You are here:

Latin/coat of arms

Advertisement


Question
my son has to design a family 'coat of arms' for his homework. Could you explain how to say "before my family comes nothing" as this is what he wants to put in a banner below the shield. Many Thanks

Answer
Hello,

I think that the best translation of  the motto you mention would be “Nihil familiā carius” as well as “Familiā nihil carius”(literally, “Nothing [is] dearer/more precious  than [my] family”) just to point out that nothing comes before the family.

Also, you could say: “Nihil ante familiam” as well as “Ante familiam nihil”, literally meaning “Before [my] family [comes ] nothing", since Latin omits both “my” and “comes” that are implied.

Please note that Latin word order can be different from English as Latin  is an inflected language where syntactical relationships are indicated by the ending, not by the order of words.

Therefore you can say correctly “ Nihil familiā carius” as well as “Familiā nihil carius” or “Nihil ante familiam”  as well as “Ante familiam nihil”.
So, your son can choose the sentence he prefers.

Read more below.

Best regards,
Maria
______________________________________________________
Note that in “ Nihil familiā carius” / “Familiā nihil carius:

-Nihil (subject,neuter pronoun)= nothing
-familiā(ablative of comparison  of FAMILIA, 1st.declension) = than [my] family
-carius(comparative neuter of the adjective CARUS agreed with NIHIL) = dearer/more precious


Also, in “Nihil ante familiam” / “Ante familiam nihil”:

-Nihil (subject,neuter pronoun ) = nothing [comes]
-ante(preposition which takes the accusative case)= before
-familiam (accusative of FAMILIA) = [my] family.
In classical Latin the noun FAMILIA (nominative case) indicated  all the members of a household  rather than a family in the strict sense of the word, i. e. wife and children.
Later however FAMILIA was used to indicate a family in modern sense.

Latin

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Maria

Expertise

I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.

Experience

Over 25 years teaching experience.

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

This expert accepts donations:

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.