Let's call this a "special edition" of Latin Audio Proverbs. This Latin saying, collecta dirige, electa age, is a Latin saying that I composed today at the request of one of my husband's colleagues. Curious? Here's the story!
Apparently there is a slogan in military circles: OODA, which stands for "observe - orient - decide - act." I was asked to render this into Latin, and since I have suggested in previous blog posts that people create their own Latin proverbs and mottoes, I thought I would quickly explain how I created this one.
First of all, I thought about the vocabulary. My goal in creating Latin sayings for modern use is to try to find Latin words that have a strong connection to existing English vocabulary, so that it's possible to make a meaningful connection to the word. In addition, it's important to use parallel vocabulary in order to promote some sound play in the resulting proverb.
The Latin verb observare has somewhat different connotations that English "observe" (it means something more like keeping watch over something, and is related to the same root in English "preserve," for example). So I thought about what we are doing when we observe, which is collecting information. So I decided on the Latin colligere, which gives us the English word "collect."
For "orient," I also had to avoid the Latin origin of this word. The Latin verb oriri means "rise" (and so the "Orient" is the land of the "rising sun"). We use the word "orient" (British "orientate") meaning to arrange, organize, set up in order. So for that I chose the Latin dirigere, meaning "to put in order, line up," which gives us the English word "direct."
English "decide" ultimately comes from a Latin word, decidere, but again that Latin word usually did not have the same meaning as "decide." Instead, I went with Latin eligere, "to choose, select," which is where we get the English word "elect."
For "act," the Latin word facere (as in the word "fact" or "factory") is a possibility, but so is agere (as in the word "act" itself!). I chose agere for reasons of sound play: agere is a good word to pair for dirigere.
So now I've got my four Latin words: colligere (collect), dirigere (order), eligere (choose), and agere (act). Now I need to decide how to put them together grammatically. The English suggests four imperatives in a row, or perhaps four infinitives. Latin, however, has many more possibilities, and in order to create the parallelism that is a hallmark of proverbs, I decide to go with a 2-2 structure, breaking the sequence into two pairs. Each pair can then contain a participle and an imperative. Here's how it came out: collecta dirige, electa age.
Literally, then, in English it means: "the-things-that-are-gathered, arrange them" (collecta dirige), "the-things-that-are-chosen, do them" (electa age).
I'm happy with how this came out, since there is a double pattern of sound play, with collecta-electa making one very nice pair, and dirige-age making another nice pair. Parallel structures and sound play are hallmarks of Latin proverbs, and I am glad to have found a way to render the "OODA" (observe - orient - decide - act) into a pseudo-proverb that really does sound like a Latin proverb, I think!
So here is the neo-proverb read out loud:
Collecta dirige, electa age.
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