Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Steinbeck's Latin Motto

Dennis Mangan reminds us of John Steinbeck's Latin motto: 'Ad astra per alia porci' ('To the stars on the wings of a pig').

Most other sources on the Internet quote the motto the same way. I'm puzzled, though. The Latin word 'ala' (feminine singular) means 'wing' (although 'penna' is the more common Latin word for 'wing', I think). But to be the plural object of the preposition 'per', the correct form would be 'alas', not 'alia', i.e. 'Ad astra per alas porci'.

Steinbeck's motto is of course a take-off on the Latin motto 'Ad astra per aspera' ('To the stars through difficulties', the state motto of Kansas), with perhaps a glance at the English expression 'When pigs fly'.

'Ad astra per alas porci' is the motto of a Swedish fraternity, the Ordo Svejkalis.

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