latinforyou.com seems to be a world-wide phenomenon! Here is a partial list of the hometowns of people who have had some Latin translation work done through this site. I appreciate the confidence you all have had in my skills and experience! In no particular order:
Quebec City, Athens, Chelmsford, Mississauga, Vancouver, Helsinki, Tianjin (China), Orange (Texas), Rockley (Australia), Esko (Minnesota), Coorparoo (Australia), Hong Kong, Portage (MIchigan), Meelo (Netherlands), Sturminster Newton (UK), Margburg (Germany), Changsha (China), Trondheim (Norway), New Kabul Compound (Afganistan), San Diego, Portland, Woodstock (Ontario), Martinsburg (West Virginia), Bournemouth, Berwick (Australia), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Oshkosh (Wisconsin), Estevan (Saskatchewan), London (UK), Belgium
In one randomly selected week (June 2-8, 2014) we had visitors from 65 countries:
Britain, USA, Australia, Canada, Norway, Belgium, Philippines, Singapore, Costa Rica, India, Peru, Finland, Ireland, Serbia, Sweden, Bulgaria, Denmark, Czech Rep., Turkey, Viet Nam, Spain, Indonesia, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Iraq, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Trinidad & Tobago, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Lebanon, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, Estonia, Thailand, Macao, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Yemen, Ukraine, Greece, Argentina, Russia, Austria, Portugal, Georgia, Latvia, Oman, Myanmar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iran . . .
Let's keep a running tab on all visiting nations. So, to the above we can add Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mauritius, Moldova, Chile, Palastine, Jersey, Macedonia, Krygyzstan, Kenya, Barbados, Ghana, Qatar, Reunion, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Iceland, Nepal, Kuwait, Albania, Mongolia, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Malta, Ecuador (93 and more to come) . . .
I watched an old Wayne and Shuster skit - The Burning of Rome - from the 1970's. The following four gags from that.
Two Romans are in a taberna. The first says to the waitress, "I'll have a pizzum." The second says, "I'll have a pizzum as well." The waitress calls to the cook, "That's two pizza!". Then the first Roman (Johnny Wayne) turns to the camera and says, "That didn't get a big laugh here, but it went over big in the high schools".
The Burning of Rome, from the epic poem by Vergil, Fidicen in Tecto Fervido (Fiddler on the Hot Roof).
Looking at an attractive girl, a Roman says, "As Catullus said 'Aedificata similis Colosseo latericio' - she was built like a brick amphitheatre"
And finally as a lead-in to a commercial break, "Ars longa, ad infinitum" (Art is long, commercials are forever).
A Roman walks into a taberna and asks the caupo (inn-keeper) for a martinus. The inn-keeper says, "Don't you mean a martini?" The Roman says, "If I want a double, I'll order one!" (thanks to Wayne & Shuster)
The same Roman decides to have a beer instead. He gives in his order and holds up two fingers. The inn-keeper brings him 5 . . . think about it.
Two Cyclopes are eating their dinner. One picks a staff up out of his dish and says, "Hey! there's a crook in my shepherd's pie!"
Okay, for pure Latin: Te salutare volo. Itaque tibi mitto navem sine prora et puppe. The answer is "Ave". If you remove the prow (first letter) and stern (last letter) from the word navem, you are left with "ave", the Latin word for 'Hello'. The neat part is that, if you translate the joke into English IT STILL WORKS!!. "I want to greet you. So I am sending you a ship with prow or stern." If you remove the front and back from "ship" you're left with "Hi".
When students make the shift from "modern" Latin, written at a introductory or intermediate level, to ancient Latin, they run into a huge cyclopean wall. This is the page designed to help you climb that wall and read the Latin the original speakers wrote.
First of all, don't beat yourself up or get discouraged by the difficulty of 'original' Latin written by an ancient Roman. It supposed to be hard (as Tom Hanks' character says in A League of Their Own). Think about it. Imagine after your 3 years of French (if you're Canadian) or 3 years of Spanish (if you're American) you're asked to read a Quebec government communique or Don Quixote by Cervantes. You'd have no chance. And yet you have get the pleasure of doing just that in Latin. If you read Pliny, you're likely reading his official letters to the Emperor Trajan about governmental business while Pliny was governor of Bithynia. "I have been examining the government accounts and I believe that we need a forensic auditor to recuperate unnecessary expenditures." And when you read Virgil, as you are sure to, you're tackling one of the giants of literature who spent 10 years packing meaning into every syllable of the Aeneid.
Below you'll find some help, which will grow over time. Bona Fortuna!!
The first 7 lines of Virgil's Aeneid shows us a number of the reasons why ancient Latin is so evilly difficult after reading the exercises in Wheelock or the stories in the Cambridge Latin Course. Let's analyze the passage and see what we find. Fasten your seatbelts, we're in for a bumpy read. A fuller commentary can be found under Aeneid I annotated.
Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit
litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto
vi superum saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram;
multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem, 5
inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum,
Albanique patres, atque altae moenia Romae.
I sing of weapons and a man, who, a refugee by fate, first came from the shores of Troy to Italy and the Lavinian beaches; he was much tossed on lands and the sea by the violence of the gods above and because of the never-forgetting anger of nasty Juno; he also suffered many things in war, while he was establishing a city and bringing gods to Latium, whence the Latin race, the Alban fathers and the walls of lofty Rome.
