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Latin for Fanfic Writers
Latin for Fanfic Writers
Table of Contents
1.  Intro to Latin (This Post)
2.  Pactio (Negima) Post #1
3.  Project Listing Post #2
4.  Rough cut at at Negima style pactio for members of the Azumanga Daioh cast post #11
Latin is a dead, dead language,
as dead as it can be.
It killed off all the Romans,
and now its killing me.
I'm keeping this short and simple for now.  I may revise this to be more comprehensive later, but that isn't needed at this time.  
Latin is written with the Latin alphabet.  However, it was originally a more primitive form, with cases of single letters where we use two.  (Iulius or Julius, for one.  Either works, they are said the same.)  Also, this was before capitalization, so that matters less.  The language can also be used without such things as spaces and punctuation.
I was told to say c hard, like k, and say v like w.  Hadrian is Ha dri an.  (I do not remember all of the rules exactly, I'm writing this off the top of my head for now.)
English codes some of the meaning by word order.  'That cat ate my dog' has a different meaning from 'my cat ate that dog' or 'that dog ate my cat'.  Latin codes these things by modifying the word itself.  The word order can be changed entirely, in most cases, and retain the same meaning.
Google translate, as far as I can tell, has major issues with this and should be avoided.
Just the coding for three genders, singular and plural, and IIRC, six or seven cases, works out to something like 36-42 different variations for each word.  Throw in voice, person and tense, and it starts to look impossible.  Thankfully, there are patterns that most words follow.  Even more thankfully, for those that just want to get their toes wet, there are tools that can do most of the heavy lifting.
Nouns are declined and verbs are conjugated.  Nouns and adjectives are classified in different declensions, depending on how they vary.  Likewise verbs and conjugations.  Agricola (singular, nominative) is first declension, but oddly male instead of female.
I use two tools, which have so far been enough for all my translation work.  These should be enough for most fanfic applications.
The first is Wheelock's, the famous Latin text.  Basically, there are some tables in back and front that are very useful.  They may not be needed for everything, but they are useful for things like 'which case is the indirect object' and 'what ending do I need for the right plural of this third declension word?'
The second is William Whitaker's Words.  This is an electronic dictionary with a pretty good collection of words.  (~E sets it to english to latin, ~L sets it back to latin to english.)  I use it to check my spelling, to expand my vocabulary, and to help keep track of all the crazy variations in Latin words.  I've just found that he'd died some years back, when I went to check his website, and found it gone.'s_Words
Quick tutorial part two: Type in sanctum, and it will display ADJ in part of the entry.  Type in sanctorum, and in the same part of one of the entries, it will display N.  This is how you recognize nouns and adjectives in this program.
Nominative, direct object of a sentence.  The dog in the dog at my homework.  (In Latin, I might write 'the homework of me', if I can find a word I like for homework.)
Genitive.  Shows ownership, almost always translated to English with of.  Of men in the master of men would be translated as the plural genitive of man.
Personal note:  I wrote a lot of tables when I was studying Latin more formally.  This has left me a bit OCD about Latin Grammar.  
I also only took the basic stuff.  Formal written English is the form of English that has the firmest rules.  It is possible that they teach people to be less OCD in the more advanced courses, with reading Caesar and the poets and all that.  Thus, some of what bothers me about what I see as incorrect grammar may be due to my limited education.
Latin for Fanfiction Writers, Pactio section
Pactio is a Latin word that Words defines as agreement.  Contract, pact or covenant might also be defensible translations.
Here, we are talking about its usage in the Manga Mahou Sensei Negima.  There, a pactio card is a proof of a contract between a mage and someone else.  The original card, or proper duplicates, can be used for various things.
The usual format for these has a picture of the contracting partner, the name of the contracting partner, and beneath the name, a title, or something like that, in Latin.
I am unsure of the format of the name.  The original story was written in Japanese.  I think they used the Latin Alphabet (Romanji) of the Japanese using the usual rules there, and then converted that into the short version of the Latin Alphabet.  K's to C's and stuff like that.  Thing is, one of the cast was named Kaede.  This might go to Caede, which is actually a Latin word.  (Singular imperative, can be translated as 'Kill', but can also be translated as a command to perform other sorts of acts.)
The title is simple, and can be very simple.  'Dux Bellorum' was a title the Romans used for some of their warlords.  It can be literally translated as 'Leader' (dux) 'of wars' (bellorum).  It fits the usage I've seen on the cards I can remember.  So, either an adjective modifying a noun, or the nominative of one noun and the genitive of another.
The absolute easiest pactio title would be a nominative singular, and a genitive singular.  This is because they are the two forms of a noun that are used write it when one doesn't want to write out a bigger table.  So, these are what the dictionaries, including Words, show.  
Rex means king.  Type it in, and Rex, Regis comes out.  Nauta is sailor, and the dictionary likewise shows Nauta, Nautae.  Rex Nautae is King of the Sailor.  Nauta Regis is sailor of the King.  
Stolidus is an adjective meaning stupid or brutish.  Stolidus Rex works, meaning stupid king.  These agree in gender, number, and case.  The need for agreement makes it a little bit more complicated.
virorum is a genitive plural for hero.  Rex Virorum is King of Heroes.  This way can be more complicated.  (It took me a while to put together the right guess for the suffix.)
A listing of fanfic related Latin translations being undertaken in this thread.
Find a viable translation for seven Azumanga Daioh pactio cards in the negima style.
Progress - initial array of concepts and translations
      Are any of these helpful?
      Can anyone give me some suggestions for the girls?  I feel that I haven't grasped them well.
      Also, any issues or suggestions about the explanations, instructions, comments and opinions?
RomanFanboy Wrote:Google translate, as far as I can tell, has major issues with this and should be avoided.
What do you think of]the translator at Better, worse, about the same?
Rob Kelk
"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose
them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of
the same sovereign, servants of the same law."

- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012
Very nice, very useful information, RomanFanboy. Thank you! I can certainly make use of this for DW8, as I have some longish magical passages in Latin, which you will no doubt consider horribly mangled because I used Google Translate to create them. I'll have to use your notes and tools to retranslate them now.
-- Bob
Then the horns kicked in...
...and my shoes began to squeak.
Another good language resource is Wiktionary, the Wikimedia Foundation project with the incredibly ambitious goal to fully document every word from every language in every (currently used) language. The root category for Latin on English Wiktionary is here. It won't do any translating for you, and you have to understand what all the grammatical terms mean, but it has complete tables for a huge number of words. (A few are lacking tables entirely, but those are mostly particular forms of other words with a special meaning in a particular context. EDIT: To clarify with an example: "abscissa" doesn't have a proper table, because it's just a form of "abscissus" with a special meaning in mathematics.)

An interesting quirk of Wiktionary is that every language's use of a given word is added to a single page: the page for "in" has sections for 26 languages. (I think some of them should be lumped together: why do Old English, Old High German, Old Saxon, Pennsylvania German, and Interlingua need their own sections when the they all have the exact same, very short, entry?)
All links are to Amazon pages. And DAMN is it hard to link properly.

There is a reference grammar from Oxford that is a pretty good "nuts and bolts" underpinning. That and Wheelock's along with a Cassell's Dictionary takes care of the minimal efforts...
''We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat
them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.''

-- James Nicoll

Motion to have a subforum made, titled "Advice and Tools for Writers" (or something along those lines), and this thread moved and stickied there.
blackaeronaut and also any other interested parties,

I'm still working on getting the rest of my queue of posts this period sorted out. I'd kind of intended this thread to also be a workshop for hammering Latin into usable shape for people's fanfic projects.

So, if such a subforum is created, and this is moved there, I would then like to know if that is appropriate usage.

Another potential issue is that it might constitute too official an endorsement of my views on how such things should be handled. I'm an argumentative jerk by nature, and this is related to a personal peeve. Where writing for fun is concerned, authors should not be compelled to take advice that is not useful for them. For many fanfic applications, for a good chunk of readers, lorum ipsum might be good enough. Or Google translate. I'd intended this to be a combination of 'here is a way' and 'this is my reaction to using Latin this way, and why', and not 'this is how it must be done'.

I'd prefer a caveat in the sticky with the subforum rules.

(I don't let myself get agitated about the magic words in Harry Potter. I would not suggest going out of one's way to get correct Latin grammar there. Harry Dresden is another example. Correct usage and true meaning do not have the most importance there, in universe, and Harry's Latin education is not supposed to be perfect.  I don't know of any issues with Dresden's Latin usage, but then I haven't checked.)

