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nil carborundum est

Latin translation: nil carborundum illigitium

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12:37 Aug 25, 2002
Latin to Latin translations [Non-PRO]
Latin term or phrase: nil carborundum est
no info on how the term is used
Julie
Latin translation:nil carborundum illigitium
Explanation:
or Illegitimus Non Carborundum
is how it is normally phrased. It means
"Don't let the bastards get you down".

It was inscribed, most famously, on a bracelet or watch, given by a businessman (can't remember his name) to a Conservative MP - one of the ones involved in the various corruption scandals / cash for questions affairs in the 1990s - when said MP was being questioned over his allegedly crooked dealings with the said businessman.




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Note added at 2002-08-25 13:59:59 (GMT)
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Eva is right in saying that this is mock Latin or \"dog Latin\".

Below is a neat little treatise on the phrases possible origins - credit to one Terrence Lockyer, who suggests that it is a sideways derivation from Horace\'s nil disperandum:

http://omega.cohums.ohio-state.edu:8080/hyper-lists/classics...

\"The best suggestion I have seen for the origin of the dog-latin \'don\'t let the bastards grind you down\' is recorded in (though surely not original with) the paperback second edition of *Brewer\'s Dictionary of 20th-Century Phrase and Fable* (London : Cassell 1994), pp. 431-2, thus: \"*nil carborundum* or *illegitimi nil carborundum* A mock-Latin catchphrase meaing \'don\'t let the bastards grind you down\'. \'Carborundum\' is the tradename for an extremely hard form of silicon carbide used to make grinding wheels. The phrase nil carborundum, which was used by Henry Livings in 1962 for the title of a play, is an echo of the Latin tag from Horace\'s *Carmen*, *nil desperandum*, meaning never say die, despair of nothing. The catchphrase was widely used by the US General VINEGAR JOE Stilwell during World War II.\"

The Horace is *Odes* 1.7.27. I especially like this explanation because it starts with a plausible Latin original given a twist (and a grammatically sound one, if \'carborundum\' were a real gerundive), and then moving further away with use.

The phrase is mentioned also (but in even less grammatical form) in Nigel Rees, *Sayings of the Century* (London and Sydney : Unwin 1987), pp. 53-4, as follows: \"The cod-Latin phrase Illegitimi non carborundum for \'Don\'t let the bastards grind you down\' was used by General \'Vinegar Joe\' Stilwell as his motto during the Second World War, though it is not suggested he devised it. Partridge gave it as \'Illegitimis\' and its origins in British army Intelligence very early on in the war. \'Carborundum\' is the trade name for a very hard substance called silicon carbide, used in grinding.\"



Selected response from:

Libero_Lang_Lab
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:56
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +1nil carborundum illigitium
Libero_Lang_Lab
4 +1nobody will beat me (pseudo-Latin)
Eva Blanar


  

Answers


24 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
nil carborundum illigitium


Explanation:
or Illegitimus Non Carborundum
is how it is normally phrased. It means
"Don't let the bastards get you down".

It was inscribed, most famously, on a bracelet or watch, given by a businessman (can't remember his name) to a Conservative MP - one of the ones involved in the various corruption scandals / cash for questions affairs in the 1990s - when said MP was being questioned over his allegedly crooked dealings with the said businessman.




--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-25 13:59:59 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Eva is right in saying that this is mock Latin or \"dog Latin\".

Below is a neat little treatise on the phrases possible origins - credit to one Terrence Lockyer, who suggests that it is a sideways derivation from Horace\'s nil disperandum:

http://omega.cohums.ohio-state.edu:8080/hyper-lists/classics...

\"The best suggestion I have seen for the origin of the dog-latin \'don\'t let the bastards grind you down\' is recorded in (though surely not original with) the paperback second edition of *Brewer\'s Dictionary of 20th-Century Phrase and Fable* (London : Cassell 1994), pp. 431-2, thus: \"*nil carborundum* or *illegitimi nil carborundum* A mock-Latin catchphrase meaing \'don\'t let the bastards grind you down\'. \'Carborundum\' is the tradename for an extremely hard form of silicon carbide used to make grinding wheels. The phrase nil carborundum, which was used by Henry Livings in 1962 for the title of a play, is an echo of the Latin tag from Horace\'s *Carmen*, *nil desperandum*, meaning never say die, despair of nothing. The catchphrase was widely used by the US General VINEGAR JOE Stilwell during World War II.\"

The Horace is *Odes* 1.7.27. I especially like this explanation because it starts with a plausible Latin original given a twist (and a grammatically sound one, if \'carborundum\' were a real gerundive), and then moving further away with use.

The phrase is mentioned also (but in even less grammatical form) in Nigel Rees, *Sayings of the Century* (London and Sydney : Unwin 1987), pp. 53-4, as follows: \"The cod-Latin phrase Illegitimi non carborundum for \'Don\'t let the bastards grind you down\' was used by General \'Vinegar Joe\' Stilwell as his motto during the Second World War, though it is not suggested he devised it. Partridge gave it as \'Illegitimis\' and its origins in British army Intelligence very early on in the war. \'Carborundum\' is the trade name for a very hard substance called silicon carbide, used in grinding.\"






    Reference: http://www.bastards.org/fun/note.htm
    Reference: http://www.aliensurgeon.com/inc.htm
Libero_Lang_Lab
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:56
Native speaker of: English

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Eva Blanar: Great background! Thanks
3 hrs
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43 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
nobody will beat me (pseudo-Latin)


Explanation:



    Reference: http://www.e2ni.com/~latingreek/humor/Quasi-latin.htm#illigi...
Eva Blanar
Hungary
Local time: 05:56
Native speaker of: Hungarian

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Libero_Lang_Lab: Eva - I bow to your superior knowledge of Latin, and you are clearly right - but even if it is grammatically incorrect, this is most definitely the phrase that has come to be used in English
21 mins
  -> Thanks for the compliments and yes, the question probably is about the widely used expression (existing in several versions, I assume).
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