February 09, 2011

Nihil sine labore


Recording also available at iPadio using this link.

Today's saying is Nihil sine labore. In English: "Nothing without effort."

I thought this would be a good follow-up to yesterday's post about Minerva and the Athenian: you have to take responsibility for yourself and work to achieve your own goals. Nothing is going to happen without effort on your part. One of the paradoxes of teaching is that it is really the students who teach themselves; the teacher's effort means nothing if the students do not make an equal or greater effort on their own. Personally, I would love it if all my students took charge of their own learning so that they would keep on learning no matter what happens to me: if I am kidnapped by space aliens, I still want my students to keep on working and keep on learning. If they work, they will learn, with or without me. And if they don't work, they are not going to learn anything. "No pain, no gain," as we say in English: Nihil sine labore.

In terms of Latin grammar, this is another one of those sentences without a verb. You can translate it just as a phrase in English - "Nothing without effort" - but you can also choose to translate it as a complete sentence, if you want: "Nothing (is gained) without effort" or "Nothing (happens) without effort." Latin is quite able to have a sentence where the verb is implied; it is only in English that we really need to have an explicit verb in order to make a complete sentence.

For those of you who are fans of macrons, here is the Latin written with macrons:

Nihil sine labōre.



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