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Re: Latin Phrases on exit

From: Arthur A. Gleckler
Subject: Re: Latin Phrases on exit
Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2023 11:04:36 -0800

On Thu, Feb 16, 2023 at 8:21 AM Patrick Heil <> wrote:
My name is Patrick. I'm a college student who worked with the MIT Scheme Interpreter in a Comparative Programming Languages course. I noticed the interpreter would exit with latin phrases such as "Fortitudine vincimus." I wanted to learn more about these phrases and their meaning but couldn't find any reference to them in the user manual or online (only translations of the phrase from other sources).I assume the "Fortitudine vincimus." is a joke about the (alleged) tediousness of the Scheme programming language. 

Does anyone know anything about the background for these messages? Were they added in the original MIT Scheme interpreter or added later by the GNU devs? 

Originally, there was just one Latin message: moriturus te saluto: "I who am about to die salute you."  It was added by Guillermo Rozas in reference to the phrase morituri te saltamus, "we who are about to die salute you," shouted to the Roman emperor by gladiators before they began to fight in an arena (Wikipedia).  The idea is that the Scheme process, singular, salutes the user before dying.  Much later, there was debate over the correctness of the conversion from third person to first person: bug report.  We changed the verb ending, but I'm still not sure whether that was necessary.

Years after the original message was added, new maintainers removed it, then added it back with other messages, chosen randomly.  You can find them all in the sources.  Here are the Latin ones, with translations:

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.
However, I think that Carthage should be destroyed.
Fortitudine vincimus.
By endurance, we conquer.
Post proelium, praemium.
After the battle, the reward.
Pulvis et umbra sumus.
We are dust and shadow.

There's also "Happy happy joy joy!", from The Ren & Stimpy Show, and "..#]^@^@^@ NO CARRIER", the text often displayed when a dial-up modem disconnects. (MIT Scheme was begun in the 1980s, when one connected to the internet over dial-up modems and phone lines, often at 1200 bits per second.)

Thanks for asking. This was a fun bit of history to write up.

P.S.: Scheme is the opposite of tedious. (Others may differ, but I would award that moniker to C++ or Java.)

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