In The Handmaid's Tale, the main character famously discovers the phrase nolite te bastardes carborundorum etched into a closet. It's actually a joke, tracing back to Atwood's Latin classes. The phrase doesn't really make any sense; it's kind of what you get when you run something through Google Translate a bunch of times. Although it couldn't be a sentence in actual Latin, if each word is translated piecemeal, it would mean don't let the bastards grind you down (nolite is "do not", te is "you", bastardes is "bastards" in the wrong case, and carborundorum is a material used in grindstones). The phrase has taken many different forms since it was first used in World War II: it has shown up in some iteration in everything from a Harvard fight song to a plaque on John Boehner's desk. More broadly, it falls into the category of Dog Latin, which is rather interesting; I suggest you check out the Wikipedia page on it.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.