Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ex Uno Plura

Marc, this one's for you:


Following up on my exceedingly good post, Zero, One, Many, I want to suggest a revision of the national motto, which has always been E pluribus unum, "Out of many, one."

I think it's about time we inverted that motto to reflect the changes in our national values. Our new motto would be E unum pluribus, or, "Out of one, many." Unless I'm mistaken, it does seem that diversification rather than unification has become our goal, and I have always believed that clear articulation of goals is important to productivity. You wouldn't wear a "Vote Republican" button and then work hard to elect a Democrat, so why should we carry around this burdensome, outdated phrase that no longer reflects our national goal?

Of course, just as our quest for union brought us into civil war and eventually to discover the ennui of unum, I'm sure our quest for diversity will bring us to civil war and allow us to discover the ennui of pluribus, but what else is there to do?

Some day, a nation will rise whose only motto is E pluribus unum; E unum pluribus, etc., etc., and that will be one fine place to live most of the time.

**Update: Looks like I'm not the first to think of this, which makes me a slow learner, but confirms that it is a reasonable idea. Language Log even suggests that my reconfiguration is ungrammatical, but my common-sense inversion seems perfectly practical to me. Here is the preferred officially grammatical translation. Any thoughts, Wishydig Buppy!--you're on chapter 11 by now?

1 comment:

Insignificant Wrangler said...


Of course, just as our quest for union brought us into civil war and eventually to discover the ennui of unum, I'm sure our quest for diversity will bring us to civil war and allow us to discover the ennui of pluribus, but what else is there to do?


Outstanding.