Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Latin is Lousy

Like most people I have heard the phrase, "Illegitimi non carborundum est." Usually the associated translation is, "Don't let the bastards grind you down!" At different points in my life, I've pasted that slogan on my desk, keyboard, inside of my eyelids (mentally, of course, I can't imagine how to do it physically!), and just about everywhere else I've thought it needed. Problem is, I was wrong. It's not even a Latin phrase!

Even though it's used all over the place, since WWII and in the Barry Goldwater campaign to the nickname of the Harvard University Marching Band, it's not correct in its meaning, translation, or anything else. It's a nonsensical phrase.

The actual Latin translation, that I've just found on Wikipedia, is Noli nothi permittere te terere.

Looking at that, though, I can see why people stuck with the fake Latin!

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