Latin translation comes to Facebook
by Caroline McCarthy
So just how do you say "poke" in Latin? It's "puncti," according to Facebook's newest language translation. The supposedly "dead" language--O.K., so the Others on "Lost" speak it sometimes --debuted as an official translation on the social network on Friday.
"Latin has joined the more than 70 languages we've made available on the site in the past two years, including some which have launched just today--Azeri, Faroese, Georgian and Nepali," a post on the company blog by Facebook's Elizabeth Linder read. "Some of these are languages that millions of people speak across the globe. Others are dialects that specific communities use in select geographic areas. Still others are just for fun: 'Pirate' may not appeal to everyone, but for those nostalgic for the days of Blackbeard and Captain Hook, it's there for you."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg notably studied both ancient Greek and Latin in high school; interviews have said that when he enrolled at Harvard, which he ended up dropping out of to run Facebook full-time, he considered studying classics rather than computer science.
Most of Facebook's translations have been "crowdsourced" by users. Latin was a volunteer effort, too, according to the blog post, which must have been quite the operation considering the likes of Cicero and Ovid probably didn't use the term "news feed" colloquially.
"To students of Latin, the availability of the language on Facebook may be just what's needed to narrow the distance between themselves and the venerable language," Linder's post wrote. "While students of 'living languages' practice on subtitled films and in conversation groups, on vacations and with exchange students, Latin scholars soak in rare living breaths of their studied language, satisfying themselves with the occasional legal phrase, nursery plant, benediction or school motto."
Conveniently, that ubiquitous Facebook term "status" is the same in English and in Latin.