Latinizing Names

kmp

Civis Illustris
This is a bit of a continuation of a discussion about writing contemporay Latin started in the thread about the Latin for tuba.

The handling of proper names - Tony Blair, Jean-Luc Picard etc - is a major concern when writng new Latin.

I was just wondering what the consensus here was about how to handle proper names.

Cato wisely believes that we need to decline them. I'm happy with this. In English we add "s" to words to indicative possession : Tom's, Harry's etc. This is natural in English and in Latin it would be natural to add endings to indicate case. Besides, if we don't decline the names, we'd have to use prepositions and Latin prepositions are not meant for the job. For example "de" does not mean "of" so we can't say "de Tony Blair". We're using Latin, not a Romance language. (I note though that the Latin Wikipedia leaves names undeclined when a preposition is used - eg ad Tony Blair not ad Tonium Blairem - what do the people here think of this practice?).

So, given we're going to decline or die trying, what's the best strategy?

Firstly, the nominative. I presume the best plan here is to use the actual name unless a Latin equivalent is readily available. For example keep Tony Blair as Tony Blair but perhaps Kylie could become Kylia.

Then the other cases. How do I write "Britain, land of Thomas Paine and Tony Blair"?

Britannia, patria Thomasii Painei et Tonii Blairis

(I dont want to say Anthonius Blair - he actually used to call himself Anthony Blair but in a typically slippery move restyled himself as Tony Blair. I want to keep the "Tony")

Does that look right?

Peter Needham in his translation of Harry Potter takes various different approaches.

Some names are Latinised - Ron Weasley becomes Ronaldus Vislius.

Most names are kept but they are usually only declined when they stand alone


For example:

Dumbledoris = genitive of Dumbledore = "of Dumbledore"

but

Professoris Dumbledore = "of Professor Dumbledore"

Wikipedia also does this, for example:

Tragoedia Romana Coriolanus ultima Gulielmi Shakespeare tragoedia scripta ca. 1607-1608 editaque 1623 (F1) est.

Guilielmus is declined, Shakespeare is not.

What do people think of this? Is it a good strategy to leave a name undeclined if there's another qualifying word that is declined next to it (or a preposition)?

I'm sure we can all bumble through using our wits, but I thought I'd like to hear what other people think.

(Actually, "Britannia patria Thomasii Paine et Tonii Blair" looks like a good way to do it to me).
 

cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
If the name is Latinised, or obviously fits into a Latin declension, then I believe it is normal to decline it. Foreign names are not however always declined in manuscripts, or may be declined sometimes and not others.

Thomas is declined in the Vulgate as if it were 1st Declension, Thomas, Thomae

Another strategy I have seen is to translate the meanings. I can't remember the exact word, but I have seen John Lackland translated as something like Iohannes Sineterra

So your suggestion is quite reasonable (although probably using Thomae), or you could try something like:
Thomae Doloris et Tonii Campi
 

kmp

Civis Illustris
Thanks for the information on declining Thomas.

As for translating the meanings of names - I think that this always has a comical effect. It's done in the Harry Potter translation (for some less important characters) as a joke, really. I would never use it except as an attempt at humour.
 

cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
I quite liked Hunfredus de Monte Scabioso. It certainly hammers home the meaning of the name ;)

Mediaevally it seems to be well accepted, but I think with modern names, in many cases (such as those above), no-one would know what you were talking about...
 

kmp

Civis Illustris
Cinefactus dixit:
I quite liked Hunfredus de Monte Scabioso. It certainly hammers home the meaning of the name ;)

Mediaevally it seems to be well accepted, but I think with modern names, in many cases (such as those above), no-one would know what you were talking about...
Well I certainly don't. :)
 

Cato

Consularis
Regarding modern proper names, I agree that keeping the nominative as close to the original language as possible is the best strategy. There may be cases where you must alter w's and k's (to, say, consonantal u and qu).

My personal preference is to place these in the 3rd declension and compare the form of the nominative with other similar-sounding Latin words. However in some cases the word may be close enough to the first or 2nd declension that a slight alteration will make the word more natural Latin-wise. "Kylie" -> Kylia, -ae is an excellent example, and I suspect any name that ends in a hard C sound (e.g. John Cusack, Danica Patrick) would have to go in the 2nd or 1st: Johannes Cusaccus and Danica Patrica.

