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"Ex ovis pullus non natis serò fit ullus" is the name of an EP by Finnish experimental hip hop duo Paperi T & Khid. According to Paperi T, the phrase might mean "huonoista munista ei voi tulla hyviä poikasia" (in Finnish), but he is not sure, and says someone who had studied Latin disagreed with him. My poor attempt to translate the previous sentence into English: "Out of bad eggs, good chicks cannot be born (or "cannot become")".

What does the phrase mean and is it grammatically correct?

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  • Welcome to the site! (Please take a look at our quick tour.) I took the liberty to edit a bit to clarify that the offered translation is in Finnish. Aika harva täällä osaa suomea...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Dec 25 '20 at 19:38
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First of all, the word order is a little convoluted, but that is nothing unusual in Latin. Putting things in a more natural order so that related words come together, the name becomes:

Ex ovis non natis sero fit ullus pullus.
Out of unborn eggs any chick comes late.

You can also replace "comes" with "is made". I assumed here that non goes with natis. Perhaps ovum non natum (lit. "unborn egg") means an "egg that has not been laid". (I am not sure if nasci is used for eggs that way.) Assuming the Latin phrase was composed by someone who knows the language, I think it means:

It takes time for a chick to come from an egg that has not been laid yet.
Munimattomasta munasta tulee hitaasti poikanen.

These translations might not be the most idiomatic, but that is the only message I can read from the phrase.

The suggested translation in the question speaks of good chicks and bad eggs, but in Latin there is no reference of either kind of quality. I would say that the Latin phrase is grammatically correct but weird. The meaning is not what offered.

As a side remark, I do find it weird that the artist does not quite know what the title of their piece of art means.

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