Friday, October 10, 2008

From the Tweet and Rein*Hagen Academy of Latin

"Bios Ex Nihilum, latin for 'Life From Nothing'"

No, it isn't. Bios isn't even Latin, and the Latin phrase for "from nothing" -- a fairly common phrase because it comes up in theological discussions of creation -- is ex nihilo.

Game designers: the fact that you have a dictionary of a language doesn't mean you can construct actual meaningful phrases in that language, especially if it's a highly inflected language.

Googling around I find that there's a World of Warcraft guild called "Ex Nihilum," and the phrase occurs in the lyrics of a song by noted Latin scholars Gorguts, who also seem to have studied at the Tweet and Rein*Hagen Academy of Latin...

Nihil appears in Latin in two forms, the indeclinable, and a second declension neuter form nihilum. The latter can only appear in the ablative case (nihilo) after the preposition ex.

You want to put Latin in your game and all you've got is a dictionary, or vague, half-remembered High School Latin? Give me a call, I'll do my best to help.


Ewen said...

This is about how I feel most every time game designers try to do anything with Japanese.

Nick Novitski said...

I don't know Japanese.

However, in a comic published about six years ago, when I read a character being introduced as "Tora no Shi, the Tiger of Death," my eyes watered.

I mean, if you have an English-Japanese dictionary, and it cost you more than three dollars, and you read the entry for "no" past the first word, it must tell you that the word order is inverted from that of English's "of."

But if none of that happens, you write a comic with a villain named "Death of Tigers." Though to be fair, "Tiger of Death" is just as idiotic.

But "Nihilum," with it's manly mouth-closing hum-growl finish, sounds way cooler than "Nihilo." Especially if you mispronounce it NIE-hill-um.

Adam Black said...

This is why I always come to you with my Latin questions.

You are Der Ubermensch.