Main | Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wyoming's Is Best

Via StrangeMaps, above are the mottos of all states, translated into English where necessary. Embiggen to read the small states or go to the link for a list.
The two-and-a-half score state mottos display a wide variety, of quotations, languages and underlying messages. English is the favourite language, but not even by half: only 24 state mottos are originally in English; Latin, once the language for all solemn occasions (and not just exorcisms), accounts for 20. Two mottos are in native languages, and French, Spanish, Italian and Greek account for one each. The system of checks and balances seems to work for mottos too: if the national motto is overtly religious (In God We Trust), then only six of the state ones refer to God, either directly or obliquely. Most deal with secular rights, and the readiness to defend them. The Bible is tied with Cicero as the source for the most mottos (three), while classical literature has proven a particularly fertile breeding ground for inspirational quotes (mottos originate with Lucretius, Aesop, Virgil, Brutus and Archimedes).
I never knew the New York state motto was "Excelsior". Isn't that what they stuff teddy bears with?

(Tipped by JMG reader Adam)

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