Dog Latin

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Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus,[1] refers to the creation of a phrase or jargon in imitation of Latin,[2] often by "translating" English words (or those of other languages) into Latin by conjugating or declining them as if they were Latin words. Unlike the similarly named language game Pig Latin (a form of playful spoken code), Dog Latin is more of a humorous device for invoking scholarly seriousness. Sometimes "dog Latin" can mean a poor-quality genuine attempt at writing Latin.[3]

More often, correct Latin is mixed with English words for humorous effect or in an attempt to update Latin by providing words for modern items.


A once-common schoolboy doggerel which, though very poor Latin, would have done a tolerable job of reinforcing the rhythms of Latin hexameters:

Patres conscripti took a boat, and went to Philippi;
Boatum est upsettum, magno cum grandine venti.
Omnes drownderunt qui swim away non potuerunt.
Trumpeter unus erat, qui coatum scarlet habebat;
Et magnum periwig, tied about with the tail of a dead pig.[4]

The meter uses Latin vowel quantities for the Latin parts, and to some extent follows English stress in the English parts.

Another variant has similar lines in a different order, with the following variants:

Stormum surgebat et boatum oversetebat
Excipe John Periwig tied up to the tail of a dead pig.[5]

Another verse in similar vein is[citation needed]

Caesar ad sum jam forti
Brutus et erat
Caesar sic in omnibus
Brutus sic in at

which, when read aloud using common English-speaking pronunciations, sounds like the following:

Caesar had some jam for tea
Brutus ate a rat
Caesar sick in omnibus
Brutus sick in 'at (hat)

but which actually means

Caesar I am already present for the strong one
Brutus was also
Caesar thus in all things
Brutus thus in, but

The following spoof of legal Latin, in the fictional case of Daniel v Dishclout (from George Alexander Stevens' "Lecture on Heads", 1765),[6] describes a kitchen:

camera necessaria pro usus cookare, cum saucepannis, stewpannis, scullero, dressero, coalholo, stovis, smoak-jacko; pro roastandum, boilandum, fryandum, et plumpudding mixandum, pro turtle soupos, calve's-head-hashibus, cum calipee et calepashibus.[7]

Dog Latin is featured in the dialogues of Cranly, a student in James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. When asked the question "Have you signed?" Cranly answers "Ego habeo," apparently using habeo as if it were a translation of the English auxiliary verb "have". He also makes remarks such as "Credo ut vos sanguinarius mendax estis, quia facies vostra monstrat ut vos in damno malo humore estis," This is a word-for-word "translation" of his intended speech: "I think that you are a bloody liar, because your face shows that you are in damn bad humor." Adding to the effect, he mixes up the singular "you are" and "your" with the plural vos ... estis and vostra, among other pseudo-Latin constructs.

Further examples[edit]

  • HoboSapiens, a John Cale album
  • Homo Consumericus, a concept in social science
  • Homo Obesus and Homo sedentarius, sardonic concepts in nutritional sciences and anthropology
  • Illegitimi non carborundum, dog Latin for "Don't let the bastards grind you down"
  • Mater si, magistra no, a macaronic mashup of Mater et magistra and Cuba si, Castro no
  • Reductio ad Hitlerum, a dog Latin phrase
  • Smugglerius, a dog Latin name for a cast of a smuggler's body posed as a dying gladiator
  • Mots d'Heures, a book of verses in cod-French[clarification needed]
  • Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner, two Looney Tunes characters, are given various dog Latin Linnaean taxonomical names at the beginning of most of their cartoons, except for The Whizzard of Ow
  • Syllabi, a hypercorrection of the Greek σίλλυβος or σίττυβος sillybos/sittybos "parchment label, table of contents"
  • dorkus malorkus, an insult spoken by Bart Simpson
  • semper ubi sub ubi, A common English-Dog Latin translation joke. The phrase is nonsensical in Latin, but the English translation is a pun on "always wear underwear".
  • gustatus similis pullus, English-Dog Latin translation that purports to mean "tastes like chicken."
  • "Marcus Pincus Fuktus", Tagline of a joke relating to two men leaving a clothing store.
  • "O sibili si ergo, fortibuses inero. O nobili, demis trux, watisenim, cowsendux", Dog Latin poem - "Oh see Billy, See her go, forty buses in a row. Oh, no, Billy, them is trucks. What is in them? Cows and Ducks.
  • "Ave bossa nova, similis bossa seneca" is Sir Terry Pratchett's Latatian version of "Hail to the new boss, same as the old boss" and is a trilingual pun besides.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Canis Latinicus - Television Tropes and Idioms
  2. ^ Dog-Latin,
  3. ^ OED s.v. "dog," compounds C3a
  4. ^ Notes and Queries. October 13, 1855. Retrieved January 16, 2010.  Insofar as this specimen can be translated, it is as follows: "The conscript fathers (i.e. Senators) took a boat and went to Philippi. The boat was upset by a great hailstorm of wind. All drowned who could not swim away. There was a trumpeter, who had a scarlet coat, and a great periwig, tied about with the tail of a dead pig.
  5. ^ Percival Leigh (1840). The comic Latin grammar. Retrieved January 16, 2010.  The meaning here is "The storm rose up and overturned the boat" and "Except for John Periwig", etc.
  6. ^ [1], Google Books, retrieved November 2, 2009
  7. ^ "A necessary room for the purpose of cooking, with saucepans, stewpans, scullery, dresser, coalhole, stoves, smoke-jack; for roasting, boiling, frying, and mixing plum pudding, for turtle soups, calves'-head hashes, with calipee and calipashes."