Medieval spelling


Many medieval writers wrote truly awful Latin. They couldn’t spell and they invented new words. To take just one example, the word listed in Lewis and Short’s Latin Dictionary as ‘synemmenon’ is variously spelled as ‘synnemenon’, ‘synemenon’, ‘sinemenon’ and ‘sinemmenon’. How should Blitz Latin respond? It can no more list every alternative mis-spelling of a difficult word than can (say) a modern English dictionary. The new phonetic checker handles all the above mis-spellings. Thus users of Blitz Latin for medieval documents are certain to suffer some disappointments, although the translator is actually very good (far beyond reasonable expectation) in trying to adjust for medieval errors. Example of difficulty: the famous Magna Carta was a Latin document limiting the king’s powers, that was signed at the instigation of his powerful barons by a reluctant King John in 1215 in England. The barons are addressed repeatedly in the Magna Carta as ‘barones’. Every single (printed) Latin dictionary that you can find lists ‘barones’ as ‘blockheads/dunces’ with NO alternatives! How will you react, dear reader, if you attempt to translate the Magna Carta and encounter references to ‘the king’s loyal blockheads’ in every other sentence? It is not only medieval authors who wrote dreadful Latin. There is an irritating modern trend for children’s authors to use short Latin phrases in their books, apparently to impress their young readers. Many of these sentences make no sense at all, so naturally Blitz Latin cannot interpret them properly either. Example: ‘damnatio tuum’ [sic]. If you are a young person, please remember that the Latin in your favourite book probably makes no sense even to a human Latin expert.