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I would like to translate the sentence "Actions speak louder than words" into Latin.

"Actiones seneca" was the translation that Google translate provided. Is that accurate?

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    Different languages can be much more or less compact than others, but it would be a pretty impressive language indeed that had a specific word Seneca for 'speak louder than words'. (Short answer: no, Seneca is the name of a Roman philosopher and statesman, Google Translate has given a particularly terrible piece of nonsense in this case.)
    – dbmag9
    May 20 at 21:36
  • Other websites that translate gave the exact same answer so thank you so much for saving me from a lifetime of embarrasment!! Very grateful here :)
    – Noa
    May 20 at 22:25
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    It is an expression that my recently late father used to say to us all the time and it is what my siblings and I live by. It means words have no value without the actions to back them up. I wanted to translate it into Latin to make it more interesting for a memorial tattoo, so it does have to be literal. I want it to be my father's words. So I am very grateful to dbmag9 for saving me from making a terrible mistake. I will stick to the saying in English. :)
    – Noa
    May 20 at 22:47

1 Answer 1

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The expression

Clarius facta quam verba loquuntur.

... is a literal translation of the English saying, but also a time-honoured Latin expression. I could not determine who coined it -- it does not seem to be ancient -- but judging by the Google Books hits, it has to be at least a few hundred years old. (Sometimes the words get shuffled around a bit, as it happens in Latin, but this seems to be a common version.)

Other Latin expressions with a similar meaning are the curt

Facta, non verba!

(Actions, not (i.e., instead of) words!) and

Acta virum probant.

(The actions prove the man), which seems to originate with a painting by the Dutch master Jan Steen and possibly has a slightly risqué subtext. (Sine dubio et mulierem probant!)

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  • "Clarius facta quam verba loquuntur" is the literal translation of "Actions speak louder than words"?
    – Noa
    May 20 at 23:04
  • @Noa "More clearly" rather than "louder", but otherwise yes.
    – cmw
    May 21 at 1:30
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    @cmw clārius refers to the force and loudness of one's voice and is thus a direct translation of 'louder'. 'more clearly, more distinctly, more comprehensibly' would call for various other translations such as liquidius (of sound), articulātius (of diction), plānius (of sense). May 23 at 20:11
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    @Unbrutal_Russian Please don't put words in my mouth. I think this word is fine for that, and I never said otherwise. That's why I upvoted this answer.
    – cmw
    May 24 at 1:19
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    @Unbrutal_Russian I did not correct anything. I responded to Noa about what the words "literally" mean. I have no problem with Sebastian's answer.
    – cmw
    May 24 at 2:05

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