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I always heard and read the expression "status quo" but I just found the alternative spelling "statu quo" in the Italian translation of Motivational Interviewing by Miller e Rollnick.

Which is more correct?

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    Does this answer your question? Essentially, it should be either status quo or in statu quo.
    – cmw
    May 30, 2021 at 15:41
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    Thank you for linking it. I had seen it but I missed that there was some discussions about my question as well. However, I think this is not a duplicate and there is some value in it, also because it is hard to find the answer in the linked question. May 30, 2021 at 16:10

2 Answers 2

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Both are correct Latin, with slightly different meanings.

Status quō literally means "the state in which [things currently are]". It's normally used as a noun, as in "maintaining the status quo".

Statū quō literally means "[in] the state in which [things currently are]". I've only seen this form used as an adverb or adjective, usually preceded by in; cmw quotes the OED quoting Watson from 1602:

The seculars are but in statu quo prius, and cannot be in a worse then they are in at this present.

That is, the seculars are in the same state as before. But I wouldn't use this form as a noun on its own; I wouldn't talk about *preserving the statu quo, for example.

However, I wouldn't generally expect correct Latin case marking in other languages. It might be pedantically correct to talk about "preserving the statum quo", "referring to the statui quo", or "compared to the statu quo"—but English (and Italian) don't do this sort of case marking on nouns; it's simply not part of their grammar. So I wouldn't be surprised to see either of these forms generalized to all situations, like how we don't talk about planting a cactum (or multiple cactos) or going to the circui.

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    If you are correct, the Italian translation is incorrect, being "Affermazioni Orientate al Mantenimento dello Statu Quo", literally "Statements aimed at maintaining the Statu Quo", which is a bad translation of "Sustain Talk". May 30, 2021 at 17:40
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    @MicheleDorigatti Added a note about that. It's technically incorrect Latin, but Latin case marking doesn't generally survive borrowing into other languages.
    – Draconis
    May 30, 2021 at 17:46
  • Nice, thank you! May 30, 2021 at 17:55
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"Statu quo" comes from the full expression "in statu quo ante bellum fuerant", literally "in the state things were before the war", with the word "things" being implied. Since the ablative case is necessary to keep the meaning of "in the state" (declension in -u), it would not be correct to say "preserve the statum quo". The correct spelling in latin would always be "statu quo", for it would be the word "things" (or "rea"), if it were written, that would be declined according to the structure of the sentence (here, accusative case).

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  • Welcome to the site! Did you really mean "rea" or is it a typo?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 12, 2023 at 15:08
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    The sentence of which fuerant is the verb is subordinate to statu in this construction, so this is wrong.
    – Cairnarvon
    May 12, 2023 at 18:28
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    But why would a writer not have the liberty of isolating the status from the original expression? Why would we not be allowed to talk about "preserving the status"? It would certainly be possible in Latin. Actually, you can even get on people's nerves by saying status qui (short for status rerum qui ante erat). May 12, 2023 at 20:15

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