Latin Quotes, Sayings, Tattoos, Phrases & Mottos

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.


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Latin quote from 'Braveheart': Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium, sed ego sum homo indomitus

 
Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 15:53 - Bad Latin Quote Alerts, Latin Translation
Posted by Administrator
Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium, sed ego sum homo indomitus
Supposed to mean "I never tell a lie, but I am a savage."

I have seen Braveheart only once a long time ago, so I have no idea at what point in the movie this phrase comes up and in what context. It does, however, seem to be not so good Latin. Which is a shame, because there is no doubt that some people found this quote appealing and as a result chose to feature it on their skin (off all places!).

Some reasons that should make it clear why the Latin is substandard.

1. Pronunciare is an infinitive. Why the infinitive was chosen is beyond me, especially because a standard form found in Latin dictionaries (pronuncio, 1st sing, Present Active) would have looked a lot more plausible. There is no reason here for Historic Infinitive and I just cannot think of any other explanation other that someone's attempt to translate into Latin something like "I am not to tell lies."

2. Nowhere in Latin literature, both Classical and Medieval, the words pronuncio mendacium can be found. This expression simply was never used by anyone, even though it is quite understandable to anyone who spent some time learning Latin.

3. Nowhere in Latin literature the words "homo indomitus" can be found. This is clearly a made-up way of locution that has no precedents.

4. The word order in the second half of the quote seems unnatural. The "Ego" is also quite redundant.

This post is a part of my "bad Latin quote alert" efforts. Unless you find confirmation from a Latinist much better than yours truly, please only use the quote in question with full knowledge of its erroneous nature.


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