20 February 2009

Romanes eunt domus

Somewhere in the cupboard, your humble e-scribbler has a coffee mug with the words “Illegitimi non carborundum” on the outside.  Inside there’s a translation of this supposedly Latin phrase: “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

The only problem is the phrase isn’t Latin at all. It sounds like Latin but according to those that know these things, the phrase is just one of those things that got passed down and transmogrified over the years.

That source of all knowledge – Wikipaedia – has a typically lengthy entry on the whole thing.

The phrase cropped up again in a scrum on Thursday, with a new variation: “illegitimati”.  Same difference.  It’s still mock Latin.

At times like this, it is worthwhile to go back to Monty Python.  A little proper Latin and a properly funny Latin lesson to correct the phrase that translates as “People called Romans they go the house.”