Source of the Terentius translations

 
On the page with the Latin citation from Terentius

Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto

translations in other languages of the citation are given. The source of each translation is listed below, in the same order as the translations are given. Most (all?) of these translations are similar to the English version I give:

I am a human being, so nothing human is strange to me

 

Regarding the word "puto"

The Latin citation contains the word "puto" (I consider), which does not appear in most of the translations. The reason for this is probably that is has no real significance when the citation is used as-is. The citation comes from Terentius' play Heautontimoroumenos (The Self-Tormentor) -- see the extract -- where it refers to the main character (Chremes) being told to mind his own business, upon which Chremes answers the now famous "Homo sum ...", where it can be translated as "I am a human being and I consider nothing human strange to me", with "strange" in the meaning of "not my business" or "irrelevant". In this scene, the "I consider" ("puto") makes sense, but when the citation is used outside its original context, the word "puto" has no meaning anymore. A similar thing happened to other Latin quotations: the use of the phrase over the centuries added new meanings, away from the original context. So, when using Terentius' citation as-is, in a general sense, the word "puto" does not need a translation; when used within Terentius' play, it must be included.
[Thanks to Antti Värri, Kauko Isotalus and Ilya Tsindlekht for help.]
 

Regarding the word "nil" or "nihil"

The citation as I give it has the spelling found in the book mentioned and found at several other places. In some other cases 'nil' is replaced by 'nihil' ("nil" being a shorter version of "nihil"). Which of the two is the very original one used by Terentius is unclear to me, so I will use here the formulation I found first and most often.
 

And more versions ...

Another version of the citation I received is: "Homo sum. Humani nihil a mihi alienum puto"

 


Sources

 
Afrikaans (South African)
Thanks to Wim Fourie.
 
Albanian
Thanks to Irvi.
 
Arabic
Thanks to Ghada ElSerafy.
 
Brazilian - Portuguese
Thanks to Adriano.
Evidently there is some difference between the Portuguese from Brazil and that from Portugal; see for some notes Portuguese below.
 
Bulgarian
Thanks to Vesela Todorova.
 
Catalonian (or: "Català")
Thanks to Francesc Llop Puig.
 
Chinese (simplified and traditional)
Thanks to Zhou Hejun.
Some words about the "history" of the translation given at the main page are in place, as there have been different versions on the main page.

At first had here translations given to me by Ying Su:

      simplified
 
      traditional
[Chinese, simplified]
[Chinese, traditional]
And Ying Su give the Hanyu Pinying transcription and its meaning:
Wo sh yi ge renlei, suoyi wo bu juede renwei hen qiguai.
"I am a human being, that is why I do not think human doings are strange"
 
Paul Frank wrote me at some point with regard to Ying Su's translations:
The Chinese translation [...] on your webpage is completely wrong. Even the pinyin transliteration is wrong. For starters it says "I am humanity" rather than "I'm a man" or "I'm a human being." For another, the "Chinese" translator went from the English rather than the Latin and translated "strange" as "odd" or "peculiar" rather than "alien" or, as you say in Dutch, "vreemd."
I don't translate into Chinese but after twenty years of studying the language, including five in China, I can tell that this translation is nonsensical.
 
Then Tsien provided me with two other translations, explaining:
The first part of the Chinese translation is, shall I say, an incorrect rendition. What it literally says is "I am a humanity". Sounds like the whole human race has just one member, i.e., me. On the second part, the translator obviously did not give adequate thought to the original Latin quote. When the English word "strange" is employed here, it really talks about something appearing alienating than something which looks merely odd. Likewise I think the French word "étranger", Hebrew "hazar", Swedish "främmande" are all well chosen. Chinese "qiguai" is all right, but I tend to prefer another word to emphasize the aspect of "foreignness".
 
Tsien's translation are (the part between backets can in principle be omitted from the translation):
      simplified [Chinese, simplified]
      traditional [Chinese, traditional]
According to Zhou Hejun these two are not correct. Zhou Hejun's updated translations are now in the main list.
 
