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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British motto contest, sponsored by The Times

 
Friday, February 8, 2008, 11:09 - Popular Latin Phrases, Mottos, Slogans, State mottos
Posted by Administrator
I can't believe this one almost escaped my attention!

The article is appropriately entitled Britain Seeks Its Essence, and Finds Punch Lines.

It was a lofty idea: formulate a British statement of values defining what it means to be British, much the way a document like the Declaration of Independence sets out the ideals that help explain what it means to be American.
...
The proposal, part of a package of British-pride-bolstering measures announced by Prime Minister Gordon Browns new government over the summer, raised a host of tricky questions. What does it mean to be British? How do you express it in a country that believes self-promotion to be embarrassing? And how do you deal with a defining trait of the people you are trying to define: their habit of making fun of worthy government proposals?

Detractors spread the rumor that the government was looking not for a considered statement, but for a snappy, pithy libert, galit, fraternit-style slogan that it could plaster across government buildings in a kind of branding exercise.

Nor did it help when The Times of London cynically sponsored a British motto-writing contest for its readers.

The readers suggestions included Dipso, Fatso, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco (Asbo stands for anti-social behavior order, a law-enforcement tool, while Tesco is a ubiquitous supermarket chain); Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used; At Least Were Not French; and We Apologize for the Inconvenience. The winner, favored by 20.9 percent of the readers, was No Motto Please, Were British.


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/26/world ... motto.html
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Meaning of "Sasha"

 
Friday, February 8, 2008, 05:06 - Etymology and word roots, Latin Words - Meanings and Definitions
Posted by Administrator
Speaking of meanings... There is one area of popular etymology where results have been absolutely horrifying and disturbing. I am taking about the etymology of proper names, most often featured on numerous 'baby names' sites. It is absolutely unbelievable what these people come up with. What's worse, that not only you will be likely to find erroneous etymologies and explanations for certain names - I once found a site that claimed to have the largest collection of boys' and girl's names in existence. What they actually did was collect data from online chats around the world and then presented people's nicknames and usernames as actual proper names. This process created a mishmash of names that were wrongly attributed as originating from languages that had nothing to do with them! Also, there were a lot of 'baby names' that were made-up nicknames, quite often obscene! No doubt, some of them were rather melodious and exotic sounding... So, I would advise everyone to at least stick with the names they have heard. But as far as interpretation goes, you should probably consult with printed books, although I have seen a good amount of errors in 'baby name books', as well.

Anyway, I got thinking about all this after I saw this entry on some big-time new baby naming website:

The boy's and girl's name Sasha \s(a)-sha\ is pronounced SAH-shah. It is of Russian origin. Short form of Alexander (Greek) "man's defender". The -sha ending may not be feminine in Russia, though it is in the US.

Yes, the true origin of this name is Greek. It should probably be taken to mean 'the defender of men'. And it is entirely incorrect that Sasha cannot be feminine in Russia. It is short for Alexandra, the female version of Alexander. More importantly, the article does not attempt to explain how Alexander and Sasha can be etymologically related. I should probably clarify this. 19th century Russian literature has some examples of another short version of Alexander - Aleksasha (the Russian suffix used here is probably cognate to the German diminutive suffix '-chen'). This is were 'Sasha' comes from! And, as if things were not complicated enough, 'Sasha', in its turn, produced yet another form: Shura. This one stems from a diminutive form of 'Sasha' - 'Sashura'.

Zodiac signs meanings

 
There is a little bit of Latin to be learned from the names of the Zodiac signs. More importantly, one should not always rely upon these names as a source of meaning for the corresponding words. This goes especially for Sagittarius, Capricord and Aquarius. The traditional translations of these names is more relevant to the depictions of these constellations, rather than to the Latin words and their meanings.

1. Aries (The Ram) - a ram, a battering ram
2. Taurus (The Bull) - a bull, ox
3. Gemini (The Twins) - plural of 'geminus' 'born at the same time', twin, double, similar
4. Cancer (The Crab) -a crab, the South (because this sign of the Zodiac is found at the time of the summer solstice), cancer
5. Leo (The Lion) - a lion
6. Virgo (The Virgin) - a maid, a virgin, a young woman or girl, something pure
7. Libra (The Scale) - a pair of scales, a measure, the Roman pound, balance
8. Scorpio (The Scorpion) - a scorpion
9. Sagittarius (The Centaur) - an archer, a bowman
10. Capricorn (The Sea-goat) - caper-cornu; cf. in Gr. aigokereus, having goat's horns
11. Aquarius (The Pitcher) - relating to water, a water carrier
12. Pisces (The Fish) - plural of 'piscis' 'fish'

Esse Quam Videri: To be, rather than to seem (North Carolina State Motto)

 
Esse quam videri - To be, rather than to seem

This state motto might as well get the prize for Classical authenticity. Without trying to come up with something unique and of questionable value, North Carolinians went straight to the source of nearly everything that is good in Latin prose: Cicero. Right? Actually, the phrase is a little bit out of context: Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt ("De amicitia", 98). Cicero does not speak of being per se, he speaks about being endowed with virtue. If you are have left is "esse quam videri" it becomes rather unclear: to be what? to seem to be what?

Still, a good motto. North Carolina spent a long time coming up with it, being the only one of the original 13 states without an official motto all the way until 1893!

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