I'm not as sold on translation of meanings; this has the danger of being a little too "cute" for my liking. I'd also try as much as possible to avoid using these names in the oblique cases, since no matter how hard we try, the ablative of, say, Georgico Bushe just sounds ridiculous.
 

kmp

Civis Illustris
Cato dixit:
I'd also try as much as possible to avoid using these names in the oblique cases, since no matter how hard we try, the ablative of, say, Georgico Bushe just sounds ridiculous.
Is that a good argument, Cato, for the strategy of decining only one name?

To me, Georgico Bush sounds a lot less ridiculous than Georgico Bushe.
 

Andy

Civis Illustris
In my opinion, if the name has a legit counterpart, e.g. Iohannes or Marcus (rather than John and Mark) then that's what we use.

I do think the entire name has to be declined. While the silliness of the matter is reduced by just declining the one name, confusion might arise as to agreeance.

After all, we could say the Romans treated names with adjectival force. That is Marcus Iunius Brutus would be best, in my opinion, translated as Mark of the Bruta branch of the Iunia Gens, rather than Mark June Brute.

Thus, we have the declining: Marcum Iunium Brutum and so on.

On the other hand, what to do if we encounter a name like DeShawn or Francis. Adding the typical -us is out of the question (though Franciscus is a possibility).

I say we try to transliterate sound rather than letters and get what we might get. It won't be weirder than some of the foreign names the Romans were used to.

Case Example:

Chuck Norris --> Norris is easily of the third declension, so that's left like that. We could use Chuco, -nis for the name, however.

How do you go about the sh sound, now that's another issue. We could simply ascribe 'ss' and let that be the end of it.

George Bush --> Georgios Busso (Georgios is the actual Greek name, and Busso, -nis is quite appropriate)
 

kmp

Civis Illustris
I notice that Ephemeris - the Latin newspaper on the web -

http://ephemeris.alcuinus.net/

also uses this convention of declining one name and leaving the other. For example:

<<<IACOBELLUS CARTER QUID DIXERIT DE ANTONIO BLAIR

"Abominabilis, servilis, caecus, evidenter devotus"

Iacobellus Carter Civitatum Unitarum quondam praeses, insolitâ cum vehementiâ invectus est in Antonium Blair ministrum Britanniae primarium.>>>


Note the Antonio and Antonium - but Blair remains indeclinable.

I think this is actually a good way to proceed and - if ever I can muster enough brainpower to write something in Latin - it's a convention I shall use.
 

paruos

Civis Illustris
Hello everyone

This thread's idea is to make a place for any sort of general and simple doubts and questions that don't deserve a whole thread for it.

I'll begin, just below.

Paruos
 

paruos

Civis Illustris
Re: General Questions

1. Is there a Latin form for the name "Hugo"?

2. And I've used the name "Dan Brown" undeclensed ... This is how he's known, all right. However if someone would like to use a Latin version, for Dan I'd use Daniellínus (maybe ...), or something like, considering that the name is Daniel, but it's a short form (like Octauiánus for Octauius ...), but what about "Brown"? (I have some hints, from what we can see in Portuguese turned into Latin, and some German names, such as Karl, into Carolus, but there are things that I don't have the slightest idea and, sometimes, I even prefer to leave in the original form, because it's the original form, and this, too, is an option in translation ...)

P~
 

cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Re: General Questions

I believe that Hugo is actually the Latin form of Hugh. It is certainly what the author of the Gesta Francorum calls Hugh of Vermandois (Hugo Magnus)

The vulgate has Daniel as Danihel-i

You could find historical precedent for either leaving Brown as it is, or for translating it
 

Iohannes Aurum

Technicus Auxiliarius

Chamaeleo

New Member
Re: General Questions

Whilst some common names have standard translations (e.g. Paul is obviously Paulus), and it may be necessary for certain famous people to have Latinised names, I feel that people go too far over the top by Latinising every single name that happens to come up in a conversation. If you need to say something about Dan Brown once or twice, it seems sensible to me to just say ‘Dan Brown’. You can put ‘auctor’ in apposition to this name to give you something to decline. If the Vulgate Bible was able to have ‘David’ and other Hebrew names hundreds of times without declining them, then you can say ‘Dan Brown’ once or twice.
 

cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Re: General Questions

Not translating modern surnames is the current fashion, however it certainly was not true in earlier periods. Just pulling a few texts at random:

Fulcher of Chatres is referred to as Fulcherii Carnotensis in his Historia Hierosolymitana
The bishop of De Puy is Episcopus Podiensis (likewise in the Gesta Francorum)

Some more from the Gesta Francorum
Guualterius Sinehabere Walter the Peniless
Rotbertus Nortmannus Robert of Normandy (also in Fulcher of Chatres)
Hugo insanus (Mad Hugh)
Gosfredus de Monte Scabioso Godfrey of Monte Scaglioso
& many more here

