January 11, 2007

Mendacium semper in multiloquio

In English: There is always a lie in too much talk.

This is a saying that definitely loses something in translation, since the Latin features a very nice sound-play with mendacium, "lie," and multiloquio, "much-talking." The idea, of course, is that while words are normally supposed to convey information, an excess of words can be doing just the opposite: misleading you with false information.

I won't go into the tedious details, but I was prompted to choose this as today's proverb since in my personal life, I endured a truly awful personal encounter yesterday that was the result of someone (not me, I promise!) running off at the mouth and managing to convey some serious misinformation in the process.

The Latin word mendax has entered English in the word "mendacious." The word multiloquium, however, is something for which we do not have a good English equivalent. You can find the Latin word already in Plautus, who also uses the parallel word, parumloquium, "little-speaking."

The word multiloquium also became part of the Christian Latin vocabulary, and you can find a saying very similar to today's proverb in the Vulgate translation of the Biblical book of Proverbs 10:19, in multiloquio non deerit peccatum, qui autem moderatur labia sua prudentissimus est., "In much-speaking there will be no lack of sin, while he who controls his lips is most wise."

So, in the spirit of today's proverb, I will not go on to say more - except for today's proverb read out loud:

108. Mendacium semper in multiloquio.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

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1 comment:

CoolCat said...

Perhaps a potential soundplay in English could be between "lies" and "loudmouth"? Not an exact translation, but still...