The meaning of ‘Terra es, terram ibis’ in English

operaSup doods?

Here is a bit of Latin for you on a Monday morning. I always assumed that

Terra es, terram ibis

itself a shortening for :

Terra es et in terram ibis

and translated as

“You are earth and to the earth you will return” or “Dust you are and dust you will be”

although literally meaning “you are earth and into (the) earth you will go”, came from the Vulgate (the Latin bible).

I looked online and discovered that it came from Genesis (3:19) (powerful stuff), or so the entire internet told me.

I don’t trust the internet, and I have a copy of the vulgate, so I checked.

Genesis 3:19 is actually written:

… quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Well, the sense is the same, but  ‘terra es et in terram ibis’ is most definitely a newer and more catchy version.

In case you are wondering:

pulvis: dust, powder

revertere: to revert.

By the way,

Terra es, terram ibis

is not only a shortening but grammatically incorrect (if such things bother your inner pedant).


is the accusative form of


It is in the accusative form, as it is governed by the preposition ‘in‘  which in Latin takes the accusative when it has the meaning ‘into’.

As the evenings draw in, I’m thinking about adding more to the Latin sections on SurfaceLanguages.



A binary translator


Well, just for fun, I’ve just added a Binary Translator to Surface languages!

You can now find the binary for things like:-

I love you!

01001001 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101


01000010 01100001 01100011 01101001

And besos!

01000010 01100101 01110011 01101111 01110011

It also translates from binary to text.

Have fun!

01000010 01100001 01100011 01101001 and 01000010 01100101 01110011 01101111 01110011

01110000 01100001 01111000

01101101 01101111 01101111 01101110 01100110 01100001 01100011 01100101

Are you a translator?

Sup all?

It’s been a while.

Cutting to the chase.

Are you a translator?

If you are would you like to share any of your experiences here?

As you can see the page is empty, but I’m in the process of adding content based on my experiences of using translators (and doing some translation myself).

If you are interested (and a translator),  and want to share your experiences, drop me a line or a comment and I’ll get back to you. Obviously, you can also promote your site services rather like here, and over time (as Surfacelanguages receives a lot of visitors) it might help you. Or maybe not. Who knows?

As people can be rather cynical, I think I better say that this isn’t some ‘pay for link’ scheme but rather translation is a topic I find extremely interesting, and I’d rather have a range of views as opposed to only mine.

Um. Well, no agencies please. I’m not interested.

BTW My French is coming on nicely. I’ve tried several teachers from iTalki, and although none have been right for me, I’ve booked another lesson and am hopeful that this time I’ll hit gold. I’ll let you know how it goes next week.

Besos & baci etc.



And in other news I’ve added 500 Bulgarian sentences with audio.

Bulgarian uses the cyrillic alphabet but I’ve also included a romanised version, so for example,  Как я караш? (How are things) is transliterated as Kak ya karash?

So you don’t have to learn cyrillic to learn the sentences.

Lithuanian sentences coming soon …



My language journey and general incompetence

Sup doods?

Every month I’m been setting myself some sort of language related goal, and attempting to  reach it.

I’ve also written these down (to the right somewhere).

It turns out that it is very enlightening. Partly because I don’t often  attain these goals and partly because I dither and flit with languages.

To be fair, I’m not particularly bothered with this, as playing with language is just one hobby among others, but it is slightly galling to be constantly making the same mistakes, and showing a startling lack of self-awareness.

This year I’ve dithered with French, Afrikaans and Polish, and so it should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this, that I’ve made yet another language related decision.

I’m going to learn German and improve my French. Of course, I state this, look at my somewhat checkered past, and wonder why I bother.

The thing is that I do have a reason and eventual aim, both things that have been lacking with my language learning year to date.

I’m planning (or rather the boss is planning) to spend three weeks wandering through France, Italy and Germany in roughly two years.

I don’t speak any German and would like to reach a B2 level.

I understand French well (ish) but can’t speak more than a few words, and would like to reach a B2 level as well.

Is this possible?  I’m sure it is possible for some people, but is it possible for me. Do I have the necessary mental fortitude and general stamina.

On the plus side of things, I have a time-scale and an aim. On the negative side, I have to contend with my poor organisational skills, lack of attention to detail and inability to finish what I have started.

As to Polish, I still love you all but you’re going to have to wait your turn.

Besos & Baci,


Lithuanian and Bulgarian

Hi All,

I feel European, and am not at all pleased about how England is withdrawing into itself.

So many wasted and lost opportunities.

I can’t alter that:(

But I can add more European diversity and interest to Surface Languages:)

And so I’m going to add sentences in both Lithuanian and Bulgarian to Surface Languages over the coming few weeks/months.

Basically, as soon as I have the translations and audio. And time …

I’ll also need to muck about with some bits of code n stuff to make it work with two scripts. Bulgarian uses the cyrillic script but I also want a romanised version to make it more accessible to those of us who don’t read cyrillic.

I’m fairly sure, although I’ve not looked, that my original coding didn’t account for this.



