I’ve gotten a couple questions about the Latin I’ve chosen to use in the Angelfire series. Linguistics is very cool to me and these were my favorite courses to take in college. I’m pretty darn good with Latin and know the major differences between Classical Latin and Renaissance Latin, which was a revival of the Classical Latin language but Italianized. Our modern understanding of Classical Latin is incomplete. The fluent Latin you hear in church or in Hollywood is typically Italianized and given ecclesiastical pronunciation. I have, however, heard classical pronunciation used in movies, but at the same time, that Latin is syntactically and morphologically Renaissance Latin. Much of the biblical lore and world-building in the Angelfire series is based on Christian Renaissance literature from writers such as Milton and Dante. During one of Ellie’s flashbacks to Ancient Egypt, the demonic reaper calls Ellie “killer” instead of Preliator. Will explains that she was given a Latin title because that was an important language in the ancient world, but the Latin words used for beasties in my series weren’t commonly used among said beasties until the Renaissance period when scholarly folks were all about Latin. Anyway, I've been asked the following questions multiple times and I wanted to take a few minutes to answer them on my blog in case anyone else was curious.
"Shouldn't the Preliator be the Preliatrix, because Ellie is female?"
Yes, if you want to be technical. I chose the masculine form, because while I’m all for male/female equality, the default gender for language has been classically male and I’m okay with that for this purpose. The archangel Gabriel is also traditionally thought of as male and the Gabriel of Angelfire is female. In my fantasy world, perhaps during the Renaissance period the same people who thought Gabriel was male also created the masculine title Preliator. After all, Queen Hatshepsut was one of the greatest pharaohs to have ever reigned, but she was often depicted as wearing a ceremonial beard, dressing like a man, and pretty much being a king. There is also the theory that Queen Nefertiti, after her husband Akhenaten died, changed her name to Smenkhkare and became male in order to rule as pharaoh. Patriarchal cultures typically don’t like the idea of a woman with power and influence.
"Shouldn’t the ‘v’ in vir be pronounced as a ‘w’ so the word is spoken as ‘wir?’"
In Classical Latin, the consonant ‘v’ is pronounced with a ‘w’ sound. However, because the Latin words used in the reaper world, including the Preliator title, were created during the Renaissance, the Latin used in Angelfire is Italianized ecclesiastical Latin and the ‘v’ consonants have a ‘v’ sound like in Italian.
Also, though no one has questioned this, the word ‘vir’ is a noun that means ‘male’ in English as in gender. That makes no sense, obviously. The correct word that should be used to describe a humanoid/man reaper is ‘homo.’ I thought the word ‘vir’ sounded really cool and this is an example of one of my creative liberties.