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I've looked around some forums and the translation I've got so far is:

Ne Obliviscaris, Semper Commemoras

I'm still not sure if this is correct. The context of the phrase that I wish to get the translation of, is like telling someone, or ourselves to never forget always remember. It's with a 'calm' tonality, not as 'energetic' as an imperative phrase. If that made sense.

Did I get it correct? I'm open for other suggestions. It's for a tattoo design, and I wish to have the phrase to sound great.

Update

Received a generous input from Joonas Limavirta. The desired translation I inquire would be in a soft imperative tone. Something like you want to say to yourself, "hey, never forget. And always remember," to the mirror.

Numquam obliviscere, commemora semper. Never forget, remember always.

Thus far, I am quite satisfied with this translation but still open for any kind of other suggestions and inputs.

Thank you

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It is not fully correct, but it is very close.

If you want to make the instruction softer than imperative, then present conjunctive (also called subjunctive) is a good way to go. It is more like "may you remember" than "remember!", if that is what you are after. In idiomatic English you wouldn't usually use "may you" — the Latin conjunctive is far less heavy. See this question about the difference between these two moods.

For "do not forget" your translation ne obliviscaris is excellent if you go with conjunctive. The form of commemoras is indicative, whereas the conjunctive would be commemores. The indicative means a factual statement "you remember", which is not a guidance or an order, so that is out of the picture. The bigger question is whether his is the verb you want.

We have a list of free online Latin dictionaries. For the ones that have English to Latin translation, you can check out options, and any of them will do for checking whether a verb has the tone you want it to.

Here are some options:

  • commemorare: call to mind, be mindful of, keep in mind, remember, recall, relate, mention
  • memorari: remember, be mindful of
  • recordari: think over, bethink one's self of, be mindful of, call to mind, remember, recollect, think of, meditate, ponder
    (This one comes from cor, "heart", if that matters.)
  • scire: know, understand, perceive, remember
  • fovere: keep warm, cherish, foster
  • meminisse: remember, bear in mind

These are just some that came to mind. Commemorare is a good choice, but it is up to you to decide whether there are better ones. You told in a comment that it is the most suitable one for you, but a future reader looking for a similar motto might prefer something else.

Semper is a good translation for "always", and it makes sense to balance the two sides of the whole phrase so that both have a verb and smaller word of some kind. To better mirror semper, you could also use numquam ("never") instead of ne ("do not").

You can also play with word order. Chiasm — inverting the word orders in the opposing parts of the phrase — is my suggestion, but not necessary. The only crucial part in the word order is to have numquam and obliviscere together and also semper and commemora together. Within these word pairs you can do as you like. To keep the two pairs separate, a comma or a row break will help.

So, one option with conjunctive would be:

Numquam obliviscaris, commemores semper.
[May you] never forget, [may you] remember always.

Inclusion of "may you" is optional. I just wanted to describe the tone by that translation option. If you want imperatives, use obliviscere or commemora instead. So, to make it more of a recommendation than a wish, you could choose:

Numquam obliviscere, commemora semper.
Never forget, remember always.

Based on the comments, I think this is the best offer I have. But please wait for others to weigh in before making a final decision.

  • This is wonderful, thank you for your input. And I really love your suggestion. As for the verb, commemorare sounds the most fitting to my request. As for the english translation/interpretation, how could we change the [may you] mood? Although it should be imperative, after you pointed it out, it sounded a little bit off from what I initially desired. If I get what you said correctly, the word commemores made it to sound like the [may you] one. How would it sound if we change it to 'commemoras semper? thank you so much – Virulence Jun 17 at 12:03
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    @user4875 I'm glad it's useful! I updated the answer. I now think that imperative is more suitable for you. Whichever way you go, indicative is not good as it simply makes a statement instead of ordering or wishing. I understood that you want to express a goal, not a fact. // Please take a look at our site tour and make use of your right to vote when you reach 15 reputation points. I'm sure we have other questions that you'd find interesting, too. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 17 at 12:20
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    @Virulence Memento is the imperative of meminisse. The verb is a little unusual in its forms. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 18 at 2:37
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    @Virulence I hope there will be other suggestions, but we'll see. Once you've made your mind, please accept the answer you found most useful. Then others will know that the case is closed, so to say. And do vote up all the posts you find useful; that's a good way to thank people here. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 18 at 6:01
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    @Virulence Others did weigh in with a couple of votes up and none down, so it's not just my word. I added a little note in the word order paragraph: The only crucial part in the word order is to have numquam and obliviscere together and also semper and commemora together. Within these word pairs you can do as you like. To keep the two pairs separate, a comma or a row break will help. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 20 at 15:56

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