I don't, as I think I've said before (and probably at length), speak Latin. People believe that, as an archaeologist with some classical leanings that I ought to. Well I don't. Throw me a Roman inscription (well, pass me one with care so that I don't drop it and break a toe) and I'll make a passable stab at translating it, but that's a completely different ollam piscium. Inscriptions follow a set formula and they're (relatively) easy to disentangle and make sense of. Big swathes of Latin text: now that's far more tricky.
For some reason people confuse being a field archaeologist with being a classical scholar with a full understanding of all ancient languages. Usually that's not too much of a problem, for I can quickly (and privately) explain and diffuse the situation before anyone gets too embarrassed.
Not today, however.
No, today, in front of a (relatively) large crowd of students, ex students and parents, all gathered for a graduation ceremony, somebody innocently asked if anyone could possibly explain what the university motto, emblazoned in ten-foot high golden letters above the main podium, actually meant. In the deafening silence that followed I could feel 54 pairs of eyes swivel slowly in my direction. I knew from experience that I couldn't get to the fire exit in time nor could I suddenly fall to the floor, feigning a no doubt very painful injury. These people knew I was an archaeologist; they knew that I dig Roman remains for a living.
The words were by this time glaring down at me contemptuously - daring me to make a translation:
Discere Mutari Est
I tried to look confident and cleared my throat:
"er....Carthage Must be Destroyed"
No one was all that convinced.