Dog Latin  

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Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus, refers to the creation of a phrase or jargon in imitation of Latin, often by "translating" English words (or those of other languages) into Latin by conjugating or declining them as if they were Latin words. Unlike the similarly named language game Pig Latin (a form of playful spoken code), Dog Latin is more of a humorous device for invoking scholarly seriousness. Sometimes "dog Latin" can mean a poor-quality genuine attempt at writing Latin.

More often, correct Latin is mixed with English words for humorous effect or in an attempt to update Latin by providing words for modern items.


A once-common schoolboy doggerel which, though very poor Latin, would have done a tolerable job of reinforcing the rhythms of Latin hexameters:

Patres conscripti took a boat, and went to Philippi;
Boatum est upsettum, magno cum grandine venti.
Omnes drownderunt qui swim away non potuerunt.
Trumpeter unus erat, qui coatum scarlet habebat;
Et magnum periwig, tied about with the tail of a dead pig.

The meter uses Latin vowel quantities for the Latin parts, and to some extent follows English stress in the English parts.

Another variant has similar lines in a different order, with the following variants:

Stormum surgebat et boatum oversetebat
Excipe John Periwig tied up to the tail of a dead pig.

Another verse in similar vein is

Caesar ad sum jam forti
Brutus et erat
Caesar sic in omnibus
Brutus sic in at

which, when read aloud using common English-speaking mispronunciations, sounds like the following:

Caesar had some jam for tea
Brutus ate a rat
Caesar sick in omnibus
Brutus sick in 'at (hat)

but which actually means

Caesar I am already present for the strong one
Brutus was also
Caesar thus in all things
Brutus thus in, but

The following spoof of legal Latin, in the fictional case of Daniel v Dishclout (from George Alexander Stevens' "Lecture on Heads", 1765), describes a kitchen:

camera necessaria pro usus cookare, cum saucepannis, stewpannis, scullero, dressero, coalholo, stovis, smoak-jacko; pro roastandum, boilandum, fryandum, et plumpudding mixandum, pro turtle soupos, calve's-head-hashibus, cum calipee et calepashibus.

Dog Latin is featured in the dialogues of Cranly, a student in James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. When asked the question "Have you signed?" Cranly answers "Ego habeo," apparently using habeo as if it were a translation of the English auxiliary verb "have". He also makes remarks such as "Credo ut vos sanguinarius mendax estis, quia facies vostra monstrat ut vos in damno malo humore estis," This is a word-for-word "translation" of his intended speech: "I think that you are a bloody liar, because your face shows that you are in damn bad humor." Adding to the effect, he mixes up the singular "you are" and "your" with the plural vos ... estis and vostra, among other pseudo-Latin constructs.

Further examples

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dog Latin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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