Up to Latin

alt.language.latin FAQs

This is an unofficial Frequently Asked Questions list I once created for the alt.language.latin USENET group. Perhaps some of it would equally apply to any newer forum to discuss Latin.

What is the purpose of alt.language.latin?

  1. The “language” in the title makes it clear that the newsgroup is for discussion of a language in English. (Note that the title is not “alt.lingua.latina”.)
  2. The “latin” makes it clear that the newsgroup is for discussion of the Latin language.
  3. The “alt” means that it couldn’t pass the normal newsgroup creation process.

Some of us, however, do use the newsgroup to exercise our Latin skills. This is tolerated. Just ignore us.

Do I have to post in Latin?

  1. No!
  2. Posts in any language are tolerated, although you’re probably better off using English firstly; Latin, secondly; others, thirdly.
  3. Feel free to attempt to post in Latin no matter what your level of skill. Fortes fortuna adiuvat!

Should I complain when people post in Latin instead of English?

  1. No.
  2. Just ignore them if you can’t or won’t read them.

Can you help me translate something into or out of Latin?

  1. The denizens of alt.language.latin are more than happy to help you out.
  2. If you are a student, your teacher reads alt.language.latin... (^_^)

Should I title my translation request: “Translation request”?

  1. Believe it or not, translation is a pretty common topic on alt.language.latin. So, you might want to use a more descriptive Subject than “Translation” or “Translation request” or “Help with translation”.
  2. Perhaps the phrase or part of the phrase you want help translating would make a good Subject line.

Since I put the phrase in my subject line, I shouldn’t repeat it in the body of my message, right?

  1. Thank you for using a descriptive Subject line.
  2. No!
  3. Redundancy in communication is a virtue, not a flaw.
  4. People expect the body of a message to contain complete thoughts, not depend upon the context of the Subject line.

When posting a translation request, should I post only the text to be translated without context?

  1. No!
  2. Give as much context with your request as you can. If you thought context could be important in your native language, it’s doubly important when doing translations.

Why do the translations from different posters vary so much?

  1. Languages are flexible things: There’s often more than one way to interpret something.
  2. Languages are flexible things: There’s always more than one way to express something.
  3. Different posters have different experience & different levels of knowledge.
  4. You get what you pay for.
  5. Perhaps you should have given more context.

I’m getting a tattoo; how do you say “...” in Latin?

  1. Do not choose your tattoo based on what some posting in a Usenet newsgroup suggests!
  2. Do not get a tattoo in a language you do not know!
  3. If you’re still foolish enough to continue, ask away...

What is the proper way to pronounce Latin?

There’s not one!

Some people pronounce it almost exactly as Italian is pronounced. This is common amongst Catholics & singers.

Some choose a reconstruction of classical pronunciation. I have been told that Vox Latina is a good reference.

Many people just pronounce it more or less as they pronounce their native language.

As one William Harris wrote:

One person finds it ludicrous to read Vergil with an accent which appeared a thousand years after the poet’s death; but another reads Vergil the way Dante read him, thinking this is good enough for him. Here as elsewhere de gustibus non disputandum est.

In fact, I doubt many people are very consistent in their pronunciation, innocently violating principles of whichever school they belong to.

This isn’t so bad a situation, however. I suspect that there are some English speakers somewhere who I (a native English speaker) would have a harder time understanding than I would any pronunciation of Latin.