Word of the Day

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Change of pronouns in translation

The book The Word, by Irving Wallace, presents the Latin sentence Vigilat ut quiescant and then the following words: He guessed the legend to mean: They watch, so that you can be safe. It surprises me that the author gave such a translation, since other instances written in Dutch are simply flawless, which tells me he is somebody who does his homework. Quiescant is the third person plural present subjunctive of the verb quiesco, quiescere, thus so that they can be safe/rest. The you form, the second person singular of the same tense and mood, would be quiescas. If he meant a generic you, maybe the first person plural would be more appropriate, quiescamus, or something like omnes quiescant (everybody can be safe).

Another problem is vigilat. It is the third person singular present indicative, which would give us a literal translation He/She watches. Should I maybe keep in mind the word guessed that the author himself used?

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