“I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.”

That’s the translation of one of my favorite Latin phrases: Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam. Of course, I don’t actually speak Latin. I just subscribe to that famous dictum, Quidquidne latine dictum sit, altum viditur. (Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.)

I may have mentioned before how much I like the phrase olet lucernam (it smells of the lamp), which describes writing that has been worried over too much: its lack of free flow betrays the long hours spent writing beside a smoky oil lamp. Here are some new favorites:

Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione.
I’m not interested in your dopey religious cult.

Feles mala! Cur cista non uteris? Stramentum novum in ea posui.
Bad kitty! Why don’t you use the cat box? I put new litter in it.

Mihi ignosce. Cum homine de cane debeo congredi.
Excuse me. I’ve got to see a man about a dog.

Actus non facit reum nisi mens est rea.
I never intended to kill anybody.

Non curo. Si metrum non habet, non est poema.
I don’t care. If it doesn’t rhyme, it isn’t a poem. (Obviously I don’t really believe this. It just cracks me up.)

Fac ut nemo me vocet.
Hold my calls.

Noli me vocare, ego te vocabo.
Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Canis meus id comedit.
My dog ate it.

Di! Ecce hora! Uxor mea me necabit!
God, look at the time! My wife will kill me!

Fac ut gaudeam.
Make my day.

Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre?
Is that a scroll in your toga, or are you just happy to see me?

Ventis secundis, tene cursum.
Go with the flow.

Totum dependeat.
Let it all hang out.

Te precor dulcissime supplex!
Pretty please with a cherry on top!

Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.
I can’t hear you. I have a banana in my ear.

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Fac ut vivas.
Get a life.

Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem.
In the old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags.

And, in case this all strikes you as a silly waste of time, you’re quite right: Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum, after all. (Garbage in, garbage out!)

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Categories: Language, Words | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on ““I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.”

  1. I have a book of these. Every once in a while I get it out, read a page and laugh like a Toontown Weasel.

    I did so again, though I intended to read it quite stoically, as the language befits, when I read the one about leaving the children to perish in the crags.

    Noli me vocare, ego te vocabo. That one is going to be my Facebook status right now.

  2. I laughed at the perishing children too (but then, I’m a huge fan of the Gashleycrumb Tinies). It reminded me of a version of Psalm 137 translated into Scottish and set as rhyming poetry. The original reads:

    Brood of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
    a blessing on those who will repay you
    for the evil you have done to us!
    A blessing on those who will seize your infants
    and dash them against the rock!

    The final verse in the Scottish version goes:

    O blessed may that warrior be
    Who, riding on his naggie,
    Should take thy wee bairns by the taes
    And ding them on the craggie!

    How lighthearted! DING goes the craggie! It makes infanticide sound positively musical.

  3. OH My Heavens! It makes killing kiddies seem fantastic fun. Me next. Me next.

    I bet, put like that, we could get the wee bairns to line up for this.

  4. indigobunting

    Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem.

    I mean it.

    And the Gashleycrumb Tinies is one of the few poems I have ever memorized. My coworker John once posted me struck with an axe in our office…

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