"Quantum nescimus" translation?
September 27, 2010 5:05 PM   Subscribe

What is the English translation of the Latin phrase, "Quantum nescimus"?

I have read that this was one of the mottoes considered for the Royal Society at its founding in 1660, and that it means, "What a lot we don't know." On the other hand, the references I found to this by googling seemed to stem from the same one or two original sources and I don't know any Latin. Could anyone confirm the translation?

posted by daisyk to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How much we don't know.
posted by infodiva at 5:10 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Apparently, "How much we are ignorant."
posted by bearwife at 5:10 PM on September 27, 2010

Best answer: Sorry, I post before I meant to. Yes, it means 'How much (or what a lot) we don't know." You could also translate it as "There is so much we don't know."
posted by infodiva at 5:11 PM on September 27, 2010

Best answer: Yeah, I would translate that as 'how much we don't know', or 'how much we are ignorant'. (I'd probably go with the former as it sounds more natural.)

Nescimus is from the verb nescio, nescire, nescivi, —, meaning 'not know' or 'be ignorant', and quantum is an adjective or adverb meaning 'how much', 'how far', 'how great', etc.
posted by badmoonrising at 2:22 AM on September 28, 2010

"How little we know" is the most elegant solution, I think.
posted by venividivici at 9:08 AM on September 28, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I can mark this resolved :)
posted by daisyk at 11:05 AM on September 28, 2010

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