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Favicon of Wikipedia Latin Wikipedia
Logo of the Latin Wikipedia
Commercial? No
Type of site Internet encyclopedia project
Registration Optional
Available language(s) Latin
Owner Wikimedia Foundation
Created by Jimmy Wales

The Latin Wikipedia (Latin: Vicipaedia Latina) is the Latin language edition of Wikipedia. As of December 2009, the Latin Wikipedia has over 34,000 articles. While all primary content is in Latin, in discussions modern languages such as English, German, Spanish or French are allowed and often used, since many users (usores) find this easier.

While some articles by beginning students contain grammatical errors, "the articles that are good are in fact very good," according to Robert Gurval, chairman of the UCLA classics department,[1] evidence that professional Latinists have observed a gradual improvement in the encyclopedia.


Users and contributors

Frequent users and contributors to Vicipaedia include with an interest in medieval and ancient cultures, those who study medieval and late scientific and legal works which were primarily written in Latin, those who work with scientific (botanical and zoological) Latin, those who want to practice Latin learnt in school, and professional philologists. Others just do it for fun.

Many also participate in the "Living Latin" movement, which encourages the learning of Latin in the same way that people learn Romance languages today: by creatively using it to communicate, both in writing and orally.

Modern vocabulary and coining policies

The Latin Wikipedia began dominated by topics from classical history, but beginning in 2006 a group of new contributors greatly expanded the coverage of 20th century topics, such as pop culture and technology.[1]

The official policy of Vicipaedia is that neologisms and user coinings aren't allowed ("Noli fingere!" Latin for "Don't coin/make up things").[2] In order to deal with concepts that did not exist in Classical or Mediaeval Latin, terms from modern Latin sources are used, such as botanical Latin, scientific Latin, 18th and 19th century Latin language encyclopedias and books, the official Vatican dictionary of modern Latin,[3] as well as current Latin newspapers and radio shows, such as Ephemeris[4] and Radio Bremen.[5]

As in any language with a broad international character, often more than one correct term exists for a given concept (just as in English a certain car part is called a "bonnet" by British speakers but a "hood" by Americans). In Latin the existence of multiple synonyms for the same thing is even more prevalent since the language has been in continuous use over a wide geographical area for over 2000 years. Sometimes the same concept is represented by different terms in classical, medieval, scientific and modern Latin. Where possible Vicipaedia adopts the oldest or classical term for the page name, with redirects from any others; major alternatives are listed in the article with footnote references. There is often lively debate among editors about shades of meaning. The practice of avoiding invented words and giving references for alternative terms agrees well with the general Wikipedia insistence on verifiability and the rule against original research.

When occasionally a term for a modern concept cannot be found, the customary practice is to do exactly what most other languages do: to borrow an international word (often from a Romance language or English). Such direct borrowing was done for the particle names photon and gluon and for the unit of temperature Kelvin. The word is given a Latin morphology if this can be done easily, or, if not, used unchanged in its foreign form; but many international words already have a Latin or Graeco-Latin appearance, because Greek and Latin have always served as sources of new scientific terminology.


Vicipaedia has adopted the modern late 20th century orthographical system which distinguishes u from v (both pronounced as u/w in classical Latin) but does not distinguish i and i-consonant, treating the j as a foreign letter. Although this orthographical practice is the most widespread in modern Latin literature, it is not without passionate detractors. The rationale behind this policy is that there are two primary linguistic communities in which Latin is spoken today: secular academics and the Roman Catholic Church. Both do not distinguish strongly between the i and the i-consonant/j in writing. On the other hand, there are differences that justify the inclusion of the v. Academics generally seek to emulate classical pronunciations used by the Romans themselves which do not strongly distinguish the u-vowel from the u-consonant/v. However, in the pronunciation system used by the Catholic Church, the v is pronounced as an English v.

Another policy that has some detractors is that of not regularly using accents of various kinds to indicate the length of long vowels. Accents, however, are encouraged if an ambiguity would result by not indicating the length of the vowel. In part, this policy exists because many keyboards do not support easily adding accents. Another reason is that, among those who use accents, there are at least three distinct methods of indicating accents. Thus the Vicipaedia policy has the benefit of avoiding the visual clash of different accenting schemes being used by different users.

The logo on the Vicipaedia main page reads "VICIPÆDIA", displaying a ligature "æ". However, in accordance with modern practice, Vicipaedia does not use ligatures in its articles for the diphthongs written ae ("Æ", "æ") and oe ("Œ", "œ"). In Latin, such ligatures are not pronounced any differently from the unligatured diphthongs and they were only adopted by the Romans, as medieval and late Latin typographers for decorative purposes and to save space. If users prefer, however, they can activate a gadget under user preferences that automatically displays the diphthongs as ligatures on the pages.


External links

Latin Wikipedia edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|Logo of the Latin Wikipedia.]] The Latin Wikipedia (In Latin: Vicipaedia or Vicipaedia Latina) is the Latin language edition of Wikipedia. Started in May 2002, this edition has over 30,000 articles (in September 2009).[1]

Vicipaedia is the largest Wikipedia in a dead language, (a language that is no longer anyone's mother tongue). There are several reasons why people continue to use Latin. Students learn it in schools and universities because of its influence on culture and science, especially in Europe. People still read Latin classics such as the poems of Virgil, the memoirs of Caesar and the speeches of Cicero. Also, Latin is widely used as an international auxiliary language, notably in the Catholic Church, and by biologists when describing and naming new species.


  1. Specialis:Census (from the Latin Wikipedia)

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