Now, what is there in this Latin gobbet that makes it so much more difficult? Let's count!
1.) Latin dictionaries regularly have old and out-dated translations. Arma is translated as 'arms' instead of a more current term like 'weapons'.
2.) In English we either sing a song or we sing about something. We don`t tend to sing a subject, but that how the Latin reads - I sing weapons and a man.
3.) We expect the first word in a relative clause to be the relative, but qui is the second word it its clause.
4.) When we read Latin, we come to expect words which are closely related to be side by side (e.g., adjectives are beside the nouns they describe). But LATIN DOESN`T GO BY WORD ORDER!!! So the following words on not side by side: Troiae & oris, Lavinia & litora, saevae & Iunonis, memorem & iram, altae & Romae.
5.) Come to think of it, we are taught to expect a certain word order: subject - indirect object - direct object - verb. Adjectives immediately follow their nouns. So we don`t learn that endings rule the world so much as we learn a different word order, which we then start to rely on. But ancient Latin doesn`t follow a rule of word order. What do you think endings are for! So we suddenly get Laviniaque venit litora. Here the verb buts in between a noun and its adjective!
6.) Prepositions are more optional than we have been taught. So `to Italy` and `to the beaches` is just Italiam and litora without ad.
7.) It`s not just grammar that is tougher. We are also reading high literature. The typical ancient Roman author was writing a lofty, arty work, rather than simply and in a straight-forward way. That leads to all kinds of literary devices, most of which make for great reading, but tough translating.
7a.) alto is deep. Here it is used to represent the deep blue sea. It makes sense when it is paired with lands (terris), but it is still rather 'poetic'.
7b.) superum looks like the accusative singular (masculine or neuter) of superus - it aint. It is, in fact, the syncopated (as a syllable has been dropped) form of the genitive plural superorum. And its literal meaning, those above, is applied to the gods.
7c.) The passage ends with a transferred epithet. That's when the poet takes an adjective which naturally describes one noun and switches to another nearby noun. There are two transferred epithets in this passage. Technically it is Juno who never forgets, not her anger. By describing her anger as memorem, Virgil gives her anger a personality and a life of its own. Also, we would expect to read 'the lofty walls of Rome', but Virgil describes Rome as lofty. Now I love the effect. We all know walls are high, so taking away its adjective doesn't really hurt it. But to describe Rome as lofty brings an image to mind the high and mighty city of a high and mighty empire. Great stuff! - but it doesn't make it any easier to translate.
8.) Even after we have translated the language and turned Latin into English, we still have to translate the culture. Believe it or not, the Romans didn't think the same way we do and they had their own history and legends. So there are references that need explaining, because they're not ours:
8a.) Lavinia was the daughter of King Latinus and became the bride of Aeneas, thus serving as a concrete connection of the Latins and the Trojans.
8b.) Latium was the area surrounding Rome.
8c.) Albani is a reference to Alba Longa the city which the descendants of Aeneas ruled down to the time of Romulus and Remus.
8d.) patres has a double meaning. The Alban fathers are the ancestors of the Romans. But patres was also a term used to describe the Roman senators (patres conscripti = conscript fathers).
And I haven't even gone into a discussion of translating the culture. If you know the details of the story, you have a huge advantage over someone who is still learning the history and legends of Rome. It helps make sense of the passage to know who or what Lavinia, Juno and Alba are.
So noli desperare. Remember that endings rule the world and word order doesn't. Figure out what goes where in the sentence, build your skeleton and then you can take out your dictionary and start fleshing the thing out. And remember this - the Romans weren't genetically smarter than we are. If they could read it, so can we!
I may get in trouble from Latin teachers and English purists, but let's be honest, some translations are much better than others. My own standard is to make the English translation sound like something that a contemporary English speaker would actually say. If you look at a fairly simple term like amor patriae, you can come up with several options. The standard one is "love of country", the literal one is "love of the fatherland". My favourite is "patriotism".
Here are a few more of my favourite English renderings of Latin words and phrases (and, yes, many are featured in the Cambridge Latin Course). This will be a work in progress with regular additions. The expressions are listed alphabetically for convenient use.
|concilium capere||to get an idea|
|eheu!||ayah! (the Chinese exclamation is perfect here)|
|spectaculum edere||to put on a show, to produce a show|
|flocci non facere||to not give a damn (or 'to not give a rat's ass)|
|nonne||nonne cenam tuam edidisti? Haven't you eaten your dinner?|
|num||num ante cenam edis? Are you eating before dinner?|
|tenere||to take possession (describing owning a building that has just been bought as in Clemens tabernam novam tenere cupiebat. = 'Clemens wanted to take possession of his new shop'|
|fabulam agere||perform a play|
You can also be mischievous and have some fun with your translations (and some people have done just that). LATIN TAG 'FUN' TRANSLATION TRANSLATOR
habeas corpus Have his Carcass Dorothy Parker tuum est Your Thing Exists Max Nelson Via Sacra Holy Street JCA Pater noster qui es in caelis Our Father who is in the sky Dr. Fred Casler aurea mediocritas the golden mediocrity JCA
More to come . . .