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Lingua Ratina!

"Lingua Ratina!"

I always warn people against using machine translators to translate English to Latin. These things are hopeless. In fact, a popular Latin-language forum warns visitors:

Do not use internet translators for Latin.

Please do not post results of these translators. It is impossible to know what the intended meaning was. If you defile our forum with this refuse, your thread may be locked or deleted. You are better off just providing what you would like translated in English.

If you have tattooed yourself with one of these translations, and you would like confirmation that it is wrong, you may post to this thread. We will leave any mistranslations on the thread to serve as a warning to others.

I would go so far as to say "always wrong," but I am going by personal experience.

At any rate, this translator-itis seems to have affected those who should know better. I found this tidbit at the Railgun entry at Wikipedia:

They gave the project the Latin motto "Velocitas Eradico", which they translate as "Speed Destroys" but can more accurately be translated "I am speed and I destroy," or similar.

The official translation is just plain wrong, and the second one is suboptimal.

Eradico is the first person, singular, present, indicative, active of eradicare, "to eradicate" or "to destroy" (obviously, we get the English word eradicate from this Latin verb). And so it means "I eradicate" or "I destroy."

Velocitas is either the nominative singular or vocative singular of velocitas, "speed." This form of the word means either "speed" as the subject of a sentence, or it means "Oh speed" as a direct address (that is, speaking to it as if it were a person).

Velocitas Eradico could mean either "I, Speed, Eradicate" (indicating that Speed, as a personication, is doing the eradicating) or "Oh Speed, I Eradicate" (indicating that the one doing the eradicating is speaking to Speed as a personification). But it could never mean "Speed Destroys."

If we want to use the same noun and verb, "Speed Destroys" should be

Velocitas Eradicat

Eradicat is the third person, singular, present, indicative, active of eradicare, and so it means "[he, she, it] destroys."

"I am speed and I destroy" could be rendered in various ways, including Velocitas Sum et Eradico or perhaps Velocitas et Eradico (if we wanted to omit the verb, as mottos tend to do).

The Velocitas Eradico that we have very likely is the product of one of those machine translators. I have no idea which one was used, but I can say that the ones I used online translate "Speed Destroys" in horrible ways: e.g. Aliquam corrumpit, Volo Attero. Yuck!

So, yeah, caveat factor sententiarum!

But it really is a shame that the bad Latin is on the seal. Couldn't they have just paid some Latinist $5 to get a first-semester-level Latin translation?
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Sailor Saturn/Hotaru Tomoe

November 2013



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