Croatian
Thanks to Josip Rodin.
For some notes on the languages of former-Yugosalvia, see Serbian below.
 
Czech
http://inspirace.balustrada.cz/archiv/kohak_u.html
With thanks to Kauko Isotalus for help.
Thanks also to Martina
Slightly different version, with or without the comma and the 'a', can be found at: http://magazlin.zln.cz/9/kniha9.htm; it was also at two other website, which have gone since.
 
Danish
Thanks to Jacob Seligmann.
The page http://www.gvdnet.dk/~juul/latin.html has the same translation, save for the "så" after the comma.
 
Dutch
From Dankzij de Ieren [Balans, Amsterdam, 1998], the Dutch translation of How the Irish saved civilization [Doubleday, USA, 1995] by Thomas Cahill, where I got the Latin citation from in the first place.
My Dutch dictionary Van Dale [11de herziene druk, 1998] gives as translation:
"Ik ben een mens en acht niets menselijks mij vreemd"
The book Prisma Latijnse citaten en gezegden by G.J.M. Bartelink [Het Spectrum, 1989/99] gives:
"Ik ben een mens, niets menselijks acht ik mij vreemd"
Both translations read rather archaic and think they are not so good.
 
English
This is how I first translated it from the Dutch. Later I saw the English version of Cahill's book [see at Dutch above] as published by Sceptre, and it gives the same English version.
Since the book from Cahill is the start of this collection, I keep the given version as translation.
Different translations are possible and some of these may even be somewhat better -- to a large degree that is rather personal, I think.
I am a human being, so nothing human is foreign to me
I am a human being, so nothing human is alien to me   
i.e. with "foreign" or "alien" rather than "strange". Or even something like this, sent to my by Gérard Ducasse:
I am a man, nothing human leaves me indifferent
See below for some other English versions.
 
Esperanto
Thanks to Sakari Kauppinen and Kauko Isotalus.
And to Derek Roff for correcting a printing error.
 
Estonian
Thanks to Kauko Isotalus.
The second part of the citation, after the comma, is said to be a citation from Marx and mentioned on http://www.lap.ttu.ee/eix/failid/ in the third document "Filosoofia konspekt (Ain Jõesalu)". See also the remark at Russian below.
 
Filipino
Thanks to Benerosa Juliano.
 
Finnish
Thanks to Antti Värri; see his page http://alipasha.tripod.com/latin2.htm
In this version and "ei mikään" means "nothing" and "-kä" is a conjecture ("and"), resulting in "I am a human being, and nothing human is strange to me", Kauko Isotalus explains. Without the conjecture the "ei" ("not") comes later:
Olen ihminen; mikään inhimillinen ei ole minulle vierasta
which would translate as "I am a human being; nothing human is strange to me", Kauko writes. There are also Finnish translation around that do include "puto" ("I consider"; see above), for example:
Olen ihminen, mitään inhimillistä en pidä itselleni vieraana
Olen ihminen enkä katso mitään inhimillistä itselleni vieraaksi
Olen ihminen, enkä pidä mitään inhimillistä itselleni vieraana
which just goes to show how difficult it is to make a translation of a single sentence, how much it can depend on the context.
Paula Lehtonen sent me earlier a different translation:
Koska olen ihminen, mikään inhimillinen ei ole minulle vierasta
where "koska" means "because", but that word is not necessary in the translation and it is not in the Latin original either.
 
French
Thanks to Tom Crisp and Gérard Ducasse.
Earlier had this translation:
Je suis homme: et rien de ce qui est humain ne m'est étranger
and that came from http://www.perso.hol.fr/~psalvi/pages_roses.html#80, (which seems to have gone from the Web) with a spelling correction by Nicolas Renz. But on second thought it does not seem to be fully correct.
The page http://bcs.fltr.ucl.ac.be/heritage.html has a slightly different version:
"Je suis un homme; je pense que rien d'humain ne m'est étranger"
 
Frisian
My translation using two on-line dictionaries: Dutch - Frisian and English - Frisian; I am not certain whether all words are correct. [With thanks to Kauko Isotalus.]
 
