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Need help with a Cry Wolf quote please, help settle a bet!

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 11:28 am
by crazedcanuck
Gareth Swales had a family motto in latin, I believe it was "don't let the bastards get you down".

Neither myself or my dad have a copy of the book, or access to it and was hoping someone could settle a bet. We both remember different latin translations.

If someone has access to a copy and can post the phrase as it appeared in the novel would be a great help!



Re: Need help with a Cry Wolf quote please, help settle a bet!

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 11:54 pm
by Ada
Hi Rob, Welcome to the Forum.

I did a quick flip through Cry Wolf and the only Latin phrase I could find was Noli illegitimi carborundum but that was at the end and it doesn't give a translation there.

My pencilled in note on the inside cover says: "Last Read Feb - March, 1999, Worst one he's written - don't remember reading before - won't again in a hurry." :shock: :?

I didn't know this was another one I wasn't too keen on - I thought that honour belonged to The Diamond Hunters :lol: . So, needless to say, I'm not prepared to 'read' the whole book again to find where the phrase first appears. I tried googling it but couldn't get the carborundum part to translate. Oh well, hope this is some sort of help anyway and good luck with your bet. :)

Re: Need help with a Cry Wolf quote please, help settle a bet!

PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:52 am
by Ramon
You are right about the Latin phrase Ada, but I found it appr. 1/3 into the book.

"What was that piece of dog Latin you recited..." Jake asked
"Old family war cry" Gareth explained.
"And what does it mean?"
"Noli illegitimi carborundum?" Gareth grinned as he lit the cheroots. "It means, "Don't let the bastards grind you down"."

And you are also right about that it's not a great book Ada. Imho it only beats "The Dark of the Sun".

Re: Need help with a Cry Wolf quote please, help settle a bet!

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:57 pm
by crazedcanuck
Thanks all, decided to google/wiki the phrase and look what I turned up...

Illegitimi non carborundum is a mock-Latin aphorism jokingly taken to mean "don't let the bastards grind you down". There are many variants of the phrase, such as

Nil illegitimi carborundum.
Non illegitimis carborundum.
Illegitimi nil carborundum.
Non illegitimi carborundum.
Nil bastardo carborundum.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
Illegitimis non carborundum.
Illegitimus non carborundum est.
Nil illegitimo in desperandum carborundum

None of the above is correct Latin. Carborundum is not a Latin word but the name of a mineral which is extremely hard and used for grinding. (see silicon carbide article). The ending -undum suggests either a Latin gerund or gerundive form--and the idea of obligation ("Don't let ...") is more suggestive of the gerundive--but the word is actually a portmanteau of "carbon" (from Latin), and "corundum" (from Tamil kurundam).

Illegitimi suggests illegitimate to the English speaker, or bastardo likewise, but the Latin for bastard is actually nothus (from the Greek word notho (νόθο) meaning not-pure, and used when referring to a bastard whose father is known) or spurius (for a bastard whose father is unknown). The forms with nil may be formed partly on the pattern of the genuine Latin phrase Nil desperandum.

The phrase originated during World War II. Lexicographer Eric Partridge attributes it to British army intelligence very early in the war (in the plural illegitimis). The phrase was adopted by US Army general "Vinegar" Joe Stillwell as his motto during the war.[1] It was later further popularized in the US by 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.[2] The United States submarine USS Tunny (SSN-682) uses it as the ship motto. The weekly Alaskan newspaper 'The Nome Nugget' uses it as a motto, as does the Whitehorse Daily Star, in the capital of the Yukon Territory.

Henry Beard in his 1991 book Latin for Even More Occasions (chapter I) offered some correct Latin for the sentiment, but did so in a section "Dopey Exhortations Are More Forceful in Latin", which might be his comment on the merit of the expression.

Don't let the bastards wear you down.
Noli nothis permittere te terere.

Re: Need help with a Cry Wolf quote please, help settle a bet!

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:02 am
by Ramon
And what we all are wondering:
Did you win the bet, crazedcanuck?