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The phrase "this is the way" is used multiple times in the Disney+ series, The Mandalorian. The phrase is used to affirm that taking an action is done because this is the way that the Mandalorians as an order/group do things. To me, there's a reverence to the phrase that says doing something this way upholds the ideals and creed that they live by.

How would this best be expressed in Latin? My first thought was something like this:

Hic Modus Est

Are there better word choices for this? If this happens to be the best choice of words, what is the best word order to capture the feeling of the original?

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    The "way" in this sense is perhaps best rendered as mos (manner, custom). To the Romans, their revered national custom was the mos maiorum. Jan 20, 2022 at 22:30
  • Ironically, mos was my initial choice but I swapped it out for modus. 😂
    – Adam
    Jan 21, 2022 at 0:24
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    I would lean more towards via myself, I feel like the choice of “way” in the Mandalorian script was meant to echo both the sense “a method, style, or manner of doing something” as well as “a road, track, path, or street for traveling along” (the latter in a more metaphorical sense). Jan 21, 2022 at 16:41
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    @D.A.Hosek That is the reasoning I gave for preferring via in my answer below.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 22, 2022 at 14:38

3 Answers 3

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Vocabulary

There are a couple of options for "way" (translation suggestions from the linked L&S):

  • Via: way, method, manner (II.A); the right way, the true method (II.B)
  • Ratio: conduct, procedure, mode, manner, method, way (II.B.1.c.α–β)
  • Ordo: a regular military formation (II.B.1)
  • Modus: way, manner, mode, method (II.B)
  • Mos: manner, custom, way, practice

Depending on what aspect you want to emphasize, any of these will do. To me modus or ratio feels too clinical and cold. Perhaps ordo is more about staying in line than following the correct customs, but it makes sense in both more and less literal meanings. My preference is mos or via, with a slight preference for via if it is not just a way to be but also a way to go forward.

Structure

When translating the whole catchphrase to Latin, it is good to make note of the English definite article "the". It is not emphasized in the delivery in the series, but replace with "a" and the meaning is changed. Latin does not make the distinction, so it might be best to add something to replace the article, like hic est mos noster or haec est via vera.

Given the way the phrase is used, I think it need not be a full sentence. In English "the way" would probably be too short, having only two syllables, but I think a plain mos noster or via vera work well.

A different echo?

In The Mandalorian the catchphrase "this is the way" is often often used so that one says it first and then others reply with the same. It might work well to modify the response, e.g. via nostra — via vera.

Goal and context

The question is, as usual, what it is that you want to achieve. If you want to reach the same dramatic effect when retelling the story in Latin, then I would probably go with my last suggestion. If you want a faithful translation so that people who know the series and Latin will recognize it, then I would pick something else.

I don't think there's a good translation that is simultaneous faithful in literal content, nuance, and dramatic effect.

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    I wondered about sic 'thus' instead of hic, to convey 'thus' (i.e. 'this way') is the way.
    – dbmag9
    Jan 21, 2022 at 19:00
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    @dbmag9 I wondered about that too. The L&S entry for sic is long and I didn't read every little bit, but I couldn't find precedent for such a pithy use of sic. It sounds idiomatic enough to me, but I'm still unsure. Do you happen to know an example from the literature or a dictionary that could serve as an example for sic via or something similar?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 22, 2022 at 14:37
  • If there's an example of it being used that way I like it with via. It adds that touch of extra importance.
    – Adam
    Jan 22, 2022 at 14:39
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    @JoonasIlmavirta I'm way too amateur a Latinist to have a reference, I'm afraid, although I'm heartened that you thought of sic too. My 'no references only vibes' version would be sic est via or sic est mos (or, come to think of it, maybe even just a sic est 'so it is') but I don't have the weight of any meaningful expertise behind that.
    – dbmag9
    Jan 23, 2022 at 9:52
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Although I am no scholar, I humbly offer that the simplest answer may be best: Haec est via.

An edition of the Latin Vulgate renders Isaiah 30:21 thus:

Et aures tuae audient verbum post tergum monentis: Haec est via; ambulate in ea, et non declinetis neque ad dexteram, neque ad sinistram.

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In this context, we can use the Latin word "via" for way. Here are some reasons for doing so:

  1. The word "via" has a similar usage in the Bible.

Dicit ei Jesus: Ego sum via, et veritas, et vita. Nemo venit ad Patrem, nisi per me.

Jesus said to Thomas: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

(John 14:6)

  1. The phrase "viam sapientiae" (way of wisdom) also gets used in the Bible.

Viam sapientiæ monstrabo tibi; ducam te per semitas æquitatis.

I will show you the way of wisdom; I will lead you across the narrow footpaths of justice.

(Proverbs 4:11)

  1. The phrase "via media" is often used to translate Aristotle's concept of a "middle way" (μεσότης = mean or μέση οδός = middle way).

Ὅτι μὲν οὖν ἐστὶν ἡ ἀρετὴ ἡ ἠθικὴ μεσότης

Now that moral virtue is a mean, or middle state, ...

(Nicomachean Ethics Book 2)

So I propose the Latin phrase: "Haec est via."

Haec est via. This is the way.

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