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Common Latin Sayings

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Common Latin Sayings

Postby Jeff Tirey » Tue Apr 06, 2004 12:22 pm

For anyone here who likes Latin Composition of everyday sayings, this is a nice page:

http://complex.gmu.edu/neural/personnel ... latin.html

Here's a challenge for the creative - how would you say in Latin:

"You're Fired" - from Donald Trump's The Apprentice

"Situational Awareness" - What any U.S. military officer says when describing a military procedure

"Weapons of Mass Destruction" - I think we all know where this one comes from.

"The Tribe Has Spoken" - CBS's Survivor

"What we've got here is... failure to communicate" - From the movie Cool Hand Luke

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Postby whiteoctave » Tue Apr 06, 2004 1:44 pm

Some interesting phrases there Jeff! An insight, somewhat, into your televisual preferences?

"You're fired" - obviously a phrase that is difficult to find a Roman correspondence too, since the concept of contractual work wasn't common outside the domain of slavery. Nevertheless, I think the indomitable Roman army may provide sufficient parallels. I adopt the technical term 'exauctoro' used either to discharge soliders after 16 years (or however many the contemporaneous emperor deemed fit) of service or, as I wish here, to discharge someone as punishment for inadequate or inappropriate behaviour militarily, thus depriving the soldier of pay and pension. Thus:

'es exauctoratus!' would mean "you've been discharged!/you're fired", I think, and the notion of the perfect tense seems to capture the continual state of being unemployed. This phrase effectively equals 'es dimittus ignominiae causa'.

"Situational Awarenes" smacks wonderfully of inane military jargon, so I tried to construct a largely meaningless and pointlessly jingly phrase. I'm nottoo happy with it but nevertheless:

'coniectorum conspectus' lit. "a general knowledge (transf. of 'looking around') of that which lies around" - i.e. working knowledge of the situation. This translation leads more towards geographical than, say, demotic or military intelligence. Perhaps that isn't what is required.

"Weapons of mass destruction". For this phrase I was going to come up with something rather stock, such as 'tela (since 'tela' are offensive weapons and 'arma' defensive) perniciosissima exitiosissimaque', but I realised I was treating the phrase in much the sense it's thought about these days, i.e. WMD is such an ineluctable soundbite that one's mind can think more of the visual and forceful potency of the weapons (as the media would like to show) as opposed to its actual devastating effect. I felt, therefore, that something more sinister was needed, and I accordingly turned to the compound adjective 'mortifer' - "death-dealing" "destruction-bringing". So, since I thought this word said enough I steered clear of a superlative or euphemistic comparative and instead utilised the handy substantive sense of the neuter plural, thus:

'longe lateque mortifera' - "weapons that deal death far and wide"

"The tribe has spoken", not sure what "Survivor" is, presumably an American show, so I may be rather off with the sense of this; I imagined a group of people, cast for some reason as a tribe, voting to do something. Of course this screamed out for a senatorial parallel, and the closest I could come up with was:

'hoc tribus est consultum' - "This is the tribe's decree" (with long u in tribus). I think this is more likely Latin than the inconsequential tribus est locutus/profatus etc.

Finally, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate". Unfortunately, one can't really punctuate Latin so as to involve a change of thought such as in the English here, so I had a bit of trouble rendering the actual sense. I wrote this one in a Ciceronian style, which is both ap- and inap-propriate: it can contain a rhetorical style and change of thought but is necessarily too polished to actually represent a true alteration in one's thought process. Nonetheless, I went for:

'quae tractamus? est commercium scilicet, ut levissime dicam, omnino irritum.' The rather stoccato nature of the Latin is my attempt to show how Cicero's speech is manifestly (cf. scilicet) insufficient. An English translation would go: "What are dealing with? Well, evidently it's communication that is - to use as nice an expression as possible - utterly useless".

Sorry about my verbose handling of those quotes but I always too eager to make my worries and caveats as clear as possible.


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Postby Jeff Tirey » Wed Apr 07, 2004 12:39 pm

whiteoctave wrote:Some interesting phrases there Jeff! An insight, somewhat, into your televisual preferences?

You caught me! :-) Actually only just a bit. I'm more of History Channel, Discovery, TLC AND Sesame Street viewer.

Those are some great responses, I really enjoyed reading them!

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