Thursday, February 23, 2012

Appendix NF: Latin & English Dictionary

Since I'm wiling away the time on my all-expense paid vacation in Nulb, I don't have much to report.  But as I haven't done a nonfiction sourcebook update in a while, I thought I'd talk a bit about the holiday beach-reading I brought along with me: the good ol' Latin English Dictionary.  Mine, at 502 mass market pages, is pretty meager, but it's still pretty handy for naming monsters or characters or what-have-you so that they don't sound like I just pulled them directly out of Blipdoolpoolp's clunis.

We all know the cooler latin words like codex and sepulcrum, but what about invictus (something to do with rugby), sicarius for assassin, and arx for citadel?  And aren't elves +1 to hit when using an arcus or gladius?  Sadly, a hefty proportion of Latin words are either tragically familiar to English speakers--injury = injuria, insanity = insania, interdict = who cares--or just sound too clinical or downright silly; I can't read more than a few entries without being reminded of the Biggus Dickus scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian.  And to top it off, there just doesn't seem to be a good Latin word for dungeon: my book offers carcer and ergastulum, but these focus on the status of the people detained in them more than the subterranean connotations that dungeon requires.  Plus, they just don't sound very cool.  But still, a lot of Latin words have enough charm that they're worth using anyway; as long as the Padre isn't in your group, no one needs to know that your new character Furnax the Filcher is named after the furnace.

One other cool bit: The Latin version of the saying "Making a mountain out of a molehill" is "Arcem facere e cloaca" which,  literally translated--if my flimsy little Latin & English dictionary is to be trusted--means "Making Citadels out of Sewers" which describes to perfection what it is that I do around here.


  1. That is very cool. I've used any nuumber of different foreign dictionaries. I found one that had a limited number of words but about 20 different languages.

    Now I've found the google translation function and it is amazing. Don't know if it is accurate but it comes out with some very interesting words (even if they are really saying 'My hovercraft is full of eels.'

  2. I've got an Oxford Chinese-English dictionary that is fairly handy (I know a lot of Chinese characters through learning Japanese, but don't speak Chinese).

    I've also got a short pdf of Old Norse to English translations on my computer. Also good for RPG purposes.

    I definitely recommend foreign language dictionaries to help spice up naming conventions in games.

  3. @Jason: If I had a nickel for every time I've needed to alert non-English speakers about the eel capacity of my hovercraft...

    @Lord G: Old Norse can be PDFed?? Did you have to chisel it into your monitor?

  4. Makes playing games tougher these days, but I'm up for the challenge... ;)