Georgian
Thanks to Lado Samushia.
Between bracktes the Latin transcription of the Georgian translation is given.
 
German
My translation from the Dutch; thanks to Christoph R. and Luci Schwarz for corrections.
 
Gothic
Thanks to Anonymous Davidson III.
 
Greek
Thanks to Rigas Parathyras.
This translation is "simpler and comes out more naturally in modern Greek," Rigas writes, "and is not a word-by-word translation from the English."

The earlier translation, thanks to Haralambos Marmanis and Slava Meleshko, had at the end two old-fashioned Greek words:

[Greek]
(Ime ena anthropino on, etsi tipota to anthropino then eivai xeno se emena)

Before that, Kostas Giannakidis sent me a slightly different translation in Latin characters, which Rigas converted into Greek characters:

[Greek]
(Ime ena anthropino on, etsi tipota to anthropino then ine periergo gia mena)
where the word "periergo" means "weird" rather than "strange".
 
Gronings
Thanks to Léon Boer.
Gronings can be considered a dialect of Dutch. In fact Gronings is part of the Low Saxon language and that is officially acknowledged as a language in the EU.
 
Hebrew
Thanks to Gaal Yahas.
Note Hebrew is read from right to left; the transliteration to Latin characters is of course from left to right.
 
Hindi
Thanks to A.J., a good man from India (via Benerosa Juliano).
 
Hungarian
http://ond.vein.hu/~csallom/idez.html
 
Icelandic
Thanks to Tryggvi T. Hjörvar and Kauko Isotalus, with corrections by Tryggvi Gíslason
first I had:
Ég er manneskja og því er ekkert mennskt mér framandi
but the current is "more correct and more usual to say" in modern Icelandic.
 
Indonesian (= Bahasa Indonesia)
Thanks to Laura Harsoyo.
Hananto Prihanto sent me earlier this translation:
Aku manusia, maka segala hal yang tak manusiawi adalah hal asing bagiku
which translates as "I am human being, soeverything inhumane is strange to me", accodring to Laura Harsoyo, whereas her version translates as "... everything humane is not strange to me" -- that is better, I think.
Hananto wrote that a slightly different translation is also possible:
Aku manusia, maka segala hal yang manusiawi bukanlah hal asing bagiku
which translates into English as something like "I am human being, so everything about human is not strange to me", wrote Hananto.
 
Irish (= Gaelic)
Thanks to John Kavanagh.
 
Italian
Thanks to Vincenzo Costantini.
Almost identical translation were at: http://cmc.milano.it/giornal.htm [page has gone] and http://www.saveriani.bs.it/CEM/Pubblicazioni/via.htm [page has gone]
 
Japanese
Thanks to Scott Henneman.
Earlier Marian Sheeran send me another translation:
[Japanese]
which literally means "I (topic) human am because, anything strange is think-don't" or:
"I am a human being, so I don't think anything is strange"
But that is not wat Terentius says, Scott writes: the quote like this could mean that a human does not think litterly anything is strange, whether human, animal, astronomical, ...   And, Scott addes, it does not have the feel in Japanese that it is a famous quotation. Scott's translation means "I (topic) human am. Human to concerning things if whatever, self to unrelated don't think." or:
"I am human. I don't think anything concerning humans foreign to me."
 
Korean
Thanks to Yoon-Kyoung Hwang.
 
Latvian
Thanks to Armands Radzuska and Kauko Isotalus.
 
Lithuanian
Thanks to Kauko Isotalus, from http://njuspeipis.ktu.lt/mintys/lotynai/h.htm (which requires Windows fonts; it goes entirely wrong in my Netscape)
 
Macedonian
Thanks to Nikola Zdravevski.
 
Maltese
Thanks to Baskal Magro-Sammut.
 
