I've looked up the translation of "Take Credit, Assign Blame" (a pseudo-motto for managers) and I got 'Sume fidem, culpam dare', and then later I found 'Tolle fidem, culpam dare'.

Does this faux-motto convey the attitude of someone who takes credit for successes and assigns blame to underlings when things fail?

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It wouldn't be very idiomatic. In fact, sume fidem and tolle fidem could both mean "abolish trust." I wouldn't go that route.

A major mistake new learners of Latin (and any foreign language) make is to go for a one-to-one translation. Languages however have their own traditions and idiomatic expressions. For these expressions, I'd offer the following:

Te lauda aliosque culpa.

Praise yourself and blame others.

Not only is it more idiomatic, but in Latin laus and culpa are often seen as antonyms. Horace, for example, writes:

Laudatur ab his, culpatur ab illis.

He is praised by some, condemned by others.

To be a more ancient aphorism, you'd probably even see it filled out a bit, though that wouldn't be necessary for a modern motto. Regardless, it could look something like this:

Vincens te lauda; victus alios culpa.

In conquering praise yourself; but, when conquered, blame others.

I just can't see Caesar saying that, though.

  • I wonder if te ipsum (or maybe te ipse) would be more idiomatic than just te? (Also I feel the imperatives might be better placed first, but that's very debatable.) – TKR Feb 16 '17 at 19:29
  • @TKR There's no real rule on placement - there are examples of both (cf. Cicero's iustitiam cole et pietatem). To my ears, lauda te sounds too close to laudate, so I inverted them, but very little thought was otherwise given to the order. – C. M. Weimer Feb 16 '17 at 19:59

Here's another suggestion that reworks your sentence a bit:

Serva lauream; divide culpam.

This literally means:

Keep the [victor's] garland; divide the blame.

A suggestion modelled from Cic.Philipp. II. 11,

Laudes accipe sed onera alios.

  • 1
    A good parallel, but I think it's a pretty different idea: "accept the praise, divide the work" (not the "blame") – brianpck Feb 16 '17 at 21:01
  • Is it possible that you have misread onera as opera? Colloquially, 'Take the praise, but let others carry the can'. – Tom Cotton Feb 17 '17 at 10:03

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