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QUESTION: From speaking to people who have studied Latin but are not experts it's hard to get answers, I was wondering if you could help me understand a little bit of Latin.
Is there a Latin phrase "survival of the fittest" or is it "only the fit survive" I had a teacher who kind of gave me an answer but it was never really clear.
If there is a translation for either of these Latin phrases it would be a big help to me, thank you.

ANSWER: Hello,

the expression “Survival of the fittest” cannot be translated word for word since there is no classical Latin term for the English noun “survival”.

Therefore “ Survival of the fittest”  can be translated correctly as follows:

1-“Aptissimus solum quisque superest”, literally meaning "Only the fittest survive”.

or:

2-“Naturalis selectio”, literally meaning :”Natural selection” just to denote that only those who are  the fittest can survive.


As for “Only the fit survive" where there is the positive adjective instead of the superlative, the only way to  translate it correctly into Latin is to use a circumlocution such as the following:

-“Solum qui ad omnia sunt apti supersunt”  (literally, “Only those who are fit for all difficulties survive”)

Please read more below.

Best regards,
Maria
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GRAMMATICAL ANALYSIS.

Note that in “Aptissimus solum quisque superest”, i.e. “Only the fittest survive”:

-Only= SOLUM (adverb)

-the fittest = APTISSIMUS QUISQUE (the pronoun QUISQUE in the nominative singular + the superlative APTISSIMUS  is idiomatically used with superlatives to indicate "all the fittest",for example).

-survive= SUPEREST (3rd.person singular, present indicative of SUPERSUM, I survive. This verb is in the singular as it agrees with the singular APTISSIMUS QUISQUE)
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In “Solum qui ad omnia sunt apti supersunt”, i.e. “Only those who are fit for all difficulties survive”:

-Only = SOLUM

-those who = QUI (nominative masculine plural of this relative pronoun)

-are = SUNT (3rd.person plural, present indicative of SUM, I am)

-fit =APTI (nominative masculine plural of the positive adjective APTUS)

-for =AD (preposition which takes the accusative case)

-all difficulties = OMNIA (literally, “all things”. Accusative neuter plural of OMNIS)

-survive = SUPERSUNT (3rd.person plural agreed with the nominative plural QUI, present indicative of SUPERSUM, I survive)
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In “Naturalis selectio”, i.e.”Natural selection”:

-Natural =NATURALIS (nominative case of this adjective agreed with SELECTIO)

-selection= SELECTIO (nominative case,feminine noun, 3rd.declension)

As you can see, Latin word order is different from English, since Latin is an inflected language where synctatical relationships are indicated by the ending, not by the order of the words.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Wow thank you so much.
you truely are an expert.
one last thing, i was wondering if this made sense because it has English in it so i doubt it.
"Superstes of aptissimum"
"Survival of the fittest"
For a non Latin expert this could make sense to me but I'm not the  expert here.
so does that is grammatically incorrect right?
Mixing English and Latin.
thank you again

Answer
Hello,

Sorry, but “Superstes of aptissimum" is absolutely wrong in Latin, first because the Latin  “superstes” (nominative singular that must be followed by a dative case) means “survivor”; second, because “of” is English not Latin, of course;lastly, because “aptissimum” (nominative or accusative neuter singular, superlative of “aptus”) is grammatically incorrect and moreover sounds absolutely odd in Latin.

In short, “Superstes of aptissimum” is absolutely incorrect and then makes no sense at all in Latin.
As for mixing English and Latin, it is an unreasonable idea!!

Bye,
Maria

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Maria

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I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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