Thursday, February 25, 2016

One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor: Latin Translations

"One does not simply walk into Mordor!"
Boromir, Fellowship of the Ring

When faced with the task of translating a classic quote such as this popular meme, you could just go literal with something along the lines of:

quidam non simpliciter in Mordorem ambulat.

It would seem that just adding 3rd declension endings to Mordor is best, along the lines of mercator, mercatorem.

But I always prefer, if possible, to translate a phrase into more authentic Latin by using the vocabulary of some similar quote.

There are two quotable quotes that come to mind here. First we have Vergil's:

sic itur ad astra.
Thus it is gone to the stars.
Aeneid 9.641

Using this idiom, one would then Latinize the meme as follows:

Non Itur Simplicter ad Mordorem.

Another quote along the lines of describing a very difficult journey is given to us by Seneca the Younger:

non est ad astra mollis e terris via.
There is no easy way from Earth to the stars.
Hercules Furens 437

If we choose this quote as our starting point, we would Latinize the meme into:

Non Est Ad Mordorem Mollis e Rivendellensi Via.

Since Rivendell is where Boromir was when he spoke the line, and from which the Fellowship of the Ring set out on their impossible journey, I used it in place of terris. the -ensis (ablative -ensi) suffix was commonly added to place names, especially settlements, when one needed to Latinize a foreign word. That's what we see, for instance, in the official seal of my Alma Mater:

Sigillum Universitatis Wisconsinensis.

More Latin renderings of memes to come. Stay tuned.

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