Can you help with a Latin translation?
July 22, 2006 5:42 PM   Subscribe

How would this motto translate into Latin? "Embrace change, never compromise."

I'm trying to design a coat of arms. I've looked at some online resources, but there are so many different meanings for "change", and I couldn't even find a Latin equivalent for "compromise".

Alternatively, does the motto have to be in Latin? Do you think it loses impact if it's in English?
posted by starvingartist to Writing & Language (11 answers total)
I think it's perfectly fine in English. In fact, since it wouldn't require th majority of people who see it to look up its meaning, as Latin no doubt would, it might have more impact.

Besides, it's so usual to have the motto be in Latin. Why not do something really different--say, Klingon?
posted by cerebus19 at 6:45 PM on July 22, 2006

"Embrace change, never compromise."

Means the complete opposite of itself.
posted by 517 at 6:54 PM on July 22, 2006

Singular: Amplectere mutationem, Compromitte numquam.
Plural: Amplectimini mutationem, Compromittite numquam.

Get that checked before you print it on any t-shirts. I don't see any problem doing it in English; the Latin I've given is hardly inspiring (and more than a mouth full). There are probably more concise ways to say it, but this is my straightforward attempt.
posted by sbutler at 6:57 PM on July 22, 2006

Also, if you wanted to be pedantic, Latin didn't have u, they used v instead. So it would look, more like:


I think it's stupid when people write building with a v, but as long as you're in Latin...
posted by sbutler at 7:01 PM on July 22, 2006

as long as you're in Latin...

do as the Latins do? :)

Really though, cerebus19 is right. Unless there's a pressing reason to put your slogan in Latin -- and I can't imagine why there would be -- don't. All you're going to do is make most people not understand it, so what's the point?
posted by danb at 7:16 PM on July 22, 2006

It's a coat of arms. It must be in Latin. That's just what you do on coats of arms.
posted by jayder at 8:19 PM on July 22, 2006

Response by poster: Means the complete opposite of itself.

Not necessarily. And that's not a help with the translation, but thanks.
posted by starvingartist at 9:27 PM on July 22, 2006

Well 'compromise' doesn't make much sense. Somebody who accepts change is always willing to compromise/improvise/adapt. I assume you mean something more like 'Embrace Change, Never Surrender' which is a common motto among the world's special forces troops. For the verb 'embrace' I think you want comprehendo which has the (double) meaning you really expect. mutationem is the right word for change. For surrender you probably want succumbo or perhaps cedo (submit). I won't do the actual translation for you; it's Sunday after all.

Alternatively, does the motto have to be in Latin? Do you think it loses impact if it's in English?

Yes, it has to be in Latin. These things are done in Latin for the same reason the military uses codenames: it forces a higher degree of conceptual focus than just using plain old words/numbers.
posted by nixerman at 5:57 AM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

English instead of Latin on a coat of arms says, to me, "this coat of arms was designed recently". Sometimes that's what you want, sometimes it isn't.

For instance, the coat of arms of Michaelle Jean, Governor-General of Canada, has its motto in French, which for our purposes is identical to having it in English because Jean is from Quebec. But the whole thing is obviously modern so it suits -- and there's no point in pretending it's not a modern coat of arms, because it was granted to someone who is currently alive.

As another example, the coat of arms of Nunavut, Canada's newest territory in the far North, has its motto in Inuktitut, which is very unusual and very appropriate since Inuktitut is one of the official languages of Nunavut. Again, no-one could pretend it's not a modern coat of arms; Nunavut is only a few years old.
posted by mendel at 9:56 AM on July 23, 2006

Similarly Britain, of course
posted by IndigoJones at 12:17 PM on July 23, 2006

Basically, the problem is that you want to use classical language to express a very un-classical idea. 'Embrace change, never compromise' is not an idea that fits very comfortably within the classical Latin mindset, which is more concerned with the need to avoid novelty and seek moderation in all things.

(Also, be warned: 'compromise' and 'compromittere' are false friends. 'Compromitte numquam' doesn't mean 'never compromise', it means something more like 'never settle a dispute with an enemy'.)

I experimented with other, more authentically classical ways of expressing your idea, but they all came out sounding very militaristic -- 'more apt for war than peace', and so on -- so in the end I went back to a more literal translation. This is off the top of my head (with a bit of help from a dictionary), but how about 'Novitatem capite, concessionem vitate' (literally 'seize novelty, shun concession')?
posted by verstegan at 3:00 AM on July 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

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