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Gladiator - A Linguistic Anachronism
When Maximus' son sees the soldiers, he cries "I soldati!" (Italian for The soldiers!). However, nobody spoke Italian in the time frame of the movie. Latin, or possibly Spanish, would be the most likely languages spoken in.
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Rated 3.9/10 (59 ratings) Your opinion?
Contributed By: Steve Crow on 12-04-2000 and Reviewed By: Webmaster
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Melandry writes:
OK, so you're all b*tching about how no one spoke Italian in ancient Rome, but then you suggest Spanish as a reasonable alternative?????? I've got news for you, Spanish is also a Romance language derived from Latin. There was no Spanish in ancient Roman times, either, just like there was no Italian. If you're going to pretend to be linguistics experts, you'll have to try a bit harder than that.
12 of 17 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Steve Crow writes:
Thanks for the support, Sean and Ron. :) Yes, I knew that "soldati" was not Latin for "soldier". Would it have killed them to figure out that folks didn't speak Italian in Italy in that time period, and looked up the word "milites" for "soldier"? Granted, most movies mangle translation anyway (in Star Trek, with the Universal Translator, why do we sometimes here Klingons speaking English, and sometimes we get characters speaking Klingon with subcaptions?). This is just another example of them mixing the "automatic translation" of the Romans speaking "our" English, and trying to throw in a few supposedly "authentic" words for versimilitude. At least they could have got the authentic words in a language that existed at the time.
5 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
stoner_ang writes:
If you notice, this kid is the same one who plays Roberto Begnini's son in "Life is Beautiful" He is actually Italian, the line was probably an ad-lib that the directors didn't think to hard about and left in because they thought it was cute.
4 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Lizzie writes:
If Maximus's son was Spanish, why was he speaking Italian in the first place?
3 of 3 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
I think this is a valid point. If they want added authenticity by having a character speak in the language of that place and time, they should get it right. Good catch.
2 of 2 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Ron Spiegelhalter writes:
Nope, this one is a good one. Il soldati is definitely Italian, not Latin. Latin for soldier is "Milites." Italian didn't even exist at that time in history.
4 of 6 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Megan writes:
In case anyone didn't notice, the whole movie was done in English which wasn't even around in ancient Rome. True, this Italian was not around in ancient Rome, either, but would you rather have them do the movie in Latin? I guess it is a slip-up, sort of, but I wouldn't count it as one.
3 of 4 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Devil Ed writes:
About Maximus speaking Spanish ... that language didn't exist at the time either .. what is now Spanish is a cross between Latin and the language spoken by the Moors (a precursor to Arabic). Just like French is a cross between Latin and Gallic, and early English was a cross between Latin and Germanic. The Roman Empire left some big footprints on Europe. But the slip-up is genuine.
4 of 7 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Swiss Tony writes:
"French is a cross between Latin and Gallic, and early English was a cross between Latin and Germanic". Are you mad? Gallic was a Celtic language that left no discernible trace on early or modern French. French is essentially a Romance language which has been influenced by Frankish, a Germanic language, hence the prefixes -ard (as in conard) and the vowel sound -oe- (as in soeur). Early English was a purely Germanic language originating in what is now northern Germany, Denmark and the Frisian islands. In fact, there was no single English language, but distinct dialects such as Northern, Midlands and Kentish. Modern English has retained the basic grammar and vocabulary of Old English - the 100 most common words are all Germanic in orgin - and has been influenced by Norse (Viking invasions), Norman French (1066 and all that - left a big mark on the language), Latin and Greek (ecclesiastical and scientific works). Quite what this has to do with Gladiator I don't know.
3 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Foamy One writes:
Now come on that is getting silly. If you really want to get going on the language front why don't we start criticizing them for using word-perfect modern English?
2 of 4 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Master Pingüinô writes:
Particlehead is right, don't be so stupid please, I mean, if you're really Gladiator fans you should now this. Gluteus was supposed to invent the Italian language while he was at home with his son, Don Vito Corleone. Mr Scott said that he wanted to put some more real facts in the movie, also he wanted to show Gluteus' familiy life and his relation with Don Corleone so viewers could get more in touch with him and his story. Unfortunately we won't be able to watch that part, but I've heard some rumors about "Gladiator 2: La Mafia dil Gladiatore" showing all that we lost in the first one, with a special cameo appearance by Roberto Benigni and Ricky Martin as the emperor...
2 of 4 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
IceFire writes:
I am a real Gladiator fan. I see no place where it shows Maximus teaching his son Italian. I've seen the parts they took out, and I've watched the movie many times.
0 of 0 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
JJJ writes:
What Steve doesn't know is, is that the Italian language originates from latin. So it's very plausible that il soldati means soldiers in both italian and latin.
1 of 3 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
Particlehead writes:
Jeez, didn't you guys know about how Maximus (who's real first name was of course Gluteus) invented the Italian language while at home with his son? See, they had to cut that scene from the final edit...
2 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
WallyMaster writes:
Hey, the Moors didn't contribute to Spanish until well after the Roman empire collapsed. Original Spanish is Latin and Spanish tribal languages, the Moors didn't add to Spanish until their conquest of Spain some centuries later
1 of 3 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
caracicatriz writes:
Keep in mind that around that time, the Roman soldiers stationed in Hispania spoke Vulgar Latin, not flawless textbook Latin. Spanish was spoken before Roman invasions, however, it was different than Spanish has it is today obviously. "Modern" Spanish culminated around 600 (minus the signifigant Arabic contributions). It's very probable that the character that is spoken of (I forgot his name, Maximus?) married a Spanish woman....thus his household was multi-lingual. So it's likely that his son used atleast pieces of Latin and Spanish. Contrary to popular belief, the whole Iberian peninsula did not automatically begin speaking Latin upon the first Roman invasion. Nevertheless, I'd chalk this as a slip up that only linguistic majors and a hand full of us nerds would notice.
0 of 3 found this helpful. Did you? Yes
ChunkyButt223 writes:
Since Max was a Spaniard most likely his kid would speak Spanish. So its a good slip up.
0 of 5 found this helpful. Did you? Yes

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