Latin Motto Help
September 13, 2014 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to have the following phrase translated into Latin: "Two is one, one is none"

And second question, is there a good resource to find traditional Latin motto?

I promise this is not going to be a tattoo. ;-)
posted by tarpin to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
I can't translate it, but as is often the case in these questions, it will help the translators if you explain what you mean by "Two is one, one is none." For example, is it meant to be the setup of a riddle, a statement about marriage, or something else? Looking forward to seeing the answers.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:09 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I first saw it was as a quote from a self-defense-with-gun guy meaning one gun can fail, and then it's none, but of you have two guns, one will still be working.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:40 PM on September 13, 2014

Best answer: The simplest literal translation would be 'duo est unus, unus est nihil.' I've left everything in the nominative since it's all subjects and predicates, but you could argue for different cases.

A good source for 'traditional Latin mottos?' I don't know; most of those Latin mottos are simply lines from texts, and I generally recommend to people before they just start throwing them around to go back and see what the context really was, as it usually means something different than what they might think (though this is generally advice I give to people who want Latin tattoos). If you're willing to wade a bit, The Perseus Project is a great resource.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:34 PM on September 13, 2014

Best answer: You'd probably want the cardinal number one (which is a declinable adjective in Latin) in the neuter gender if you're referring to 'things' rather than people, so:

Duo est unum, unum est nihil.

But a more authentically Latin syntax would probably be

Duo unum est, unum nihil.

Self-taught, though, so happy to be corrected.
posted by Ted Maul at 2:20 AM on September 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, sorry I've been a bit out of pocket.

I was referring to having a backup system or multiple routes for a network, for system administrators.
posted by tarpin at 7:50 AM on September 17, 2014

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