Maybe we need a thread for maxims and proverbs, likeDe mortuis nil nisi bonum, Vae victis, Entia non sunt muliplicanda, or De gustibus non est disputandum. There are many others. Any you would care to contribute?
Thanks for the link, Decimus. Perhaps people could look at the list and each choose a few favorites. So far, being of Spanish heritage, I'll say this one is my favorite:
Beati hispani, quibus vivere bibere est. "Happy are the Spaniards, for whom to live is to drink."
Unfortunately, this is a bit of a sarcastic observation, since it stems from the fact that when many Spaniards pronounce Latin, as when we speak Spanish, there is no distinction between the sounds of "b" an"v."
By the bye, the French also favor us with a charming expression: Tu parles français comme une vache espagnole; that is, "You speak French like a Spanish cow," referring to the difficulty many Spaniards have in pronouncing French, which is phonemically very different from Spanish. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a Frenchman who coined the Latin aphorism I chose! Speaking of which, have you ever heard the French pronunciation of Latin?
French people are always surprised when I tell them of my Spanish origins, because they find it remarkable that I, being a person whose first language was Spanish, have almost no accent in speaking French; of course, this is because I learned it quite young, while my phonemic habits were still "flexible."
One thing I've noticed is that if a quotation hasn't got a known origin, there is little or no attempt made by any of the sources available on the internet to determine when it first appeared. Perhaps there are actual printed books that list such things; otherwise trying to get anywhere with this sounds like a long hard slog involving physical libraries.
De mortuis nil nisi bonum is a phrase commonly used. Once someone asked me why the verb was omitted. I said it was a feature of sayings in Latin, and then realised that I couldn't think of any examples that were genuinely parallel. All the ones that sprang to mind were sentences in which the copula was dropped. This is not the case here, and furthermore it's an imperative that's understood. Can anyone help out?
By the way, de mortuis nil nisi bonum would also make sense to me with an indicative implied. In fact that's how I took it before I read you saying it was a command. But both make sense. I guess that's just the sort of ambiguity that results from being too elliptical.