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(In English below.)

Eftersom det inte finns någon korrekt motsvarighet till ordet ”bildning” i engelskan, kan jag bara ställa denna fråga på svenska.

Finns det något latinskt uttryck som motsvarar ”bildning är det som stannat kvar när man glömt vad det var man lärde sig”?


The Swedish word "bildning" means education, but not in the sense that refers tho superficial knowledge. It means the growth of your character and personality as a result of education. I can't find an equivalent word in English, but the German word "Bildung" seems to be close if not equivalent.

I would like to find a Latin expression for the following: "'Bildning' is what is left when that which was actually learned is forgotten."

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    Välkommen! Kan du sammanfatta din fråga på engelska så att flera skulle kunna läsa och svara? Inget ord i engelskan motsvarar "bildning" men man kan förklara målet också på engelska. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 2 '18 at 18:35
  • Thanks for tour prompt answer. I’ll try to translate this into English allthough there is no English word equivalent to the Swedish word ’bildning’. ’Bildning’ means educated, but not in the sense that refers tho superficial knowledge. ’Bildning’ in Swedish means the growth of your carachter and personality as a result of education. Since I can’t find an equivalent word it mat be difficult for non-Swedish to translate the following sentence into Latin as ’bildning’ is the key word of the whole Idea. – Pons Nov 2 '18 at 18:59
  • ’”Bildning” is what is left when that which was actually learned is forgotten’. Is there any expression in Latin for it? – Pons Nov 2 '18 at 19:08
  • It seems like a close parallel to German "Bildung," which many English speakers are familiar with, e.g. a "Bildungsroman." – brianpck Nov 2 '18 at 19:20
  • Thanks. So is there any Latin expression for |”Bildung” is what is left when that which was actually learned is forgotten|? – Pons Nov 2 '18 at 19:30
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The hardest task is to find a good Latin word or other expression for "bildning". I suggest intellegentia (also spelled intelligentia). It refers to understanding as opposed to knowledge, and I believe that is what the Swedish word is all about. (I believe it is essentially synonymous with the Finnish "sivistys".) The linked dictionary entry gives translations like the power of discerning or understanding, discernment, understanding, intelligence, understanding, knowledge, art, skill, taste, connoisseurship, perception, discernment. It is not a perfect match, but the best I could find.

The verb discere (to learn) does not seem to have a past participle, so I will use docere (to teach) instead. The phrasing gets clumsy without participles. I suggest:

Intellegentia est quod remanet omnia docta oblito.

Literla translation:
'Intellegentia' is what remains for the one who has forgotten everything that was taught.

Other words to consider besides intellegentia: eruditio, scientia, cognitio, virtus, cultus, cultura, mos. You can check these out in any online Latin dictionary and see if they seem better to you. You can simply replace the first word in my sentence with any of these.

  • Cultus est quod remanet omnia docta oblito. Is that sentece acceptable? – Pons Nov 2 '18 at 22:29
  • @Pons It is indeed. No other changes are needed if you change the first noun to something else. I added that remark to my answer. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 2 '18 at 22:39
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    Thank you for your time and knowlege. I’m previleged to have made your acquaintance. – Pons Nov 2 '18 at 22:52
  • @Pons I'm glad to have been able to help. Now that you have gained 15 reputation points, you can vote up any questions and answers you like. You can also accept an answer to your own question to indicate that you are satisfied and the case is closed, but there is no hurry to do so. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 2 '18 at 23:33
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I do not know Swedish, but I assume that bildning is one of the many West-Germanic loanwords in Swedish. The classical Latin equivalent of German Bildung is cultus, or cultus animi. Cultus is "education" but a bit more too. It is the state of character of an educated person.

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    There is a synonym to ”bildad” (educated in the notion of bildung) that is ”kultiverad” in Swedish. Cultus sounds therefore applicable to my Swedish ears. – Pons Nov 2 '18 at 21:39
  • I agree, something like "doctrina cultura" or cultivation, as the Wiktionary translation has it. – sventechie Nov 2 '18 at 23:19
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I would suggest formatio. Like English, it can refer to literal shaping (e.g. of clay) or also figurative shaping (e.g. of oneself). My understanding of the etymology of "Bildung" in German (from "Bild" = image) also makes this appropriate.

For instance, in Epistle 117, Seneca refers to formatio morum = "formatio morum."

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Here's my suggestion:

Cum institutio in oblivione est, supersunt mores.

That might be translated as:

When one's instruction is forgotten, character remains.

Considering your description, I thought mos would be a good fit. According to Lewis's An Elementary Latin Dictionary, the plural form of this word is used in the sense of:

...conduct, behavior, manners, morals, character

  • The participle oblita is semantically active because oblivisci is deponent. Thus institutio oblita est means "instruction has forgotten", not "instruction is forgotten". (But +1 for suggesting mos!) – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 2 '18 at 21:05
  • @JoonasIlmavirta. Thanks! But I'm at a loss then. Isn't there any passive form? – Expedito Bipes Nov 2 '18 at 21:15
  • No, there's no passive past participle for that verb. I struggled with the same lack of "[is] forgotten" myself, and ended up wit using oblitus as "the one who has forgotten". Perhaps you could do something with oblivio? I would be glad to see questions about working around some missing participles! Not having a perfect participle of discere is a pain, too. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 2 '18 at 21:21
  • The same problem persists with the absolute ablative. It's not the institutio that is oblita; it's the person who is oblitus. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 2 '18 at 21:28

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