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Latin Translation

by Scott
(Birmingham, MI USA)

Dear Latin Teacher,

What is the Latin translation for "By myself but not alone", as well as "All I am I owe to my mother"? I would like to get something engraved as my mother passed last February and I can not find a translator that is correct.

Thank You, Scott

Dear Scott,

My condolences for your loss. The words you plan to engrave are beautiful in English.

When we translate ideas into Latin it's impossible to go word for word. We have to analyze carefully what we are really saying in English, and then find the best way to express those ideas in Latin. Some part of the idea is always lost.

If you are sure you want to use Latin, I have shared some ideas below. Take your time on this. You will find the phrasing that feels right to you (and that may not be in Latin).

"By myself, but not alone"

ipse, at non solus (ipsa, at non sola)

The intensive Latin pronoun ipse means 'by oneself' in the sense of 'acting alone' or 'of one's own accord'.

The conjunction at is a strong version of our conjunction 'but'. It means something like 'but in fact' or 'but to my surprise'.

The rest of the line, non solus, means 'not alone, not solitary, not isolated'.

The second version is feminine: ipsa, sola.

If I translate it back into English it means "I am acting by myself or of my own accord, but in fact (to my surprise) I am not alone."

"All I am I owe to my mother"

omnia quae in me, a matre orta

For this one, the phrasing has to be changed considerably to get at the true idea. If I translate the Latin back into English it means, 'Everything which is in me, had its origin in my mother.'

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking a Latin teacher.



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by: Anonymous

Dear latin teacher,

Would you be able to translate this pharse into latin please:

better to burn out than fade away.


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