Nepali
Thanks to Ramesh Shrestha for making the translation
and to John Whelpton for providing it to me.
The citation is written in the Devanagari script using the website http://www.unicodenepali.com/convert/, using "basic conversion", using the following transcription:
maanchhe nai hu*; tyasaile maanchhekai viShayamaa malaai
kehi pani chija biraano laagdaina.
but the transcription given on the main page shows the actual pronunciation.
The converter website works not well with Firefox, Opera or Konqueror, but seems to work well with Internet Explorer ...  except that the ";" used after the third word did not show up in the translation, so that was added by hand with the program "paint".
Conversion to a straight black/white image has made that the lines of the characters are not entirely straight-edged, but a bit rough around the edges -- do not know how to get that right. Still, it is readable the way it is now.
 
Norwegian
http://www.stud.unit.no/~frede/html/latinliste.html [now gone] and http://home.eunet.no/~baardaun/latinliste.html
 
Papiamentu (= native language of Curaçao)
Thanks to Marcus DeMaaijer.
 
Persian
Thanks to Mohammad Eskandari.
 
Polish
Thanks to Pawel Ryszawa.
The 'l' in the first word of the translation as well as in 'Pawel' is actually a crossed-out 'l' (or: suppressed 'l') in Polish, indicated in ISO-Centraleuropean codding with an ASCII #179 character. There is unfortunately no official HTML coding for this character (ASCII #179 gives a superscript-3: "Cz³owiekiem ...").
(La)TeX can, as with Russian and some other translations, be used to generate the character, but the resulting 'l' does not look very clear:
[Polish]
so I will just use the Latin 'l', with apologies to the Polish people.
At web page that is now gone and at http://hans-klos.w.interia.pl/lacina.htm the translation has the first two words interchanged and two commas:
Jestem cz³owiekiem i nic, co ludzkie, nie jest mi obce
 
Portuguese
Thanks to Kauko Isotalus, from http://www.an.com.br/1999/set/26/0ane.htm
Originally had the translation taken from http://www.abordo.com.br/ocaixote/latim02.htm, but that site has now gone. It had a slightly different translation:
Sou homem e nada reputo alheio a mim do que é humano
Two other Brazilian web sites have a version that are again a bit different; see http://cpu.iron.com.br/~lcancelo/saber2.htm and http://www.mat.unb.br/~llazarte/
Hence, there is still confusion as to the correct translation in Portuguese.

Note that in Brazil, where these web sites are based from, the poeple speak Portuguese, though there may be some differences with the Portuguese spoken in Portugal.

Alexandre wrote that "Portuguese is an extremely rich language in which one frequently has many different ways to say the same thing". His translation into Portuguese goes like this:

Sou homem: nada do que é humano reputo alheio a mim
which, Alexandre writes, "although a little bit erudite, is perfectly understandable for both Brazilians and Portuguese speakers".
 
Romani (or: Romany, Roma, Gipsy, ...)
Thanks to Kauko Isotalus, Kimmo Granqvist, Tuula Åkerlund.
There are of course several (slightly) different dialects of the Romani (Gipsy) language; see for example this list on a partly Dutch site.
 
Romanian
Thanks to Liliana Corlateanu.
A slightly different version can be found at http://www.kappa.ro/news/dimineata/dm-188.html
 
Russian
Thanks to Paula Lehtonen and her Russian colleague.
This is the official Russian translation.
It was also given at a website in Russian, which has gone.

Note: The citation was Marx' motto for life, but it was not used in connection with Marxism or the Soviet Union -- thanks to Slava Meleshko of this info. Luis F. Areán adds that "fortunately Mr. Lenin and Mr. Stalin found no reason to use it, so they didn't corrupt it, as so many other things they touched."

