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Thread: Why "Book Of Bad Latin"?

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    Oct 2010
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    Default Why "Book Of Bad Latin"?

    I've seen Libris Mortis frequently referred to as the "Book of Bad Latin".

    So I consulted my Latin books and, yes, if the title is intended to be "Book of Death" or "Book of the Dead", then it's way off. "Libris" is the dative/ablative plural of "Liber". Which is to say, it means either "from books" or "to/for books", depending on context.

    "Mortis" is fine, it's the genitive singular of "mors", meaning "of death" or "of corpse" or "of dead" or varations on that theme.

    So, "from/to/for books of death/dead", that's a preposterously terrible translation for "book of death". Case closed, right?

    Then I was reading Libris Mortis, and noticed the sidebar under the introduction:

    Quote Originally Posted by Libris Mortis
    This book takes its name from a set of tomes penned in a dialect of Celestial by an aasimar cleric of Pelor named Acrinus, who collected the information from a variety of other sources over the course of decades. Roughly translated, it means "From the Books of Dead", though some sages claim that the current name is a bastardization of Acrinus's original title. Since he's long dead, and the dialect of Celestial is no longer used by living creatures, this is impossible to confirm.
    So. Uh. "From the Books of Dead". Turns out the title does mean precisely what it's supposed to mean. (I was slightly suspicious of the use of the ablative to mean "from" without also including "ex", but then I confirmed that no, you can omit the preposition if you use the ablative of source, so that checks out.)

    (It's also supposed to be bastardized Celestial and not really Latin at all, so that it happens to be correct Latin could easily be treated as just a happy coincidence. But that's not really as important.)

    So: Am I missing some super-advanced nuance of the Latin language? Does "bad Latin" refer to some bad Latin found within the book, rather than the title? Or is the "Book of Bad Latin" meme simply the product of people who know Latin not reading the first page of the book and the people who don't know Latin just going along with the people who do?
    Last edited by Malimar; 2011-06-22 at 03:20 PM. Reason: corrected a typo