My two cents.
Edit: memos originally intended for this post
    Probably about the same.  It looks like, pop in a phrase, for example, 'kill them', get a translation.  More likely it just does it word by word.  Thing is, even if it could recognize that kill and them need to be translated together, there are still lots of choices.  Neca and necate are both commands to kill, with a small but perhaps important difference.  The phrase 'Kill them all.  God will surely know his own.' comes from a bit of Latin used when the Cathars were suppressed.  'Kill them all.'  was 'Caedete Eos', which changes to 'Caede Eos' if you are only commanding a single person.  Simple machine translation, if it used the same word, might substitute Caedo, for Caede or Caedete.  (Or use caede when caedete is intended, or vice versa.)  Caedo is 'I kill', which is wrong from the context we have as human English readers.
    I didn't manage to get the engine you provided to work.  However, it said something about Notre Dame.  That is where the web version of Words is hosted, so I suspect that it uses Words as the back end.
    Google uses a combination of internet searches and links to associate words in one language with words in another.  Given the whole, call it, forty to one relationship between Latin and English words, getting the right form should be something of a matter of chance.  I also very much dunno how good Google is at matching word to word.  (Famous phrase to famous phrase should be pretty good, which is something that a more normal electronic dictionary will have issues with.)
    I'm afraid that I've only put in the bits most relevant to Pactio cards right now.  (I've only put up two, of many, cases.)  Basic sentences would also need some information about verbs, tenses, and probably voice.  That said, there are some much better other sources of that information, and I have plans of putting some of it up anyway. 
    Probably won't get into compound sentences, which might be expected in something like a scholarly text, until I understand those better.
    One of my favorite Latin jokes is that Ioannes Agricola (John Farmer or Jack Bauer) says please with 'necabo te' (I will kill you).  Latin idiom for please is 'amabo te', same grammar different verb. 
    Main issue is that Jack Bauer uses compound sentences when he threatens to kill someone, and those change the grammar.  I think 'do this or I will kill you' is a different type of compound sentence in Latin from 'don't do this, or I will kill you'.  I do recall that it does matter whether the speaker expects the action to happen or not.
    Not one I've used before.  I took a look, sometimes found it sparse, but that may have been me using it wrong.  Using it other ways found some more stuff.  I think it had cases that I haven't learned about in Wheelock.  Edit Later: Ended up using it.  So far, so good.
    I'm not familiar with the dictionary and the grammar.  I guess I should scrounge up the money somewhere one day.  I like my Wheelock's a lot, and Words has been pretty good to me so far.  Does the dictionary you link to have Quirinus?  Words did not have that one.
I simply thought it would be useful to have for the writer that is earnestly interested in this sort of thing - I know I would because I prefer to present as much authenticity in my writing as possible.
Short of a new subforum, I can pin this to the top of the forum where it will hang permanently with the "advice" thread I started some time back.
-- Bob
Then the horns kicked in...
...and my shoes began to squeak.
There were things I should have said in the projects post, but ran out of the sense for.

I think the instructions are enough to allow someone else to write the relevant pactio bits. I am also willing or interested in making the attempt.

However, I don't know enough about the cast of Azumanga Daioh, especially for the fanfic in question. I would probably need to be told the intended concept for each character.

People are complicated, and summaries and translations both simplify. If I try and translate a summary, I will likely simplify most of the meaning out. For pactios, it is best to have clear and distinct concepts for each person before translating.

Going off wiki, I'm guessing the seven you are after are Chiyo, Tomo, Koyomi, Sakaki, Ayumu, Kagura, and Kaori.

I'm going off wiki for these concepts, they are the best that I can come up with on my own, however poor they are.

I did pick the choice that seems most amusing for me, of each, to translate. (Or in some cases, I'm just lazy.)

Not that I don't have enmity towards any of them. I simply don't know them well enough to have information beyond wiki.

Chiyo Concepts: Intelligent youth, beauty, small, wealth, dog equestrian.

Let's see, Canine and Equine, suggest that canite might be a dog rider by analogy with equite. However, I think that makes more sense as English usage.

