Help capturing the sentiment of Arrival (2016)

cthomas

New Member
Based on the 1998 short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang, not only was it a visionary and thought-provoking sci-fi film, but it truly moved me on an emotional level that I can’t shake. I keep returning to the underlying theme as a guiding principle, and would appreciate any help boiling it down to an elegant (yet grammatically correct) mantra/motto in Latin.

Without spoilers for anyone that hasn’t yet seen it (and what are you waiting FOR?! it’s on Hulu right now, go watch it… I’ll wait;) The part that always captures my imagination is near the end, when Louise asks Ian:

“If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?”

To me, this transcends phrases like “carpe diem,” “dum spiro spero,” “Nihil te paeniteat,” or instagram nonsense like “live your best life.” It’s soul searching, motivating, contemplates our mortality, explores free will vs. determinism, and the finite nature of each of our ‘stories’… pressing us to be better, and appreciate more.

So far, the best I can come up with is Frankesteined phrases like “Respice finem… Mutatis Mutandis” or “te fabula narratur, vita mutatur.” Terrible. I’m hoping an expert (and fan of the film) can help me capture this beautiful idea with the most beautiful language.

Thanks in advance. (and again, if you haven’t seen Arrival… You should).
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Hi,

I'm not a fan of the film—haven't watched it—but I'm a Latin expert, if that will suffice. :p

I would translate “If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” as follows:

Si vitam tuam ab initio ad finem usque videre possis, num qua immutes?

By the way:
te fabula narratur
A word is missing here—it's de te fabula narratur.
 
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cthomas

New Member
First, thank you for your help! In your expert opinion would it be possible to boil that down into a 4-5 word (more poetic) phrase?

That still captures the sentiment of ‘despite seeing/knowing the journey/ending/results, would you do anything differently?’

Secondly, I can’t recommend Arrival highly enough. Especially for anyone that enjoys languages (as you clearly do). The premise may be science fiction, but it’s really a study of communication, syntax, grammar, and bridging cultural divides.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
First, thank you for your help! In your expert opinion would it be possible to boil that down into a 4-5 word (more poetic) phrase?

That still captures the sentiment of ‘despite seeing/knowing the journey/ending/results, would you do anything differently?’
I can suggest:
Praecognito eventu, num quid immutes?
With the result known in advance, would you change anything?
 
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