In the film, "The Terminator" (1984), the cyborg's chilling declaration-of-intent: "I'll be back!", has become something of an international catchphrase. It's easy to translate it into Latin:

"ego revenio!" = "I am coming back!".

Alternatively, must it be the future tense:

"ego reveniam!" = "I will come back!"?

Sadly, translations of English cliches, into Latin, often kills the rhetorical force e.g. A variation on Caesar (Veni Vidi Vici), and "Friends, Romans, Countrymen...": A Translation Problem from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", because the Latin words do not rhyme; lack an alliteration pattern; simply do not flow together. Here, "ego", is added to provide the required emphasis (not normally necessary with a first-person singular verb) and, it rhymes with "revenio".

My English-to-Latin translations are not always successful. How about this one?

Is there a better way to translate, "I'll be back!"?

  • 2
    Yes, it must be the future tense. English often uses the present continuous tense for future plans (and English isn't the worst offender in this regard – in colloquial German the future tense is downright rare), but Latin generally insists on the future. Mar 29, 2023 at 20:57
  • @Sebastian Koppehel: What does "generally" mean, here? Allen & Greenough section 468: "The Present, especially in colloquial language and poetry is often used for the Future e.g. "imusne sessum" (De Or. 3.17) = "Shall we take a seat?" = "Are we going to sit?". A catchphrase could be construed as a colloquialism--why not? Therefore, "ego revenio" = "I am coming back" = "I'll be back!". (I need the present tense to achieve the rhyming rhetorical force.).
    – tony
    Mar 30, 2023 at 8:31
  • 1
    I was not aware that this is "often" the case, and some of A&G's examples seem somewhat "special" to me (e.g. a sentence that literally begins with hodie). But okay. Still, the Terminator's vow to return seems not particularly colloquial to me. Personally, I would stick to the future tense. Mar 30, 2023 at 11:46
  • 1
    I agree with @SebastianKoppehel. I believe the immediate future can be replaced by a present, but when it's about a future promise, I don't think I've ever seen it in the present.
    – cmw
    Mar 30, 2023 at 17:51
  • 1
    given the English's use of a contraction (albeit one that is almost required to avoid emphasis), and Latin's general pro-drop tendencies, I'd definitely drop the "ego" and just leave the verb on its own
    – Tristan
    Mar 31, 2023 at 14:05


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