Picking an adjective and a noun, intelligent youth, feminine, might be sensata juventa.

Tomo Concepts: Thief of Names, Idiot, competitive, heedless, bully,

Nominative of thief and genitive of name.

Thief of Name, Fur or Feles (also means cat), and nominis for 'of name', or nominum 'of names'. (Thanks to Proginoskes's link to wiktionary, I ended up not needing to dig out my Wheelock's for the plural genitive of that word.)

(Fujiko Mine entry said something about Tomo using the name.)

Koyomi Concepts: poor singer, brutal, atheletic and studious

Let's go with Brutal Singer.

Stolida, brutal, female, single, and nominative adjective. Cantrix, single female nominative for female singer. Stolida can also mean stupid, but I don't mean that here.

Sakaki Concepts: Enemy of cats, enemy of animals, large

inimica, personal enemy/the enemy, bestiarum, of animals/of the animals

Ayumu Concepts: Idiot, lazy, stiff, storm lover,

deses morio looks like lazy idiot.

Kagura Concepts: Athlete, swimmer, idiot

Fatuus natator, idiotic swimmer. I went with masculine here, because I had a masculine word for swimmer, natator, and didn't care to dig around for a female version. (I figure I've enough insulting titles, they aren't likely to see use, might as well get even lazier for them.)

Kaori Concepts: unrequited crush, astronomy, psychological weakness?

delirus magus, another adjective/noun combo. Either mentally impaired astrologer, which might be close enough to astronomy club. Or, mad mage.
robkelk Wrote:
RomanFanboy Wrote:Google translate, as far as I can tell, has major issues with this and should be avoided.
What do you think of]the translator at Better, worse, about the same?
So, are you still checking this site out, or perhaps did you completely miss my question?
Rob Kelk
"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose
them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of
the same sovereign, servants of the same law."

- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012
Rob Kelk,

I saw the original, and made an effort at checking it out. It didn't like like the combination of the browser I used, and how I had it configured. In my posting binge last night, I edited in to #8 the response I'd been sitting on since getting it squared away.

It looks like if one, for example, typed in 'kill them', it wouldn't know the difference between '(you) kill them' and '(y'all) kill them'. Unless it turns out that it asks questions about all the unknown things that English doesn't explicitly code for, I'm thinking that it has issues. I do suspect that the back end it uses may be the same as the electronic dictionary that I've been ranting positively about.

Probably better than google for finding the right word, the same for the right form of the word, and worse for finding common famous phrases. Example of the last might be the 'and where they made a desert, they called it peace.'

Edits to this thread last evening. Edited Table of Contents. Added first attempt at translations for vorticity's pactio project. Edited project post (#2) with questions for the general reader, and vorticity. Edited responses to Rob Kelk, Foxboy and Proginoskes in to my response to blackaeronaut in #8.

(Those last predated or mostly predated the response to blackaeronaut. I'm sometimes much slower working over the bits I do offline, than the ones I do online. Hindsight suggests that I could've stood to work on the tone more anyway. For example, my local library might have a copy of the Grammar and Dictionary that Foxboy mentions. That being the case, I'm strongly inclined to see go take a look.)
In re: Quirinus:

My Collins "Gem" Pocket Latin Dictionary lists Quirinus as an alternate name for Romulus.

Checking to see if my Cassell's has it. ...

It does and says it specifically refers to Romulus at his apotheosis...

Cassell's is an old, old dictionary, it's first edition somewhere in the 1800s. Most recent edition is, to my knowledge, circa 1970 or so.

The Oxford Grammar is a bit more recent... circa 2000
''We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat
them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.''

-- James Nicoll
Local library lists Cassell's New Latin-English English-Latin Dictionary, 5th Edition. Seems to be a recent reprint of the 1968 version. (Amazon says first publication was in 1854.)

Overheard someone a few weeks ago say that Quirinus was the deified Romulus. When my dictionary didn't have the correct spelling, I turned to wiki, which did, but also other ideas. Quirinus was certainly in the Roman pantheon.
Project Gutenberg Latin Grammar from the 19th century

New Latin Grammar by Charles E. Bennett

COPYRIGHT, 1895; 1908; 1918 BY CHARLES E. BENNETT ... 5665-h.htm
''We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat
them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.''

-- James Nicoll

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