Latin tips and tricks
by: Gn. Dionysius Draco Invictus
Following here are a few tips on "everyday Latin" or "list Latin" that could be useful. Naturally, as it is a language unfamiliar to a lot of our members, our aim is not to criticise but to help.

Greeting someone

(note that some Latin is written in caps just to make things clearer)

- If you want to greet one person, you can write: SALVE (person's name). Quite simple. However, if the name you're addressing the person with ends on -US, this ending becomes -E. In case the name ends on -EUS or -IUS, it becomes -I.


Salve Xantippe! (Hi Xantippe!) --> completely normal
Salve Draco! (Hi Draco!) --> completely normal
Salve Piscine! (Hi Piscinus!) --> following the -US-rule
Salve Mari! (Hi Marius!) --> following the -IUS/-EUS-rule
Salve Quinte Pomponi (Hi Quintus Pomponius) --> each part follows each rule

Note, however, that some exceptions do exist. For example, our beloved friend's name, "Mus", is simply addressed as "Mus", because the word belongs to a different declension than most other words which end on -US. Another notorious example is my own praenomen, "Gnaeus", which simply becomes "Gnae" when addressed. As a last remark, it should be noted that Greek names ending on -OS can also take -E when addressed. 95% of all names follow the regular rules, though.

- If you want to greet several persons or a collective, you can write: SALVETE (group / persons' name(s)). Indeed, quite simple too. Except from the difference in greeting word, the rules mentioned above are exactly the same.


Salvete Lupe et Locate (Hi Lupus and Locatus)
Salvete sodales (Hello members)
Salvete omnes (Hello everyone)
Salvete collegae (Hello collegae) --> especially used in the collegia :)

- If you want to say goodbye, the same distinction exists between plural and singular, with all the rules described above. Only the word is different: VALE for singular occasions, VALETE for plural.

- There are other structures available as well. Although SALVE/SALVETE is relatively informal, more informal still is AVE/AVETE which follows the same pattern. In written language there is another very frequent structure extant but this will be dealt with in a later topic.

Congratulations and thanks

- In order to thank someone, the normal formula is: "Gratias tibi ago", or if you wish to thank someone very much "Maximas gratias tibi ago".

- To wish someone good luck, the most common formula is "Bonam fortunam" (Good luck!) or "Di te semper ament" (May the Gods always love you), if you are more religiously inclined.

- In order to congratulate someone on his or her birthday, you could say "Tibi opto felicem diem natalem" (I wish you a happy birthday) or simply perhaps "felicem diem natalem!" (Happy birthday!). To call for a celebration, you can say "Celebremus diem natalem!" (Let's celebrate the birthday!). Last phrase may strike some Latinate ears as odd, though, so it's best not to overuse it.

Titles and Further Comments

- Most titles pose no problem, neither in terms of spelling nor of addressing. However, while English plural for these names is acceptable, I'd recommend that if you try to use Latin, use it throughout. Also note that usually, gender distinctions are made in titles as well! Some men might be insulted if they are addressed as "Senatrix", and a woman might not like being called "Praetor" :). Below is a set of examples in the nominative case, as they will usually be used throughout English text.

Examples (male variety comes first, plural is in the second column):

Senator/Senatrix ------ Senatores/Senatrices (senator)
rogator/rogatrix ------ rogatores/rogatrices (vote counter)
tribunus/tribuna ------ tribuni/tribunae (tribune)
praetor/praetrix ----- praetores/praetrices (praetor)
censor/centrix* ----- censores/centrices* (censor)
rector/rectrix ----- rectores/rectrices (rector)
curator/curatrix ---- curatores/curatrices (caretaker)
praeceptor/praeceptrix ---- praeceptores/praeceptrices (promotor, guide...)

Some forms make no distinction between male and female:

consul/consul ----- consules/consules (consul)
aedilis/aedilis ----- aediles/aediles (aedile)
scriba/scriba ----- scribae/scribae (scribe)
sodalis/sodalis ----- sodales/sodales (member)
collega/collega ----- collegae/collegae (member, colleague)
princeps gentis ----- principes gentis (first of the gens)

* "centrix" and "centrices" are fictive female forms based on the most likely path of linguistic logic. Because there were no female censores (or any other female magistrates) in Rome, these forms have been made up later. Some contend that we should use male forms throughout.

- With regards to writing titles or official functions with caps or not, it's up to you. As the Latin alphabet didn't make this distinction, it's unclear what they would have done.

- For further information on declensions, I could happily refer everyone to the spreadsheet and instruction material available at Collegium Latinum!
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