Baudri of Bourgueil Baldricus Dolensis (himself)
Robertum Flandrensem Robert of Flanders
Robertus Guischardus Robert Guiscardd & many more

Annales Cestrienses
Johannes sine terra John Lackland (ie King John)

The Historia Hierosolymitana by Robert the Monk - he calls himself Robertus Monachus

The Register of the Bishop of Bath & Wells (14th Century) is called the Registrum Radulphi de Salopia The register of Ralph of Shrewsbury

Just opening the Gesta Stephani at a random page we have William fitz Odo - Willelmus filius Odonis
The bishop of Winchester Episcopus Wintoniensis

And many, many more...

As I stated, both methods have been used historically. Some authors will translate all surnames. Some will translate some. Some may even be inconsistent as to their usage.
 

cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Re: General Questions

Just a couple more modern examples, from times when surnames were more formalised

From the Annales Rerum Gestarum Angliae et Hiberniae Regnante Elizabetha
Galfredus Bolenus Jeffrey Bolen
Catharinam Howardam Edmundi Howardi filiam, Catherine Howard daughter of Edmund Howard

And slightly later The Liber Niger Scaccari
descripsit & nunc primus edidit Thos. Hearnius (Thomas Hearne)

None of which, of course, mean that you must necessarily translate the name of a modern author in a modern context.
 

Chamaeleo

New Member
Re: General Questions

I think that one problem in modern times is the profusion of names. In the old days, an Englishman might be called ‘Mark’, and an equivalent man across the Channel would be ‘Marc’. Further down in Italy he'd be ‘Marco’ and in Spain he'd be ‘Marcos’. If he travelled or happened to speak another language, he'd probably translate his name. If he knew Latin, it went without saying that his name in that language would be ‘Marcus’.

Today, things are different. That Englishman could very well have on his birth certificate ‘Mark’, ‘Marc’ or ‘Marcus’, without any hint of foreignness. To write the wrong name when referring to this man is a major faux pas. He'd correct you, and be offended or annoyed if you persisted. If he goes to another country, he probably won't translate his name, certainly not for official purposes, and his surname will definitely never be touched. These things are sacrosanct now.

So, if I see someone called ‘Carolus’ in Latin, in an old context, then I immediately know his vernacular name. The man was named ‘Charles’ in English and French, and ‘Karl’ in German. However, if I see someone called ‘Carolus’ in Latin in a modern context, then I have no idea. The man's name, written on his birth certificate and used by all his friends, could very easily be ‘Charles’, ‘Charlie’, ‘Carlos’, ‘Karl’, ‘Carl’, ‘Chas’ or ‘Chuck’! And all that in an English-speaking country!

This is one reason why I'm wary about being over-enthusiastic about Latinising people's names these days.
 

Iohannes Aurum

Technicus Auxiliarius
Re: General Questions

How about the case with Michael:
Michael, Michel, Miguel, Mike, Mikey, Mick, Mickey, or even Micheal?

Or Robert:
Robert, Roberto, Bert, Berty, Rob, Robby, Bob, or Bobby?

Or William:
William, Guillaume, Gill, Gil, Will, Willy, Bill, Billy, or Liam?

All of these names are common in the Anglosphere.
 

paruos

Civis Illustris
Re: General Questions

CHAMÆLEO dixit:
If you need to say something about Dan Brown once or twice, it seems sensible to me to just say ‘Dan Brown’. You can put ‘auctor’ in apposition to this name to give you something to decline.
Sounds reasonable to me, in my current writing here. Thanks, Chamaeleo!


Cinefactus dixit:
I believe that Hugo is actually the Latin form of Hugh. It is certainly what the author of the Gesta Francorum calls Hugh of Vermandois (Hugo Magnus)
Is Hugo Latinized from Hugh, or Hugh Germanized from Hugo? :mrgreen:
And is it Hugo, -ónis :? ?, this looks strange!

Anyway, Iohannes Aurum gave an interesting guide, I'll probably find answers there.

(It'll be very useful, actually, because I want to write some of my stories in Latin, and they're like writings from between the VIIIth and the XVIIIth centuries, most of them ...)
 

cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Re: General Questions

paruos dixit:
Is Hugo Latinized from Hugh, or Hugh Germanized from Hugo? :mrgreen:
And is it Hugo, -ónis :? ?, this looks strange!
I believe that it is Latinized from Hugh, although I am not an expert in the origin of names. Hugo, -onis is how Fulcher and the Gesta decline it.
 
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