modern (proper) nouns

Salvēte, I am working on writing some stories for my students that take place in modern times and there are an awful lot of words that either have not been Latinized, or the Latinization is not easily found. For instance, what is the most Latin way to say Wal-mart? Do I just make in indeclinable? Do I say something like Wal-Forum? Is there a text or website or some other resource that explains how the Romans approached new, foreign vocabulary? I want to write stories that include details that are personal to them, but at the same time I do not want to sacrifice Latinity out of ignorance(or laziness on my part)

I know that there are often multiple options for Neo-Latin vocabulary and sometimes you can follow the Latin way and come to different conclusion (lemons come to mind) So I know there is never going to be an authority that says "This is the correct term and no other" but if there is a more Latin way of saying Wal-Mart, I'd like to know.

Thank you for any help.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
Don't get crazy Latinizing things... Use undeclinable, sometimes with a noun (defining it) or a pronoun (if possible or when it makes sense) with it. Like Whatsapp instrumentum, of the like.

Also, anyway, the Vatican people have lists with a number of modern things, like, say, telephone, or street lights. Look for it too in the first place, I guess. (They probably haven't translated Wal-mart though, I think.)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
It irritates me when people "Latinize" brand names and such, like liber facierum or, possibly worse since it's basically Greek rather than Latin, prosopobiblion for facebook. Is that sort of thing actually done in any other language? Those coinages sound ludicrous to me, much as "livre de visages" would in French...
 
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meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
I don't like it either. As little as do I like.. aportuguesar (turn into Portuguese forms/endings) Latin names (or English for that matter, like they do with the Harry Potter ones, Tolkien, in some translations... Tolkien translations of English names are a real facepalm to me...). It makes no sense to me. It's not that language, leave it in the original language.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
There is a point in translating Harry Potter names, because many of them are puns or the like — so, to preserve the humor in the translations for non-English speakers, you have to create new punny names in the target language.

As for "regular" (non-punny) foreign names, I would leave them unchanged in a translation into French or English, but not Latin, because it's actually pretty well-established Latin usage to Latinize proper names of people (they're sometimes left indeclinable, like in the Vulgate, but you don't find that much in more classical texts —some names don't lend themselves well to Latinization, though, in which case I leave them as they are, but most of the time, at least with first names, it's easy enough to at least stick a Latin ending at the end).
 
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Quasus

Civis Illustris
Adding -us to Walmart seems quite innocuous. Indeclinable stuff is so awkward in Latin... From the point of view of teaching, it looks like the way to go. It would help the students to get used to endings, like ubi? - in Walmarto, quo? - in/ad Walmartum, etc.; whereas a high occurrence of indeclinable words in speech is probably atypical of Latin.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Adding -us to Walmart seems quite innocuous. Indeclinable stuff is so awkward in Latin... From the point of view of teaching, it looks like the way to go. It would help the students to get used to endings, like ubi? - in Walmarto, quo? - in/ad Walmartum, etc.; whereas a high occurrence of indeclinable words in speech is probably atypical of Latin.
Why not put it in the 3rd declension then? Wouldn't that suggest itself much more?
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
Like Walmars, Walmartis? Perhaps, it became unproductive at some point. :) Adding -us is quite common, like Euler's Latin name is Leonardus Eulerus, even though surely Euler would seem suitable to be declined like Caesar. :)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Why not put it in the 3rd declension then? Wouldn't that suggest itself much more?
It seems more natural to make it second declension. As far as people's names are concerned at least (there isn't much evidence around for brand names), first and second declension are usually the default, though there are exceptions when the name already looks somewhat like a third-declension word (e.g. Hannibal which looks like the animal type of word or Mago which looks like the Cicero type). I think I see where you were coming from. You were thinking of Mars, Martis, right? Still, I think second declension is better (mart isn't mars, anyway; a -t ending doesn't suggest any kind of Latin third-declension word).

What I would question is, why masculine rather than neuter?
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I wonder what modern languages with case endings do with brand names like this, though. Do you add an ending to stuff like Wal-mart and facebook in Russian, Quasus? Or in Czech, @Godmy?
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
What I would question is, why masculine rather than neuter?
It's masculine in German :D

It depends on what word you have in the back of your mind that it stands for. In German it would be Markt. If in Latin you think of mercatus or maybe venus, you would make it masculine. If the primary association would be forum, neuter.
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
I wonder what modern languages with case endings do with brand names like this, though. Do you add an ending to stuff like Wal-mart and facebook in Russian, Quasus?
Yes, whenever loanwords fit into an existing declension paradigm, they are declined. This normally includes feminines in -a and masculines in a consonant. However, nom. masc. has a zero ending, so in this case nothing is added.

As for the genre, Russian masculines mostly end in a consonant and neuters in -o or -e; loanwords tend to distribute accordingly.
 

Godmy

A Monkey
Pacifica, yes. Just like Latin has the odd-endings 3rd declension (although they are still less odd that in modern Slavics), the Slavic languages historically lost the PIE endings altogether for masculines and were left just with the bare stem as a new ending on which non-nominative case endings are sticked on (so nominative ends up having at least 1 syllable less than the rest of the cases). So almost any word ending with a consonant has therefore some "acoustic" analogy with an actual Czech word.

Walmart would decline like hrad (castle) - we also drop the voicing for final consonants so "hrad" gets pronounced as "hrat" ("h" is voiced though... very hard to pronounce for a foreigner).

Nom, Gen, Dat, Acc, Voc, Loc, Inst
sg.
Walmart, Walmartu, Walmartu, Walmart, Walmarte, Walmartu, Walmartem
pl. Walmarty, Walmartů, Walmartům, Walmarty, Walmarty, Walmartech, Walmarty

the same declension would be used for Facebook

^unlike Russian, since we don't need to convert the foreign words into any special script (we use the Latin alphabet), the pronunciation is sometimes a bit arbitrary, but 99% never the original with the original phonetics since that would sound odd even if the speaker was able to do that. It's usually something "close" to the original pronunciation but with Czech phonemics. In this case though it would be just "valmart" probably (as if read in latin).; facebook then as "fejsbuk".

Romans would do the same, but then, this is not a question of what would Romans do anymore, since Latin is not just "the [literary dialect] language of Romans" for us, but "what Latin has become and how it's been culturally used & treated for the following 1500 years until now as a dead/functional language". And there the argument is that Latin just doesn't adapt the foreign lexicon like any modern/living language would, unless it's absolutely necessary. Hence prosopobiblion and so (that is used widely also in the Academy).
 
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Godmy

A Monkey
So, the reason for the annoying Latinizations is not really linguistic (there I would absolutely have to agree!), but rather historically cultural. One teacher from the Vivarium Novum Academy - a kind of a neologisms expert it seems, once gave me a little lecture over the Internet on of what has been historically the preferred ways to introduce new words to Latin in the order from best to worse, if I find it, I will post it.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
The Czech dative plural sounds like the Old English one — or at least looks like it; don't know what the diacritic represents, but the Old English dative plural is -um.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
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