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I am trying to translate the phrase If the laws of physics no longer apply in the future, god help you. I have some problems to decide how to translate no longer to Latin*, in Spanish it would be more like Si las leyes de la física han dejado de aplicar en el futuro, dios le ayude, the translation is very literal, and preserves the connotation of trying to be just stating facts without showing emotion.

I am considering this attempt

Sí légés physicae déseruit agere futúró, ita Deus adjuvat té

My number one worrie is if agere is the appropriate verb to translate apply. And not forget to include god in singular.

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  • Desinere + inf. is quite similar to Spanish dejar de + inf.
    – brianpck
    Dec 6, 2023 at 16:25
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    What does "I had stopped to walk in the sideway" and "I had leave to walk in the sideway" mean?
    – Draconis
    Dec 6, 2023 at 19:49
  • @Draconis I cannot the use of something like "No longer" instead of something like "dejar de"
    – Dolphínus
    Dec 6, 2023 at 20:41
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    @Dolphínus In English, "stopped to walk" means "stopped doing something else in order to walk", and "leave to walk" means "permission from an authority to walk". Neither of them means anything close to "no longer", so I'm not sure what you're asking for in a translation.
    – Draconis
    Dec 6, 2023 at 21:34
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    @Dolphínus I'm still not sure what you're asking. You're saying you want this English phrase translated, but you don't want the translation to follow the English phrase, and to say something else instead?
    – Draconis
    Dec 7, 2023 at 0:07

4 Answers 4

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A 'literal' translation could be:

si quando leges physicae valere desiverint, dominus te adiuvet.

'If ever the laws of physics will have ceased to apply (to be valid), may God help you.'

However, as I said in a comment, typically, when people these days say 'God help you' in such contexts, they really mean something more like 'it's very unfortunate for you' or, to put it more archaically, 'woe to you.' With this in mind, another (better, in my view) option is:

si quando leges physicae valere desiverint, vae tibi.

Although less 'literal' in terms of word-for-word translation, it captures the essential spirit of the original in a way that's idiomatic for classical Latin.

For conditions with a future perfect in the 'if' clause and a vae phrase standing in for the 'then' clause, see Martial, epigram 5.33:

carpere causidicus fertur mea carmina: qui sit,
nescio: si sciero, vae tibi, causidice.

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  • forgot, god in singular must be perserved
    – Dolphínus
    Dec 7, 2023 at 5:02
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    @Dolphínus That requirement is already fulfilled by the first variation offered in this answer. Also, I have to add: Please put more thought into your questions. I've seen it happen several times that someone answers your question and then you comment saying that there was another constraint that you didn't mention in the original question. Moving targets are very frustrating to those who try to help.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Dec 7, 2023 at 14:55
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While others probably have better thoughts on "the laws of physics", "no longer" has a fairly straightforward translation: nōn jam.

And while auxiliāre is a common word for "help", I would go with adjuvāre; off the top of my head, there's a famous piece called Domine ad adjuvāndum mē festinā ("Lord, make haste to help me") which is the first thing to come to mind when I think of "God help you".

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I'd go for something like:

Si physicæ leges non amplius operabuntur, auxiliet te Deus

The key points here are the following:

  • I think physicæ could arguably also be phisicæ artis, since the laws have been formulated by physics practitioners. Moreover, physica is quite a broad word.
  • Non amplius is an idiomatic way of saying no longer.
  • Operabuntur, is the verb operor (deponent, i.e., looking as passive voice but being active voice, with to have effect among its meanings), in future subjunctive tense. The subjunctive is needed by the conditional, the future makes a vague complement (like in the future) redundant, I think. In Spanish this tense used to exist, is sometimes still taught, but seldom used in real life: regular forms are yo amare (from amar), yo corriere (from correr), yo viviere (from vivir).
  • I am not convinced about auxiliet, but it works. Adiuvet also works. Both are synonyms. If you want something more idiomatic in ecclesiastical Latin —since the wording sounds quite monotheistic to me—, I'd go for misereatur tui Deus [also: misereatur tibi], instead (may God have mercy on you/que Dios se apiade de ti). If you want to take this suggestion, a possible translation would be:

Si physicæ leges non amplius operabuntur, misereatur tui Deus

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  • Two things: (1) Are you sure amplius has a temporal sense? I read non amplius as saying that they won't go any further than they currently do--not that they will cease altogether. (2) I think misereatur should take the genitive: misereatur tui.
    – brianpck
    Dec 6, 2023 at 18:54
  • @brianpck (1) "Comp.: amplĭus , more, longer, further, besides (syn.: ultra, praeterea); of time, number, and action" (L&S), cf. Act 13:34 "Quod autem suscitavit eum a mortuis, amplius jam non reversurum in corruptionem", Hbr 10:17 "iniquitatum eorum jam non recordabor amplius". (2) You're right, gen. is the best case. Fixed. I think this is not the first time I do this. L&S cites the use with acc. as dub., FWIW, the CVG has instances of [misereor] + in + abl., and of course there is miserere nobis. (L&S also cites the use of abl.)
    – Rafael
    Dec 6, 2023 at 19:30
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    Thanks for the references! Now I'm curious. Regarding the Vulgate references, it's interesting that Jerome also adds iam: it wouldn't sound quite right without the extra adverb (and in Greek it's just [mek]eti). Regarding L&S, it's true that amplius can mean "for more time," but I'm not sure what the force of non amplius is: it sounds strange to say, "Caesar non amplius est in Gallia."
    – brianpck
    Dec 6, 2023 at 19:43
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    @brianpck I see your point. I felt iam didn't sound just right with the si+subj. clause (I know, this is absolutely opinion-based). Besides, iam seems optional (emphatic?). There are instances in the CVG w/o iam: e.g., Gn 44:23, "Nisi venerit frater vester minimus vobiscum, non videbitis amplius faciem meam", Act 8:39 "Cum autem ascendissent de aqua, Spiritus Domini rapuit Philippum, et amplius non vidit eum eunuchus", Ps 87:6 "sicut vulnerati dormientes in sepulchris, quorum non es memor amplius". See my CVG search
    – Rafael
    Dec 6, 2023 at 20:02
  • It seems to me that when people say 'God help you' in such contexts, they typically mean just, in archaic terms, 'woe to you.' I can't feeling that the use of auxiliare or adiuvare here is unnecessary, and that a simple vae tibi or the like would be more appropriate. Though perhaps OP wants something more literal.
    – cnread
    Dec 6, 2023 at 21:18
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Si una die naturae leges non valent, Dominus te adiuvet.

Or as a pessimistic sigh

Cum dies venit, quando physicae leges non valent, Domine adiuva

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    I'd think you want either future or future perfect in the cum clause of the second sentence, and a subjunctive in the protasis of the first.
    – TKR
    Oct 30, 2023 at 22:44
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    Si una die strikes me as a bit strange in the first sentence. I'd recommend something like si quando instead.
    – cnread
    Nov 5, 2023 at 5:16

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