequiturs" Latin Translation

  • Pertinens ad verba mea 'non sequitur'
This is an unusual case since the Latin (non sequitur) is part of the English sentence.

"You Can't Save Everyone" Latin Translation

  • Conservati non possunt esse omnes
  • Omnibus servari non potest
Neither of these Latin versions has the second person (you).

"Messenger of the Gods" Latin Translation

  • Nuntius deorum
  • Nuntius caelestis
  • Nuntius divinus
While the first choice might literally be translated messenger of the gods, it is not necessarily any closer to what a Roman might have said than the other two. The second and third imply the messenger is himself a god, where the first doesn't necessarily.

"Dreams of Reality" Latin Translation

  • Somnia veri
No forum poster came up with a Latin word that would have meant what moderns mean by"reality" to the Romans.

"Remember Those Who Remember You" Latin Translation

  • Memento illorum qui tui meminerunt
Be mindful of those who are mindful of you.

"Not Forever" Latin Translation

  • Non pro semper
  • Non ad perpetuitatem
  • Finitum
In this case, there was discussion of whether or not to modernize the Latin language, as the first example does. It is a literal translation of the English.

"Always Grateful" Latin Translation

  • In perpetuum gratias [agimus understood]
While the poster wanted more information, this is what has been provided. It ties in nicely with the preceding.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.