Latin/Desiderata

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Question
I've been trying to find a translation for the last line of the poem Desiderata; "Strive to be happy." So far I have come up with:

1. "Nitere ad laetitiam"
2. "Enitere ut felix sis"

Could you tell me which, if either, is correct? I have a feeling the second one is wrong, but I am unsure.

Thank you for your time!

Answer
Hello,

"Strive to be happy" can be translated correctly as follows:

-“Felicem esse stude” or “Felices esse studēte” (literally, “Strive to be happy"),depending on whether the imperative mood is addressed to only one person (STUDE) or to many persons (STUDETE).

-“Felicem esse contende”  or “Felices esse contendĭte”(literally, “Strive to be happy"),depending on whether the imperative mood is addressed to only one person (CONTENDE) or to many persons (CONTENDITE).


-“Ad felicitatem contende” or “Ad felicitatem contendĭte” (literally, “Strive after/for happiness”), depending on whether the imperative mood is addressed to only one person (CONTENDE) or to many persons (CONTENDITE).

-“Ad felicitatem nitĕre” or “Ad felicitatem nitimĭni” (literally, “Strive after/for happiness”), depending on whether the imperative mood is addressed to only one person (NITERE) or to many persons (NITIMINI).


Please note that Latin uses different endings for the 2nd.person singular and the 2nd.person plural of the imperative, differently from English where e.g. the form “Strive”  is used either when you are addressing to only one person(2nd.person singular) or to many persons (2nd.person plural). Therefore Latin uses STUDE and STUDETE, CONTENDE and CONTENDITE, NITERE and NITIMINI for the 2nd.person singular and the 2nd.person plural respectively.

In short, if you are addressing to only one person, you must say:STUDE, CONTENDE, NITERE, whereas if the command/exhortation is addressed to many persons, you must say:STUDETE, CONTENDITE, NITIMINI.

As all the above sentences are correct, you can choose the one you like best, though I think that you should use “Ad felicitatem contende” or “Ad felicitatem contendĭte” that correspond perfectly to the concept of "Strive to be happy" in the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.   


As for the translations you have come up with, i.e. "Nitĕre ad laetitiam" and  "Enitĕre ut felix sis”,  please note that LAETITIA (accusative LAETITIAM) means “joy” /”pleasure”/” delight” rather than “happiness”, while ENITOR (whose imperative, 2nd.person singular is  ENITERE)means “I struggle”  rather than  “I strive”.
They are however  grammatically correct, but I would not use them.


Hope all is clear enough.Anyway, should you have some doubts, do not hesitate to ask me again.
Best regards,
Maria
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Note that:

-Strive = STUDE (2nd.person singular, imperative of STUDEO) or STUDETE (2nd.person plural, imperative of STUDEO ) / CONTENDE (2nd.person singular, imperative of CONTENDO)  CONTENDITE (2nd.person plural, imperative of CONTENDO) / NITERE (2nd.person singular, imperative of the deponent verb NITOR)  /NITIMINI (2nd.person plural, imperative of NITOR)

-to be = ESSE (infinitive of SUM, I am)

-happy = FELICEM (accusative singular   of the adjective FELIX, happy) or FELICES (accusative plural of FELIX).

Please note that you can also say AD  FELICITATEM meaning “after/for[AD] happiness[FELICITATEM]” depending on the imperative “Strive” in "Strive after/for happiness".

As you can see,Latin word order can be variable because Latin is an inflected language where  syntactical relationships are indicated by the ending, not by the order of words.

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