I came, I saw, I swore somewhat...
August 3, 2006 7:59 AM   Subscribe

English - Latin translation question. I should have paid attention in school but there was this really nice girl sitting next to me and you know how it goes...

I would very much appreciate either the tools to perform a translation or a smart person to borrow to translate the following into correct Latin -

"Don't let the bastards grind you down"

Yeah, I know... It's not for me. It's for erm... a friend. Yeah, that's it.
posted by longbaugh to Writing & Language (6 answers total)
Illegitimi non-carborundum.
posted by matty at 8:00 AM on August 3, 2006

Non illigitamus carborundum popped up on Google - but seems somewhat unlikely. Many sources give this translation, whilst others disagree with it as an accurate one.
posted by longbaugh at 8:04 AM on August 3, 2006

uh, that's a latin joke. Carborundum is an industrial abrasive made with silicon dioxide (and the name of a company that makes industrial abrasives). So "Illegitimi non-carborundum" is a pun because carborundum sounds very latinish.

I don't know enough latin to give you a real translation, but I also highly doubt that "illegitimi" is the proper translation of "bastard" in this context.
posted by Justinian at 8:26 AM on August 3, 2006

Here's a faq entry on the fake latin from alt.usage.english.

Wiki gives a latin version courtesy of Henry Beard:

Noli nothis permittere te terere. (Don't let the bastards wear you down.)
posted by justkevin at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2006

According to Safire's New Political Dictionary, this is "a pseudo-Latin phrase meaning 'don't let the bastards grind you down'. Small signs and plaques carrying this message have appeared in U.S. business offices and army posts for at least a generation, since General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell used it as his motto in World War II. Carborundum is a trademark for silicon carbide, a leading commercial grinding substance...In politics, the motto was popularized by 1964 Republican nominee Senator Barry Goldwater, who hung the sign in his office." (--from Safire's New Political Dictionary, p. 353)
posted by matty at 8:48 AM on August 3, 2006

If you're going to go with the joke version (which I recommend, because it's widespread and easily understood, unlike the "correct" version, which is fairly pointless because this is not something any Roman ever said or would say or would even understand if you said it), lose the hyphen. Just:

Illegitimi non carborundum.

Or for extra added fake-antique goodness:

posted by languagehat at 11:25 AM on August 3, 2006

« Older Cheesy Vegas   |   Advice for buying a bike in NYC. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.