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Dog Latin

From Academic Kids

The phrase Dog Latin refers to the creation of a phrase or jargon in imitation of Latin, often by directly translating English words into Latin without conjugation or declension.

One well-known use of dog Latin is in the temporary naming of undiscovered (or not yet officially named) chemical elements. For example, the name given to element 118 is "ununoctium", the IUPAC systematic element name, from the Latin words for "one one eight".

Other applications of Dog Latin mix correct Latin with English words for humorous effect or attempt to update Latin by providing equivalents for twentieth century items. Examples include the description of a kitchen in legal Latin recorded in the 1898 edition of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:

camera necessaria pro usus cookare; cum saucepannis, stewpannis, scullero, dressero, coalholo, stovis, smoak-jacko; pro roastandum, boilandum, fryandum, et plum-pudding-mixandum…

Writers and filmmakers also often employ dog Latin (or dog Greek) when in need of names for characters, places or objects. The names of spells employed by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter books are a well-publicised example, such as 'Petrificus Totalus'.

Another well known, humorous example — frequently confused with real Latin — is the aphorism Nil illegitimi carborundum (and several simple variants), which is said to mean "don't let the bastards grind you down". "Carborundum", the abrasive, has a Latinate ending and suggests grinding, but in fact is a nineteenth century trademark constructed as a portmanteau of carbon and corundum (a Hindi word). "Illegitimi" sounds as if it might mean "illegitimate children" in the literal sense (and hence imply the modern English idiom), but the actual Latin word for "bastard" is nothus. And "nil" sounds as if it might be a negator adverb for the grinding of "carborundum", but actually is the noun, "nothing".

Dog Latin, despite the similar name, is not related to Pig Latin.

See also

it:Latino maccheronico

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