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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Tutela Valui and "Adjectives in Past Tense"

 
Another example of an odd Latin tattoo. A certain Ashley Dupre, Governor Spitzer's acquaintance, bears it on her belly:

Tutela Valui

An article in NY Daily News quotes several translations, including what I think is the most fair and grammatically meaningful:

Daniel Nodes, a classics professor at Ave Maria University in Florida, translated it as "I've been well and remain that way because I have protection."

An odd saying, if you ask me. Maybe the happy owner of the belly that features this tattoo could elaborate on its meaning? The world is holding its breath. It has been my observation that is such cases things can be clarified very easily once you know the English phrase people were trying to translate and the exact Latin dictionary that they used in their failed attempt to produce a meaningful phrase in Latin. On the whole, this is a worthy enterprise. Just don't use these translations for tattoos and engravings!

What's more interesting, Helen Kennedy, a staff writer at Daily News gave her readers a taste of how erudite modern journalism can be:

Tutela, which is related to tutor, has to do with a protector or guardian. Valui appears to be a past form of the word strong.

I admit, there may be languages somewhere that conjugate adjectives in the past sense. You would use one form to say 'strong' in a present tense statement, and an altogether different form to say 'strong' in a past tense sentence. It is more likely, however, that the Daily News journalist has a very poor understanding of some basic principles of grammar. And that's ok, folks. As long as she does not tattoo statements like that on her belly.

For the curious. Valui is Perfect active of the verb valeo 'to be strong.' Tutela means care, support, protection, and also guardian and keeper. The key to understanding this phrase (as long as it was translated by someone who has at least some knowledge of Latin) is to take Tutela as an Ablative.

A word of advice to people who are visible in the world of politics and entertainment. Before you commit to a specific tattoo, why not try a fake one first? Have the media pick it up. If no expressions of utter bewilderment follow, go ahead and make it permanent.


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