Oh dear!


Following a referendum, it appears that the United Kingdom (my country) is leaving the EU.

I think this is a terrible mistake.  I voted to stay and so did many of my friends. But there is nothing I can do about this. We are leaving, and in part (it seems) through fear of differences and immigration and a yearning for a mythical past that never existed.

I don’t like the hostility that the referendum has stirred up. It makes me sad, and worry about the future direction of my country.

I’m no politician. I don’t have any answers, but one thing I know is that  communication helps. If you speak a few words of someones language, it is much easier to identify with them.

So, to help celebrate the linguistic and cultural diversity that we have in the UK (for the moment),  I’m going to add sentences in one of the lesser spoken languages of the EU over the coming month or so.

I’m leaning towards either Bulgarian of Lithuanian.



I’m in a quandary with my Afrikaans

I’ve just been to the Balearics (and I visit frequently-ish) and the languages I heard were Spanish, Romanian, French, Catalan, Dutch, German, Italian and Polish.

The languages that I could have used in various situations if I had spoken them were Romanian, Polish, Dutch and German.

The only language I used (Spanish speaking country so not all bad) was Spanish.

And here I am learning Afrikaans.

I am in a quandary because although I’m keep talking about access to culture through reading, and that speaking isn’t always important, at the same time, there comes a point when I want to actually use a language.

The top eight most widely spoken languages (as native speakers) within the EU are more or less follow the demographics:-

Germany. 65 million

France. 60 million

UK. 60 million.

Italy. 55 million

Spain. 47 million.

Poland. 46 million

Romania. 16 million

Greece. 15 million

Netherlands. 13 million

And so what do I do? Shall I continue with Afrikaans or flit like I normally do?

My language journey (on the right) indicates a startling lack of staying power, and one of my reasons for logging it was for precisely this reason. It would or should make me think about what I’m doing – or not doing. Admittedly I’ve not up until now spent a huge amount of time on this, but I would like to make some progress.

I need to prove to myself that I can learn another language … and the two which really jump out from this list are German and Polish.

What shall I do??????



How to learn a language?

Sup doods?

I’ve finally got serious about learning to read/understand Afrikaans, and this is the language learning method which I am trying.

There are only three requisites:

Firstly: that you know a few hundred words of the language.

Secondly: you have a vague idea of the grammar or how the language hangs together.

Thirdly: you have a high tolerance of uncertainty.

Assuming you satisfy these  somewhat arbitrary requisites then you are ready to start.

Find a book that you want to read (in your target language), and its associated audiobook. I chose Kobra by Deon Meyer because I’ve enjoyed some of his other books in English.

Each day you listen to and read a set number of pages. The audio book that I bought is split into about sixty sections, and each day I listen to one and at the same time read the associated pages.

Naturally, I don’t understand much at the moment, and obviously if I look every word up in a dictionary the process would take forever.

So what do I do?

I’m only allowed (I treat this like a game) to look up words that I have learnt previously and then forgotten. This isn’t as stupid as it sounds.

I’m using memrise to learn words, and each day learn or begin to learn around twenty new Afrikaans words. Some of these words I remember immediately, and others not at all, but later when I see them in the book, I tend to know that I have tried to learn them previously, and then (and only then) I allow myself to look them up.

This is a surprisingly effective process. It is only when I see a word being used in a phrase that it starts to sink in, regardless as to the strength of my memory according to Memrise.

I am using the Memrise App constantly in spare moments, for example I learnt seven new words (which I have now forgotten) when eating toast (with marmalade) this morning. It is probable that I will remember one or two of them when I read tonight, and recognise one or two others.

Grammar. If you want to learn a language when reading, it is helpful  to try to recognise patterns within the language, and without a basic knowledge or outline of the grammar this is difficult. Afrikaans grammar is in general not complicated for English speakers, and understanding the structure of  Afrikaans sentences has in the main been straight-forward.

I’m just playing around with this, but if it works, and once I can read Afrikaans, I’ll return to Polish (which is unfinished business for me)  with vigour sometime later in the year.





Afrikaans. Other languages and Memrise

I want to be able to read Afrikaans, which means acquiring words and lots of them.

As part of this I’ve been listening to the Afrikaans sentences on Surface languages, and understanding them in groups of ten. I say understanding, as I’m only trying to read and maybe listen to the radio depending on how far I get. I’m trying to recognise, rather than reproduce the language.

As I started doing this,  it jumped out at me was that there was no way to test yourself on all the sentences  learnt. To think is to program.  I’ve now fixed this for Afrikaans and the other relevant languages.

It is now possible to learn sentences in groups of ten, and then test yourself on all the sentences learnt up until that point.

The next thing that has now jumped out at me (as it were), is that I need to improve the method of learning sentences.


I’ve also been using memrise to help me learn enough words to read Kobra with more success. Its handy and its free, and I have apparently learnt 370 words or thereabouts over the last week.  I have discovered that words only start to stick when I’ve also seen them in another context outside the memrise app, in this case in the book I am reading.