How do you say “gin” in Latin?

Pótio iunípera. Literally junipery potion.

I’ve always been fascinated by how languages add new words to their lexicon. If you are as well, here’s a couple of links you may want to check out.

This article on the Guardian, written by Andy Bodle, lists the 13 fundamental mechanisms of word creation, from derivation—the most common—to portmanteaus.

This post by James Harbeck focuses on how Lakota, a language of the Sioux family, spoken in North and South Dakota by only a few thousands speakers, fills its vocabulary gaps.

Oh, how do I know how to say “gin” in Latin? Years ago the Vatican City published a huge list of Latin neologisms. It’s in Italian, but if you install a browser extension that adds a dictionary (i.e. Google Dictionary) you will be able to double click the Italian word and see its English equivalent.

My writing workflow at WordCamp Bristol 2017

Hey everyone, I’m super excited to announce that I’ll speak at WordCamp Bristol!

In my session I’ll basically explain my writing workflow. I think it’s very important to have a clear and well defined writing routine to release content (whether blog posts or internal reports etc.) without reinventing the wheel every time, and my talk will go exactly in this direction.

Sunday 14 May 2017, at the Watershed Media Centre, 10AM—my talk is the first one of the second day.

My speaker profile
My talk’s abstract
WordCamp Bristol 2017 schedule

“The Last Jedi” is plural, and some linguistics-related explanations.

Some weeks ago Disney / Lucasfilm announced the name of Star Wars ep. VIII: The Last Jedi. The Internet went immediately bananas: Is Luke the last Jedi? After all, The Force Awakens’s opening crawl seemed to confirm that.

The Force Awakens Opening Crawl

But what if the word Jedi, in the title, was plural? There’s no Jedis in Star Wars, Jedi is both singular and plural.

I asked that myself immediately, and only one answer popped up to my mind: we need to wait for the international translations.

Why? Good question! Because agreement.

“Agreement” is a linguistic phenomenon that happens when a word changes form depending on other words to which it relates. Think of I write or Joe writes: as the English grammar requires that the present tense verb and its subject agree in person, the verb form changes accordingly.

Languages can have no conventional agreement, as in Japanese; barely any, as in English; or a moderate / fairly large amount, as in Latin and pretty much all the languages that derive from it.

Let’s take Italian, for example, since I speak it as a native. In Italian, adjectives agree in gender—making our efforts to write gender-neutral Italian much more challenging, but I’d save that for another post—and number with the noun they modify. For this very reason, the Italian translation of the title had to reveal if Jedi was singular or plural, even though the word Jedi wouldn’t have changed its form.

Gli Ultimi Jedi

Today Star Wars Italia released an image with the title of the movie in Italian, and it’s Gli Ultimi Jedi.

Star Wars The Last Jedi in Italian

It’s the official confirmation: it’s plural, and we know it because both the article gli (the) and the adjective ultimi (last) are masculine (meaning that can be a group where at least one is masculine) and plural.

Releasing international titles weeks after the original one was a rather elegant move from the marketing folks behind Star Wars. They used the lean grammar of modern standard English to their advantage (fans asking questions, debating, etc.), at the same time giving relevance to the internationalisation of the movie.