Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Old North Carolina motto lost in translation?

Came across an old book, American Symbols: The Seals and Flags of the Fifty States by M. B. Schnapper, which includes an interesting (and up until now unknown-to-me) history about North Carolina's state seal.

One of Nostre Caroline's early seals (around 1663) includes the phrase "Que Sera Tamen Respexit." This obviously predates the motto of "Esse Quam Videri" (To Be Rather Than To Seem), which was authorized in the 1890s.

The question, for you Latin experts out there, is what does that old motto actually mean?

I went to an expert (an Internet translation site) which spit this out:

"And sera nothwithstanding regard."

Somehow, I don't think this is what King Charles II had in mind.

Obviously, "que sera" means " what will be will be." But what about the rest of it. For the record, Schnapper never divulges it either.

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