T Shirt Contest Trivia

I made up some cheesy certificates to give to the winners of the TSHC contest. I was trying to come up with a catchy slogan to put at the top of the certificate, but everything I could think of was boring. But it occurred to me that boring stuff sounds cool if it's in Latin. But I don't know Latin, so I asked Guy Steele (who knows Latin) if he could come up with anything. Here's his reply:

Yeah, I studied Latin for six years. The principal difficulty is that the right word for "hurler" is "jaculator", which is uncomfortably close to English "ejaculator" (which, of course, is etymologically no coincidence). Also, if your winner is a female, it ought to be "jaculatrix", which is a legitimate Latin word for "female hurler" or "spearwoman", but thanks to the one-time co-opting of Latin for sexual euphemism, I fear that "jaculatrix" will be misinterpreted by most moderns as some sort of transgendered dominatrix or something.

How about something like "athleta tunicis fortissimus", which translates as "strongest winner of a prize with tunics"? (I figured "tunic" is about as close as we can hope to get to "T-shirt".) The word "athleta" meant "winner of a prize", which has evolved into the modern "athlete". Or, for real flavor,

ATHLETA TVNICIS FORTISSIMVS

in nice, classic, chiseled Roman lettering. (By the way, "athleta", a borrowing from Greek, is considered to be a masculine noun in Latin, despite the "-a" ending, so the "-us" ending on "fortissimus" really does match it properly. The "-is" on "tunicis" indicates the ablative case.)

(Fri Jul 01 15:49:26 PDT 2005)
Comments:

Not so cheesy, James, if that many years of Latin study and careful explanation went into the name for the award. :-) Thanks for sharing. It's an amusing etymological anecdote.

Posted by Claire Giordano on July 01, 2005 at 02:18 PM PDT #

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