 
Saami (=Lappish)
Thanks to Kauko Isotalus and Arja Alaraudanjoki.
Note first of all that the people from the areas of Lapland, north Scandinavia, call themselfs Sámi, not Laps, and that it is also spelled like Sámi, Same or Samic.
Kauko Isotalus writes that there are about ten different Sámi languages, each with several dialects, and only six have a written version. The Sámi languages are divided in three main groups: Eastern, Northern and Western Sámi. The translation given is in the main Northern Sámi (Mountain Sámi), spoken by about 70% of the Sámi people.
Some links:
  The Saami people  |  Origin of Finnish and related languages  |  Saami languages
 
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig na h-Alba)
Thanks to Tom Thomson
 
Serbian
http://www.advokatska-komora.co.yu/citati/H.htm
First I called this "Yugoslavian", but there has never really been a language with that name. And "Serbo-Croatian" is a linguistic term that covers three official languages, so that is not a good description either. Therefore: this is the Serbian version; the Croatian version is slightly different, as you can see on the list.
The Balkan region is linguistically rather complex, with several languages spoken in several countries, and people being sensitive about these matters, of course.
Thanks to Suzie One, Kauko Isotalus, Irfan Skiljan, Josip Rodin for help and info.
 
Slovak
Thanks to Kauko Isotalus and Miky
 
Slovenian
Thanks to Ann Zakelj
 
Spanish
Found at http://www.ctv.es/USERS/seip/seip22.htm and at http://www.etsit.upm.es/~cliterario/final.html [the latter website seems to have gone].
Also thanks to Alberto Lozano.
José María Gutiérrez wrote that though this translation is correct, it is not the best possible. Saying:
Soy un hombre, nada humano me es extraño
is better. Alberto Lozano does not agree and writes that the first translation "is absolutely correct and more poetic and cultured so it fits better in the context than 'Soy un hombre ...'".
Slightly different versions where at two pages that have gone after I found them (http://www.fespinal.com/espinal/es65.htm and http://www.tibet.iteso.mx/cultural/axiomas.htm):
"Soy hombre y creo que nada humano me es ajeno"
and:
"Soy hombre, nada de lo que es humano me es extraño"
The latter translation was at a Mexican site, so I thought it might be a Mexican translation, but Luis F. Areán wrote me: "Mexican is no different from Spanish (other than some localisms similar to the ones found in different English-speaking countries). Only, as in any other language, there are many ways to say the same thing." Alberto Lozano adds that the construction of sentences can be slightly different, sometimes even very different.
And there seem to be even more translations around that slightly differ.
 
Swahili
Thanks to Megan Ahern.
Megan adds that the second part means  "There is nothing human that is foreign to me", which is close enough to the English version.
Translating  "Nothing human can be foreign to me"  would be 
"Kitu cha mtu hakiwezi kuwa kigeni mwangu"  or  "Vitu vya mtu haviwezi kuwa vigeni mwangu".
By the way:  "KiSwahili"  is the Swahili name for Swahili.
 
Swedish
Thanks to Kauko Isotalus.
See also: http://hem.passagen.se/filippaw/html/latinska_citat.html or http://hem.passagen.se/pluver/citat.html or http://home.swipnet.se/cissa/sid29.html or http://home.swipnet.se/~w-21160/Latinsayings.htm etc.
 
Turkish
Thanks to R. Engur Pisirici.
Victoria Fernandez sent me earlier a translation which misses accents on some letters:
Ben bir insanim ve insana özgü hiçbir sey bana yabanci degildir
 
Ukrainian
Thanks to Mrs. Prof R.P. Zorivchak from L'viv (or: Lvov) University and to Slava Meleshko for asking her for the translation.
Mrs. Zorivchak also supplied an alternative from of Terentius' citation:
Homo sum; nihil humanum a me alienum est.
 
Vietnamese
Thanks to Thu K. Nguyen
Received the translation as MS-Word file, had that printed (thanks to Michael Sigmond) and scanned it. The result is readable, though not really very good.


I did try to use the AltaVista translator but that comes up with very, very weird translations. For example:

No, this does not work well ...


 

Other versions of the translation

Searching the Web for some translations of the citation I found several slightly different translations in English -- apparently it is difficult to get an entirely correct translation. In a similar way there are different versions for the other languages.
Here are some of the English alternatives:


<=== Page about the Terentius citation

 
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created: 4 November 1998
last modified: 5 December 2013