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We are creating our own family crest, and would like a translation of a lyric "no freedom til we're equal". I've looked on Google Translate, but quickly realised it's going to end up reading like a dodgy tattoo. I can see that changing the wording on this slightly, gives very different translations, so I guess I'm looking for the closest in style and meaning. Any help would be appreciated.

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    Hi and welcome to the site! That's a nice question, but in order to be on-topic it is expected that you show some previous effort at translating. Do you mind giving it a try? – Rafael Jul 2 '18 at 19:45
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Your motto made me recall Ovid's famous line:

Donec eris felix multos numerabis amicos.
As long as you are happy you will have many friends.

Imitating this and holding on to hexameter, I arrived at this suggestion:

Donec eris mihi par poteris tibi vivere liber.
As long as you are my equal you can live your own life free.

This is not exactly what you wished. I needed some poetic licence to fit the metric constraints, but I personally feel that hexameter makes a motto more classy.

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The following phrase should suit you just fine if your desire is an entirely literal translation, rather than something more pragmatic:

Lībertās nūlla dōnec aequālēs sumus.

or Lībertātem nūllam habēbimus dōnec aequālēs sumus.

Which translates literally to:

No freedom until we are equal.

We shall have no freedom until we are equal.

I included habēbimus in the original phrase as I felt that it made more clear to whom the freedom would belong; however, it can be dropped without removing any critical meaning.

Since you mentioned that this phrase would be included in a family crest and a tattoo, you probably don't want either to have the orthography of my previously provided quote, but rather, in the orthography of Classical Latin (all capitals, lack of a letter uU, apices marking long vowels, etc):

LIBERTAS•NVLLA•DONEC•AEQVALES•SVMVS

or LIBERTATEM•NVLLAM•HABEBIMVS•DONEC•AEQVALES•SVMVS

But, the final style is obviously up to you. You can read more about the orthography of Classical Latin (with both formal and informal orthographies described) here.

  • Not sure if donec needs a subjunctive, or it is optional. Donec aequales simus? – Rafael Jul 2 '18 at 20:50
  • @Rafael Are you familiar with donec eris felix multos numerabis amicos? – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 2 '18 at 20:51
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    @Rafael A quick glance at some relevant sources (namely this: dcc.dickinson.edu/grammar/latin/dum-d%C5%8Dnec-and-quoad) seems to indicate that the present, future, and future perfect indicative can be/are used with dōnec. – Ethan Bierlein Jul 2 '18 at 20:54
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I wasn't, thank you. But in your cite, both verbs are in future. Maybe donec aequales erimus, then? The combo donec+present indicative sounds counter-intuitive to me – Rafael Jul 2 '18 at 20:57
  • @EthanBierlein, sounds convincing. Thank you! – Rafael Jul 2 '18 at 20:59

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