East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Brushing up the language of the Caesars

I started doing Latin in middle school – Latin was not part of the curriculum, but my Italian teacher was really old school and he considered Latin to be essential fr the intellectual education of us kids.
Which makes sense.
This meant I got to high school – where Latin was part of the science curriculum – with a basic knowledge of the language and grammar.
It was a disaster.
For the first time in my student life I faced teacher hostility – I was “the upstart” who had “cheated” by studying Latin before.


What was really shattering to me was my poor performance in translating Latin.
I’d be the first to acknowledge that my knowledge of the grammar was not organized and orthodox, but I did have a knack for languages (or so I thought), and translating Latin had never been a problem for me.
And yet all my translations came back loaded in red marks.
My average score was 3/10.
And while all students in my class had started poorly as I, suddenly, after the first trimester, a lot of them made a quantum leap and started getting very high marks, while I kept being a disaster. Continue reading



Talk like a Roman

A great vlog post by the esteemed Lindybeige about language in Ancient Rome – a post that has a very close connection with my Aculeo & Amunet stories1 – and also has a certain connection whit the Great Swape Debate.

  1. yes, I still remember the guy that said a Roman centurion would never use the expression “cuckold“ 


Cursing in Latin (and Ancient Greek)

628x471There’s a lot of fun to be had writing historical fantasy.
For instance – in my Aculeo and Amunet stories, Amunet tends to be pretty sharp-tongued.
She’s nasty, arrogant, and swears a lot – especially in the earlier stories.

Now, I’m no fan of gratuitous profanity, and yet as everything else in a story, profanity too can be used to define a character, to underscore a scene or situation.
It’s a tool, just like any other.
And because Amunet is a lady – and as somebody said, I fancy her a lot – I like to use this tool in a somewhat elegant, classy, lady-like fashion.

So, how does one go about making his female character say “F*ck!” a lot, but with class and elegance? Continue reading