Always an Ordeal
December 9, 2009 9:39 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I always joke about the preponderance of shitty luck we have and how if our family had a crest part of it would be the words "Always an Ordeal" written in Latin. I'm thinking I'd like to actually design it as a gift but know nothing of Latin. Anyone out there know how "Always an Ordeal" would be written in Latin?
posted by Nyarlathotep to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
semper onus
posted by hiteleven at 9:41 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Semper Arduus
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:43 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Semper difficilis = always trouble, or always difficult
Semper arduus = always difficult, but infers something really difficult; it's the root of "arduous."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:46 PM on December 9, 2009

semper aerumnosus ("aerumnosus" means full of hardship, or afflicted with trouble)
posted by cerebus19 at 10:09 PM on December 9, 2009

Not to make light of your difficulties (and this is a little off-topic), but my husband just suggested that as a theme for your crest, you should have 2 hands forever struggling to open a stubborn jar of pickles. That is always an ordeal.
posted by oflinkey at 10:11 PM on December 9, 2009 [16 favorites]

I love the pickles idea!

We had a friend draw us a family crest and it was really fun putting in various elements of our family history and our shared interests into the design. So, I wholly endorse this gift idea.
posted by vespabelle at 11:01 PM on December 9, 2009

I like cerebus' translation. You could tweak the Latin a bit to semper per aerumnas - always through struggle / always through catastrophes.

Onus means a load, or difficulty - but more like "it's a hard slog."
posted by nangar at 11:03 PM on December 9, 2009

Uhm. One other thing. I only know a little Latin. Wouldn't the descriptive forms like difficilis, arduus and aerumnosus, without further context, be taken as referring to a male, ie. "he's difficult / full of struggle"? (expect for difficilis, which could also mean "she difficult"). Referring to a genuine vague "it," like "it's raining" or "it's an ordeal," they'd be difficile, arduum or aerumnosum, right?

Can a real Latinophile weigh in on this? We don't want this to end up like a Chinese tattoo.

Arduus/ardua/arduum means "steep," so the idea is it's like going up-hill. Arduum can mean something steep or something difficult, like we would say, an up-hill climb. So semper arduum - "it's always an up-hill climb."

Ærumna means something really difficult to do or get through, so pretty much - an ordeal.

Semper onus / arduum / aerumna (or per arduum / per aerumnas) are all OK, since they have their own gender, and don't refer to something or somebody else's gender. (I know this sounds weird, but Latin has weird grammar.)
posted by nangar at 12:20 AM on December 10, 2009

Of course you could have

semper per aerumnas
- cucumeres -

Always through great struggle - cucumbers!

I'm up in the middle of the night. I'll go to bed now, and quit overthinking pickles.
posted by nangar at 1:00 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Rather than use my atrophied latin skills, I'll recommend the following service: These guys are professional Latinists with many decades of experience. They specialise in mottos and short phrases and using them will ensure that you won't end up with "always with a hard-on" as your family motto.
posted by atrazine at 2:10 AM on December 10, 2009 [9 favorites]

That's semper arrigens, fwiw, but I wouldn't recommend it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:41 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Once again, avail yourself of The Latin Translator, where you will receive the correct translation from a Latin professor with over 30 years of experience. It's only $20 bucks. Livy will thank you.
posted by elle.jeezy at 5:17 AM on December 10, 2009

Our family motto really is "per ardua", which means "through difficulties", which is kind of the same sentiment.
posted by smackfu at 6:24 AM on December 10, 2009

Response by poster: Hah! Thanks everyone. For once it looks like something won't be an ordeal.

Seems like there are a lot of variations on the 'an ordeal' part of it so I think I'll check out the Latin Translator and fork over the $20. They've come up in searches I've done in the past and I've always been put off by the fly-by-night look of their website, but if the MeFi community recommends them, thats good enough for me.
posted by Nyarlathotep at 6:44 AM on December 10, 2009


Or, two hands proper grasping a jar of pickles proper.

That's probably close to how it would be blazoned in heraldic terms.

(Proper is 'the color it is in nature'; 'or' is the heraldic term for a gold color, put that way for cynicism.)
posted by mephron at 7:10 AM on December 10, 2009

Also of interest: the state motto of Kansas.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:23 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Be very careful. Once you make that crest you and all of your descendants OWN IT. It will be like getting kicked in the ass by the universe and you were the one's looking back over your shoulders saying G'wan I dare ya..... another way of putting it is; Careful what you wish for!
posted by sgobbare at 3:16 PM on December 10, 2009

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