A bit of Latin

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.


Or 'Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.'


There are two kinds of Latin speaker. There is the kind who slowly forms an appreciation and understanding of the language, finding the right word to use and learning to conjugate verbs. In advanced stages of learning the language this results in Latin professorship. The second kind of Latin speaker just memorises lists of quotations, and merely uses them to impress. Given time, they lose track of which quotes correspond to which translation, and eventually end up whispering Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est! into the ears of hopeful young ladies, instead of something more traditionally romantic. This affliction is easily remedied, generally by placing the offender next to a Latin professor at a dinner party.


However, this guide is for the third kind of Latin speaker. The kind who will say Braccae tuae aperiuntur to spot the fakes. The kind who can make a Latino laugh with a well-placed Te capiam, cunicule sceleste!


The important thing is to always insist that you only know a few handy Latin sayings for everyday use, that anyone could pick up. Any more will put you firmly in category two, and you don't want that. More to the point, We don't want that either.


Useful Phrases


So, you've suddenly found that you need to say a few choice words in Latin. Here are the phrases1, with handy English translations.

Nescio quid dicas I don't know what you're talking about

Nemo hic adest illius nominis There is no one here by that name

Ita erat quando hic adveni.It was that way when I got here

Nihil declarandumI have nothing to declare

Raptus regaliterRoyally screwed

Ut si!As if!

Vescere bracis meis Eat my shorts

Re vera, potas beneSay, you sure are drinking a lot

Noli me vocare. Ego te vocabo.Don't call me. I'll call you.

Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitioneI'm not interested in your dopey religious cult

Canis meus id comeditMy dog ate it

Die dulci freureHave a nice day

Fac ut vivasGet a life

Fac me cocleario vomere!Gag me with a spoon!

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem Stand aside, little people! I am here on official business

Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabris, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.I have a catapult. Unless you give me all of your money, I will fling an enormous rock at your head.

Utinam barbari spatioum proprium tuum invadantMay barbarians invade your personal space

Quo signo nata es?What's your sign?

Romani quidem artem amatoriam invenerunt...You know, the Romans invented the art of love...

Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear.

Utinam coniurati te in foro interficiantMay conspirators assasinate you in the hall

Magister mundi sum!I am the master of the universe!

Non sum piscesI am not a fish

Radix lectiCouch potato

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Unitam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiantMay faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy

Cogito ergo sumI think, therefore I am

Cogito ergo doleoI think, therefore I am depressed

Senito aliquos togatos contra me conspirareI think some people in togas are plotting against me

Vah! Denuone latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur. Oh! Was I speaking Latin again? Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out.

Nihili est - in vita priore ego imperator romanus fui That's nothing; in a previous life I was a Roman Emperor

Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est Yes, that is a very large amount of corn

Perscriptio in manibus tabellariorum est The cheque is in the post

Non illigitamus carborundum Don't let the b'stards grind you down

Nonne macescis? Have you lost weight?

Minime senuisti! You haven't aged a bit!

Id tibi praebet speciem lepidissimam! It looks great on you!

Capillamentum? Haudquaquam conieci esse! A wig? I never would have guessed!

Braccae tuae aperiuntur Your fly is open

Subucula tua apparet Your slip is showing

In dentibus anticis frustum magnum spiniciae habes You have a big piece of spinach in your front teeth

Abutebaris modo subjunctivo You've been misusing the subjunctive

Heus, hic nos omnes in agmine sunt! Hey, we're all in line here!

Non, mihi ignosce, credo me insequentem esse No, excuse me, I believe I'm next

Nonne de novo eboraco venis? You're from New York, aren't you?


Bumper Stickers and Vanity Plates

Sona si latine loqueris Honk if you speak Latin

Balaenae nobis conservandae sunt Save the whales

Frena pro feris teneo I brake for animals

Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscripti catapultas habebunt When catapults are outlawed, only outlaws will have catapults

Sic hoc adfixum in obice legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis propinquus ades If you can read this bumper sticker, you are both very well educated, and much too close

Incitatus Speed demon

Vagans Cruising

Litoralis Beach bum

Mannus Mustang

Fractum Jalopy


Advanced Quotations


The following phrases are for those who can speak Latin while at the same time maintaining a cheesy accent. This is harder than you think. Despite all your best intentions to do a perfect rendition of Clint Eastwood from the film Dirty Harry, celebrity Latin accents invariably transform into something more akin to Manuel from Fawlty Towers.

Quid agis, medice? What's up, Doc?

Dic mihi solum facta, domina Just the facts, ma'am

Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn

Farrago fatigans! Thuffering thuccotash!

Fac ut gaudeam Make my day

Illius me paenitet, dux Sorry about that, chief

Tuis pugis pignore! You bet your bippy!

Diabolus fecit, ut id facerem! The devil made me do it!

Osculare pultem meam! Kiss my grits!

Credidi me felem vidisse! I tought I taw a puddy tat!

Si fallatis officium, quaestor infitias eat se quicquam scire de factis vestris If you fail, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your activities

Te capiam, cunicule sceleste! I'll get you, you wascally wabbit!

Conlige suspectos semper habitos Round up the usual suspects

Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse You know, Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore

Me transmitte sursum, caledoni Beam me up, Scotty


Names and Titles


Translations of the names of some famous bands and television shows.

Cimictus The Beatles

Inlecebrae The Temptations

Lapides provolventesThe Rolling Stones

Ille quisThe Who

Mortui gratiThe Grateful Dead

Simitatores The Monkees

Pueri litorisThe Beach Boys

Illi silicesThe Flintstones

Insula gilliganisGilligan's Island

Zona crepusculiThe Twilight Zone

Opus: quod fiere non potestMission: Impossible

Dies felicesHappy Days

Navis amorisThe Love Boat

Iuvenes inquietesqueThe Young and the Restless

Pretium iustum estThe Price is Right