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Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 7:15 pm
by Archived Topic
Hi,
A fellow member of our local Living History group recommended sending you an e-mail with regards to possible Latin translations of English mottos. Our group, Knights Order of Lion Rampant, re-enacts 14C medieval tourneys and
the like. We are required to maintain a persona and part of making up that persona is to have a motto or warcry (usually in Latin).

I'm looking for something like this:

"There is only God and the sword" or "Only God and the sword".

My crash course in Latin over the last few hours resulted in "Deus et ferrum solus" but I'm only hazarding a guess. For example I'm not sure if ferrum should be ferro (which I think is the ablative).

Alternatively, "God is my sword" wouldn't be too bad either. "Deus est mea ferro", maybe?

Thanks very much for your time,
Anthony Stiller

Submitted by Anthony Stiller (Brisbane - Australia)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 7:29 pm
by Archived Reply
While in principle I'd be glad to help, unfortunately you have, I believe, hit on a weak spot among the regular Wordwizard contributors, as I don't think any of us knows much Latin. Of course we can always guess, but that's not a lot better than you guessing on your own without the benefit of additional conjectural assistance.

I do have a comment about your proposed use of the ablative case, on the other hand. The online Merriam-Webster describes it as "of, relating to, or constituting a grammatical case expressing typically the relations of separation and source and also frequently such relations as cause or instrument".

In this instance M-W does not mean instrument as in a tool or weapon, but as a causative agent.

M-W describes 'nominative' thus:

1 a : marking typically the subject of a verb especially in languages that have relatively full inflection <nominative case>
1 b : of or relating to the nominative case <a nominative ending>

Clearly, both 'God' and 'sword' should remain in the nominative case in the phrase you have cited.

I'm afraid you'll need to look elsewhere than this site to obtain a reliable Latin translation. Good luck!
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 7:44 pm
by Archived Reply
From what I remember of my high school Latin...

The problem with your first phrase is that you have something rather idiomatically/poetically stated in English and then are trying to translate to another language by merely substituting words. Solus is an adjective that means solitary, so you've come up with (almost) "the lone God and the lone iron" when you want something that means "There only exists God and the sword" (whatever "the sword" means?) or "Nothing exists except God and the ways of war" or something like that which is beyond my memories of high school.

Gladius is more often used for sword and is masculine instead of neuter like ferrum. The primary meaning of ferrum is iron so the sword meaning is figurative (like "Taste my steel" in English)
Word order is usually different in Latin so it should probably be "Deus meus gladius est" (or "Deus meum ferrum est") with the verb at the end.
Reply from Russ Cable (Dallas, TX - U.S.A.)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 7:58 pm
by Archived Reply
Latin grammar be damned! If you have a fighting force, your motto is what you say it is! I can't imagine any foe trying to correct the grammar of your warcry as your knights charge them! Do you have tournament referees or umpires who will dock you based on your failure to use the correct ablative or nominative case? My NSHO for your motto is: "Dominus gladius mea" (God is my sword).

Find a pretty sheila's scarf, tie it to your lance or helm and sally forth to conquer the Saracens/French/etc! You know of course, that those knichts very likely spoke French or perhaps German?
Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 8:13 pm
by Archived Reply
Well, sure, nobody is going to explain to the enemy "Steady on old chaps, I do believe your motto misuses the ablative most frightfully - if it's all the same to you, might I suggest rewording it "Dominus glad- AARGGH!!!"

On the other hand, the enemy's morale is likely to be increased, and that of the standard-bearing party enfeebled, by a slogan that reads the equivalent of, say, "Giv for me the exemption or giv the extinction me" rather than "Give me liberty or give me death!"

Eh what, Leif? *G*
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 8:27 pm
by Archived Reply
Spot on, Erik, old top. The importance of a good motto cannot be overemphasized. E.g., if the cavalry at Gallipoli had had an inspiring one such as the "Knights Order of Lion Rampant" now has, things might have been different! Instead, the Colonel received his orders and said "Oh, shit! Charge." And shit happened! *G*
Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 8:41 pm
by Archived Reply
All,
Thanks for everyone's help. It is very much appreciated (and was rather enjoyable to read). You've all got the spirit of the thing spot on and in this case close enough is probably good enough.

I do like Dominus gladius mea (The Lord is my sword) but I'll experiment a bit more and see how I go.

Thanks again!
Ant
Reply from Anthony Stiller (Brisbane - Australia)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 8:56 pm
by Archived Reply
"The Lord is my Sword, but the pennant on my lance is from Woolies."
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 9:10 pm
by Archived Reply
And wool worth the money!
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 9:25 pm
by Archived Reply
Sure it wasn't from M&S, Edwin?

Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 9:39 pm
by Archived Reply
St Michael doesn't use the lance a lot, Leif.
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 9:53 pm
by Archived Reply
No, by George!
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 10:08 pm
by Archived Reply
And I believe Sauron and his boss always used Macys.
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)

Latin translation for a Living History group

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2001 10:22 pm
by Archived Reply
Dominus gladius meUS. The word is masculine.
Reply from Lindsay Ardwyn (London - England)