"Tell me I can't, I'll show you I can"

By JadeLauren, in 'English to Latin Translation', Aug 15, 2017.

  1. JadeLauren New Member

    Hi All, any help with this translation would be hugely appreciated. Thank you in advance!
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Here's a way of putting it:

    Dice mihi me non posse: ego tibi posse ostendam.
    Phai Hui Vryj likes this.
  3. aegor magister

    • Civis Illustris
    dic is the imperative of dicere. I would also consider making the subject of the second posse explicit: (ego) tibi me posse ostendam. The ego is grammatically optional; ostendam makes it clear that the subject is "I."
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    That is the classical imperative, yes. However, dice is an archaic variant, and I chose to use it here because, for understandable reasons, people will often prefer to avoid dic in tattoos and the like.
    That is unnecessary; it can be left implied from what precedes. This is pretty common and it looks more elegant to me this way.
    Yes, it is optional, yet it sounded good to me to include it here, since there seems to be some contrast between you telling me I can't, and, on the other hand, me showing you I can.
  5. aegor magister

    • Civis Illustris
    You are right on all counts -- standards of style and elegance are paramount (at least when deciding tattoos). Someone obsessed with balance and chiasmus could even use me posse tibi ostendam. Choices, choices!
    Phai Hui Vryj and Adrian like this.
  6. Adrian LEO VETERANUS

    • Civis Illustris
    To me this translation requests sounds like conditional clause, i.e. something along the lines of
    Si Provocata ero Ostendam or Si (verbis tuis) provocabor ostendam.
    Last edited by Adrian, Sep 8, 2017
    Phai Hui Vryj likes this.
  7. Iáson Cívis Illústris

    • Civis Illustris
    This is just my opinion, but I wouldn't use an archaic form unless you are looking for an archaic tone. Moreover, díc is not pronounced anything like the profane English word, since the vowel is long and the second consonant unaspirated. Alternatively one could use a synonym like assevérá.

    I wonder if the difference between an imperative or a conditional rendering is one of tone. The imperative is rather aggressive: 'I suspect you're going to tell me that I can't do it, so just dare tell me so and I'll do it!' It's a bit more specific, giving an impression of an actual conversation with another person, whereas for a general motto a conditional might be more appropriate (ie., if anyone tells me I can't do something, I shall do it).

    If you're going for a condensed version, you could also consider the active: sí próvocás, ostendam. Or maybe sí verbó próvocás, factó ostendam (if you want to be more explicit but still preserve the parallelism).
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  8. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    in orbe lacteo
    There are instances in Latin of conditional ideas expressed with imperatives. I remember an example or two in Ovid, but I don't remember the exact words. I'll try to find them maybe.
  9. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Yes, but most people looking at a tattoo won't know that: to a non-Latinist English speaker, dic looks like it should be pronounced like "dick", and that's what tattooists often want to avoid. I'm not saying this sort of thing should, ideally, be paid attention to, but the fact is people just do (and I can understand them).

    Honestly, I don't think we need to look for rephrasings such as "if you provoke/challenge me, I'll show you". The imperative vs. conditional clause thing may be discussed, but otherwise I see no reason not to stick closer to the original.
    Last edited by Pacifica, Sep 8, 2017
  10. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    in orbe lacteo
    Although fac, the imperative of facio, is not pronounced exactly like the similar-sounding English profanity, my classmates still always laughed at it when we learned it in 1st year Latin. I suspect that dic would have a similar problem, even though, as Iason points out, it really shouldn't be an issue.

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