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Latin Language StackExchange, now that it has graduated out of Beta state and is a full member of the StackExchange network, may eventually become eligible for a custom design in place of the generic site design that we currently see and that Latin SE shares with many other sub-sites. It is my understanding that the Stack Exchange company does this at their discretion when they have the time and resources. They have been known to seek and incorporate input from users for this.

Judging from what can be seen on sites that already have their custom design, it seems that the design mostly affects the header (with the site name), the background of the left navigation area, the footer, and text fonts and colours. One also has to provide for error pages, like the Page not found message.

Latin as a language does not have a pre-determined “look.” Also, it is not exclusively associated with one particular cultural setting. The are the ancient Romans, of course, but also scholastic philosophers, medieval chroniclers, the enlightenment, the scientific revolution. And even the ancient Romans are visually diverse, from temple columns to mosaics. Also, this website is not exclusively about Latin; it features questions about Greek and occasionally other ancient languages as well.

Suppose that we were approached by Stack Exchange regarding ideas for a site design, what themes would you favour, and what would be your design ideas?

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I would like a key design element to be a column, for a couple of reasons:

  • Columns of the type found in ancient Roman and Greek temples is easily identified and points ancient Roman or Greek culture in many minds. As we do cover ancient Greek as well, having the design signal both of them in one go is nice.

  • I think a column symbolizes the significance of Latin well: It is one of the pillars on which much of our modern world rests.

  • A column is easy to integrate in a design. A single column fills a thin and tall space, but a column within the facade of a public building or a larger scene works with other shapes or a background.

  • Columns are not an uncommon element in later European architecture (in e.g. churches), so as a design theme it has some relevance for much of Latin's history.

I'm not saying that the main logo should be a single column, but that a column would be a good choice for a pivotal design element. For example (and only an example), here's a quick draft I did years ago when the topic came up in our chat:

A temple

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Some language sites have themes related to the most distinctive aspects of their writing systems. For example, https://spanish.stackexchange.com has ¡! and ñ.

While Latin doesn't have anything quite so distinctive, one orthographic feature associated with Latin is monumental capitals, as in "VNVS NAVTA".

Another orthographic feature associated with both Latin and Greek pedagogy is the use of macrons and breves to mark vowel or syllable lengths, as in "linguă Lătīnă" or "Lătīnē".

I don't have specific ideas for how these elements could be incorporated into a visually appealing custom theme.

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    Perhaps the title of the site should look like an inscription? At the very least our name "Latin Language" could be written as "LATIN LANGVAGE", and we could probably go with a more lapidary font and an interpunct.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Jan 5, 2023 at 16:47
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    LINGVA LATINA would be my vote, if we're incorporating that.
    – cmw Mod
    Jan 6, 2023 at 18:22
  • @cmw I assume SE wants to hold on to an English title, given that the working language of the site is English, but that shouldn't mean that we couldn't have both. I wouldn't mind "LINGVA LATINA · LATIN LANGVAGE".
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Jan 7, 2023 at 16:47
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I'd prefer it closer to how the Judaism site does it. On the one side is Hebrew, on the other is an Anglicized transliteration. (But nowhere is the English!) I don't really want to see LANGVAGE, although I'm not opposed to it outright. Just feels wrong.
    – cmw Mod
    Jan 7, 2023 at 16:53
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The guidance here could come from the cover-pictures featured on contemporary-language text books. One snap-shot cannot convey all the potential "cultural settings" of that country; just a quintessential image; an inevitable association: e.g. a French-language book--you've guessed it--the Eiffel Tower; Dutch--a windmill, a field of tulips; Russian--Red Square (Nicholas-Brown's book); Italian--the Colosseum; Spanish--Flamenco dancers, boxes of oranges (Juan Kattan-Ibarra's book); Hindi--a tablah-wallah with sitar.

For a Latin site, with a nod to the Italian equivalent, perhaps the Colosseum as it was when in full vigour; Hadrian's Wall, in the 2nd. Century; Cicero, mentioned in CHAT, yesterday; a phalanx of Roman soldiers--not everybody's cup-of-tea--but for good or ill--these are quintessential Roman images: the society which spawned the Latin language.

A valid point you made: it's not just a Latin site. If you simply wish to portray the ancient world then, I guess, we're stuck with the gleaming, white columns and temples beloved of Hollywood movies; the Roman/ Greek gods and things like that. Let's see what others think.

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  • The SPQR banner with eagles seems to be a very common symbol for Rome and Latin.
    – cmw Mod
    Jan 6, 2023 at 18:22
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One of the best known Latin phrases is senatus populusque Romanus (the Roman senate and people), abbreviated to SPQR. I suggest using a variation of this (if not this exact phrase):

SERMO POPVLVSQVE ROMANVS

This (the Roman language and people) is a simple play on words that tells that we focus more on the language of the Romans than their politics.

This text could go on the facade of a temple somewhere in the background art, like the famous temple of Saturn but simplified to just the one line:

Senatus populusque Romanus / incendio consumptum restituit

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