Keep your head above water, but below the parapet

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by cheungministro, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. cheungministro New Member


    Help needed please.

    I'm translating a family motto into Latin. Please could you advise on my efforts.

    English motto:
    Keep your head above water, but below the parapet

    conveyed message should be:
    (remain / stand / exist / be) higher than the water, and lower than the parapet.*
    *Parapet comes from the Italian word parapetto, (cover/defend breast), and means the wall around the top of a castle. If no translation can be found, "castle wall" or "defensive wall" could be used, as in:
    "Stand higher than the water, but lower than the castle wall."

    Super aquam at sub pinnam (murum tecti) caput tuum ponat

    super/supra? (acc/abl)? if placing your head I suppose it is with motion...
    sub (acc/abl)? if placing your head I suppose it is with motion...
    to keep - a tricky verb to translate I went for ponere to place - any better suggestions
    subj for "to keep" - I see it as a 3rd person imperative - therefore subjunctive. Yay or nay?
    translation of parapet - I found pinna to mean "wing" or "parapet". I have included the (murum tecti) for a literal translation. Any other suggestions?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Salvete amici!

    For Cheungministro who posts this enquiry there is an almost irresoluble problem - at least for rendition into Latin - namely that the metaphors are mixed; it isn't helped by the fact that both are to an extent clichés.

    If the motto (in his native Chinese, I assume) means simply something like, "be safe" or "look after yourself", perhaps he could let us know.

  3. cheungministro New Member


    I'm British and it's for a family motto and I think it is supposed to be tongue in cheek. Something like "lucky" or "right place, right time".

    Kind regards,

  4. relativamente Senior Member

    catalan and spanish
    I am trying to answer only the two first points
    Just taken from a dictionary
    super is an adverb and also a preposition going both with ablative and accusative. When used with accusative means over, with or without mouvement.When used with ablative can mean also over exemple supra cervice pendet ensis (the sword is hanging over the head) or about example hac super re scribam ad te (I will write to you about this matter.
    sub is only a preposition that can go with accusative or with ablative
    With ablative and local meaning can be used with or without the idea of mouvement-sub terra habitare -sub iugo mittere -sub monte (at the foot of the mountain)
    With ablative and temporal meaning sub Domiciano, in the times of Domicianus. Sub ipsa profectione (in the same moment of the walking)
    With accusative and local meaning under (ONLY WITH MOUVEMENT)sub montem succedere to get close to the foot of the mountain
    With accusative and temporal meaning after or about -sub vesperum around sunset. After sub haec dicta after those words.
  5. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    If you would like something short and snappy, which could fit on the shield of a coat of arms, say, then I would suggest:

    nando cavendo

    The literal meaning is 'by swimming, by being cautious'.
    In other words, you will survive by both swimming (keeping your head above water) and being cautious (not putting your head above the parapet).

    Must be a bit difficult to keep afloat while taking a parapet along, though. Hats off to all who can do so.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  6. cheungministro New Member


    Are there any grammar errors with the translation though?
  7. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The classical Latin word for "parapet" is (I believe) agger.
  8. cheungministro New Member

    Interesting, so...

    Super aquam at sub aggerem (murum tecti) caput tuum ponat
  9. relativamente Senior Member

    catalan and spanish
    Super aquam at sub pinnam (murum tecti) caput tuum ponat
    Are there any grammar errors with the translation though?

    Yes there's at least one
    imperative second person is pone
    Better than pono maybe use teneo or servo
  10. relativamente Senior Member

    catalan and spanish
    In my dictionary spanish Latin the translation for parapeto is vallum. But I suspect that Spanish parapeto i not equivalent to English parapet
  11. cheungministro New Member

    I read that if wanting to use the imperative in the third person you should use the this is a motto I thought 3rd person would suit more. any thoughts?
  12. Stoicorum_simia Senior Member

    English (UK)
    If you put in a third person verb, you would be saying 'let him/her keep your head above water...' I think mottoes quite often use a second person imperative, but if you want a subjunctive put ponas not ponat. (And you don't need the tuum, either. In fact to be really snappy maybe omit the verb, too.)

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