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Latin/Beware Google "Translations"!


Hello Michael,

By and large, every Christian knows the meaning of "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum". Even so, I poked around to see if there were any however small variations in the translation and which variations might be significant.

I only found one, and it surprised me. That place was
Google translate--which, I grant, has yet to reach the status of "authoritative"; still, it did turn up something interesting, and so I'm now trying to find if there is anything in that, in turn.

If you type the phrase into Google translate, it comes up as

"Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews?"

-question mark!!!

I wonder if you find that as interesting a slant as I do--but, more importantly if (and if so, why) you think the question mark might be legitimate.


Beware of internet "translation machines," which produce only phony Latin.  No one has designed a computer program that comes even close to an accurate translation of an inflected language like Latin.  Also beware of "internet searches" that purport to translate Latin.  Most of the translations are given by people who are guessing, without having any certain knowledge of Latin grammar.  There is a big difference between "canis mordet virum" (dog bites man) and "canem mordet vir" (man bites dog).  No "translation machine" is likely to get that right.  In fact, one of the leading "translation machines" got "hominem mordet canis" entirely backwards!

For example, this is the gibberish into which one well-known prominent "translation machine" [Google] renders the first sentence of Livy's great History of Rome:  "The task I well know, from the very beginning of writing of the Roman people in the capital, nor, if I did know, I would dare to say, for he is now with the old as well as a common practice, as long as I know that he will always be something more certain, or writers, or in the case of the rudeness of antiquity overcome the believe."

I have no idea why the question-mark was inserted.  There is nothing in the Latin phase that implies a question.  Perhaps Google is just letting you know that it is uncertain of its own "translation"!


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Ph.D. Cand. in Classical Languages. Conversant with all forms of the language: classical, mediaeval, and modern.


I have 50 years of teaching at all levels of Latin from high school through university postgraduate. I read, write, and speak Latin daily.

American Classical League, American Philological Association

A.B., M.A., Ph.D. Cand. in Classics.

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