The Definitive Latin Translation of “Baby Shark”

By a Woman with Small Children and a PhD in Classics

Art by Sarah Scullin, after the Lod Mosaic and Pinkfong, with assistance from Isaac Nethercut.

A note on vocabulary: until the 16th century, there was no fixed term for the class of animal known today as “shark.” Prior to Linnaeus, these fanged sea beasts were commonly referred to, if at all, as “sea dogs,” or merely “monster.” Faced with thirteen taxonomic orders of sharks, each with its own Latinate classification, I have chosen the Lat. “squalus” both for metrical and lexical reasons (this order includes the modern dogfish sharks, thereby maintaining some continuity of meaning).

I have opted for the diminutive in my rendering of “baby,” as the technical infans lacks the cuddly association of Eng. “baby” and, furthermore, implies that adult sharks have the power of speech despite the fact that scholarly consensus (pace Pixar) clearly holds that sharks cannot talk.

To my knowledge, and after conducting an extensive search on Altavista, I have concluded that the Romans did not commonly use informal terms to address maternal or paternal units, of any generational remove. See my forthcoming article on Eidolon about the degree to which this lack of informality proves definitively that ancient Roman children were more respectful than modern millennials. They probably didn’t text so much, either.

I am grateful to Reader #1 for pointing out my inconsistent use of “v” for “u,” but ultimately decided to go for the joke anyway. Reader #2’s assertion that my translation lacks “proper” citation strikes me as out of touch with the idioms of online publishing and, more alarmingly, represents an inability on their part to recognize the nuanced contours of satire and mockery.

To be sung to the tune of “Baby Shark,” well-known children’s song and, as of today, #32 on the Billboard Music Chart.

Squalulus dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalulus dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalulus dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalulus

Squala Mater dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squala Mater dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squala Mater dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squala Mater

Squalus Pater dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalus Pater dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalus Pater dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalus Pater

Squal’avia dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squal’avia dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squal’avia dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squal’avia

Squalus Avus dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalus Avus dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalus Avus dv dv dv dv dv dv
Squalus Avus

Venemur dv dv dv dv dv dv
Venemur dv dv dv dv dv dv
Venemur dv dv dv dv dv dv
Venemur

Fugite dv dv dv dv dv dv
Fugite dv dv dv dv dv dv
Fugite dv dv dv dv dv dv
Fugite

Integri dv dv dv dv dv dv
Integri dv dv dv dv dv dv
Integri dv dv dv dv dv dv
Integri

Finit’est dv dv dv dv dv dv
Finit’est dv dv dv dv dv dv
Finit’est dv dv dv dv dv dv
Finit’est

Sarah Scullin has a PhD in Classical Studies (The University of Pennsylvania, 2012) and is Managing Editor for Eidolon Classics Journal. Not to brag, but she knows all the words to Baby Shark by heart.