Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.
Or 'Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.'
There are two kinds of Latin speaker. There is the kind who slowly forms an appreciation and understanding of the language, finding the right word to use and learning to conjugate verbs. In advanced stages of learning the language, this results in Latin professorship. The second kind of Latin speaker just memorises lists of quotations, and merely uses them to impress. Given time, they lose track of which quotes correspond to which translation, and eventually end up whispering Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est! into the ears of hopeful young ladies, instead of something more traditionally romantic. This affliction is easily remedied, generally by placing the offender next to a Latin professor at a dinner party.
However, this guide is for the third kind of Latin speaker. The kind who will say Braccae tuae aperiuntur to spot the fakes. The kind who can make a Latino laugh with a well-placed Te capiam, cunicule sceleste!
The important thing is to always insist that you only know a few handy Latin sayings for everyday use that anyone could pick up. Any more will put you firmly in category two, and you don't want that. More to the point, we don't want that either.
So, you've suddenly found that you need to say a few choice words in Latin. Here are the phrases1, with handy English translations.
|Nescio quid dicas
|I don't know what you're talking about
|Nemo hic adest illius nominis
|There is no one here by that name
|Ita erat quando hic adveni.
|It was that way when I got here
|I have nothing to declare
|Vescere bracis meis
|Eat my shorts
|Re vera, potas bene
|Say, you sure are drinking a lot
|Noli me vocare. Ego te vocabo.
|Don't call me. I'll call you.
|Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione
|I'm not interested in your dopey religious cult
|Canis meus id comedit
|My dog ate it
|Die dulci freure
|Have a nice day
|Fac ut vivas
|Get a life
|Fac me cocleario vomere!
|Gag me with a spoon!
|Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
|Stand aside, little people! I am here on official business
|Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabris, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
|I have a catapult. Unless you give me all of your money, I will fling an enormous rock at your head.
|Utinam barbari spatioum proprium tuum invadant
|May barbarians invade your personal space
|Quo signo nata es?
|What's your sign?
|Romani quidem artem amatoriam invenerunt...
|You know, the Romans invented the art of love...
|Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.
|I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear.
|Utinam coniurati te in foro interficiant
|May conspirators assasinate you in the hall
|Magister mundi sum!
|I am the master of the universe!
|Non sum pisces
|I am not a fish
|Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?
|How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
|Unitam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant
|May faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy
|Cogito ergo sum
|I think, therefore I am
|Cogito ergo doleo
|I think, therefore I am depressed
|Senito aliquos togatos contra me conspirare
|I think some people in togas are plotting against me
|Vah! Denuone latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur.
|Oh! Was I speaking Latin again? Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out.
|Nihili est - in vita priore ego imperator romanus fui
|That's nothing; in a previous life I was a Roman Emperor
|Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est
|Yes, that is a very large amount of corn
|Perscriptio in manibus tabellariorum est
|The cheque is in the post
|Non illigitamus carborundum
|Don't let the b'stards grind you down
|Have you lost weight?
|You haven't aged a bit!
|Id tibi praebet speciem lepidissimam!
|It looks great on you!
|Capillamentum? Haudquaquam conieci esse!
|A wig? I never would have guessed!
|Braccae tuae aperiuntur
|Your fly is open
|Subucula tua apparet
|Your slip is showing
|In dentibus anticis frustum magnum spiniciae habes
|You have a big piece of spinach in your front teeth
|Abutebaris modo subjunctivo
|You've been misusing the subjunctive
|Heus, hic nos omnes in agmine sunt!
|Hey, we're all in line here!
|Non, mihi ignosce, credo me insequentem esse
|No, excuse me, I believe I'm next
|Nonne de novo eboraco venis?
|You're from New York, aren't you?
Bumper Stickers and Vanity Plates
|Sona si latine loqueris
|Honk if you speak Latin
|Balaenae nobis conservandae sunt
|Save the whales
|Frena pro feris teneo
|I brake for animals
|Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscripti catapultas habebunt
|When catapults are outlawed, only outlaws will have catapults
|Sic hoc adfixum in obice legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis propinquus ades
|If you can read this bumper sticker, you are both very well educated, and much too close
The following phrases are for those who can speak Latin while at the same time maintaining a cheesy accent. This is harder than you think. Despite all your best intentions to do a perfect rendition of Clint Eastwood from the film Dirty Harry, celebrity Latin accents invariably transform into something more akin to Manuel from Fawlty Towers.
|Quid agis, medice?
|What's up, Doc?
|Dic mihi solum facta, domina
|Just the facts, ma'am
|Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert
|Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn
|Fac ut gaudeam
|Make my day
|Illius me paenitet, dux
|Sorry about that, chief
|Tuis pugis pignore!
|You bet your bippy!
|Diabolus fecit, ut id facerem!
|The devil made me do it!
|Osculare pultem meam!
|Kiss my grits!
|Credidi me felem vidisse!
|I tought I taw a puddy tat!
|Si fallatis officium, quaestor infitias eat se quicquam scire de factis vestris
|If you fail, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your activities
|Te capiam, cunicule sceleste!
|I'll get you, you wascally wabbit!
|Conlige suspectos semper habitos
|Round up the usual suspects
|Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse
|You know, Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore
|Me transmitte sursum, caledoni
|Beam me up, Scotty
Names and Titles
Translations of the names of some famous bands and television shows.
|The Rolling Stones
|The Grateful Dead
|The Beach Boys
|The Twilight Zone
|Opus: quod fiere non potest
|The Love Boat
|The Young and the Restless
|Pretium iustum est
|The Price is Right