Devising A Bookish Motto …

For fun I’ve been twittering about devising a bookish motto, which once tweaked may become the new subtitle of this blog. The phrase ‘Never leave home without a book’ sums my reading strategy up nicely. Now it needs to be translated into Latin …

Many moons ago I did get an ‘A’ for my Latin O-level. I loved Latin, and got a lot out of it, however having studied the touchy-feely Cambridge Latin course, the conjugations and declensions were never drilled into us in the traditional amo, amas, amat … style. You were taught basic roots of words mostly and picked up the grammar it seemed by osmosis. If you read enough of it, it seeped in sort of.

Three decades of forgetting later though, I’m left with a problem like that of Brian in Life of Brian, (the Python’s best film and one which I had the luxury of seeing an uncut test screening of as a student in the presence of Palin, Jones, Idle and Gilliam – as mentioned in Palin’s wonderful diaries). You must remember the scene where John Cleese’s Roman centurion corrected Brian’s grammar in his graffiti on the city walls – making him write ‘Romani eunt domum’ fifty times for getting it wrong. Classic!

So this is my problem too! I tried using an internet translation site – but getting declensions and conjugations right is beyond it! I’ve got this far: Never = nunquam; to leave = dimitto; home = domus; without = sine; a book = liber/libri which gives so far …

Nunquam dimitto domus sine libri

It obviously still needs some work so I’m off to locate my copy of a rather good Latin primer by Peter Jones –

Learn Latin: The Book of ‘The Daily Telegraph’ QED Series to see if it’ll help me fine-tune my Latin. Watch this space!

Update 6pm: After much poring of the above book, a Latin dictionary and Wikipedia I’ve ended up with this. If there’s anyone who can tell me if I’m right – I’d really appreciate it. Should egredite be in the imperative? Is domo ablative? Is nunquam in the right place?

Egredite domo nunquam sine liber

0 thoughts on “Devising A Bookish Motto …

  1. Ali says:

    Can’t help you Annabel – dropping Latin at 13 was one of the hi-lights of my senior school experience.Fulvia est puella Romana. And don’t even get me started on Cornelia…

  2. Anna van Gelderen says:

    I had tons of Latin in school, forgot most of it, but do remember that word order is unimportant in Latin, so you can put nunquam wherever you fancy.As for sine: it goes with the ablative (looked this up) therefore liber should be libre, I suppose, and yes, the ablative of domus is domo (according to my source).

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