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"
- Afrikaans (South African)
- Thanks to Wim Fourie.
- Thanks to Irvi.
- 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
- 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:
- 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
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
- 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
- Tsien's translation are (the part between backets can in principle
be omitted from the translation):
- According to Zhou Hejun these two are not correct. Zhou Hejun's
updated translations are now in the main list.
- Thanks to Josip Rodin.
For some notes on the languages of former-Yugosalvia, see
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:
it was also at two other website, which have gone since.
- Thanks to Jacob Seligmann.
has the same translation, save for the "så" after the comma.
- 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
- 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.
- Thanks to Sakari Kauppinen and Kauko Isotalus.
And to Derek Roff for correcting a printing error.
- Thanks to Kauko Isotalus.
The second part of the citation, after the comma, is said to be
a citation from Marx and mentioned on
in the third document "Filosoofia konspekt (Ain Jõesalu)".
See also the remark at Russian below.
- Thanks to Benerosa Juliano.
- Thanks to Antti Värri; see his page
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
Olen ihminen enkä katso mitään inhimillistä itselleni
Olen ihminen, enkä pidä mitään inhimillistä
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
where "koska" means "because", but that word is not necessary in
the translation and it is not in the Latin original either.
- 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
(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
has a slightly different version:
"Je suis un homme; je pense que rien d'humain ne m'est
- My translation using two on-line dictionaries:
Dutch - Frisian
Frisian; I am not certain whether all words are correct.
[With thanks to Kauko Isotalus.]
- Thanks to Lado Samushia.
Between bracktes the Latin transcription of the Georgian translation
- My translation from the Dutch; thanks to
Christoph R. and Luci Schwarz for corrections.
- Thanks to Anonymous Davidson III.
- 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:
(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
(Ime ena anthropino on, etsi tipota to
anthropino then ine periergo gia mena)
where the word "periergo" means "weird" rather than "strange".
- 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.
- Thanks to Gaal Yahas.
Note Hebrew is read from right to left; the transliteration to
Latin characters is of course from left to right.
- Thanks to A.J., a good man from India (via Benerosa Juliano).
- 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
but the current is "more correct and more usual to say" in modern
- 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,
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.
- Thanks to Vincenzo Costantini.
Almost identical translation were at:
[page has gone] and
[page has gone]
- Thanks to Scott Henneman.
Earlier Marian Sheeran send me another translation:
which literally means
"I (topic) human am because, anything strange is think-don't"
"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
"I (topic) human am. Human to concerning things if whatever, self to
unrelated don't think."
"I am human. I don't think anything concerning humans foreign to me."
- Thanks to Yoon-Kyoung Hwang.
- Thanks to Armands Radzuska and Kauko Isotalus.
- Thanks to Kauko Isotalus, from
(which requires Windows fonts; it goes entirely wrong in my Netscape)
- Thanks to Nikola Zdravevski.
- Thanks to Baskal Magro-Sammut.
- 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
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
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
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.
[now gone] and
- Papiamentu (= native language of Curaçao)
- Thanks to Marcus DeMaaijer.
- Thanks to Mohammad Eskandari.
- 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:
so I will just use the Latin 'l', with apologies to the Polish people.
At web page that is now gone
the translation has the first two words interchanged and two commas:
Jestem cz³owiekiem i nic, co ludzkie, nie jest mi obce
- Thanks to Kauko Isotalus, from
Originally had the translation taken from
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
Hence, there is still confusion as to the correct translation in
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.
- Thanks to Liliana Corlateanu.
A slightly different version can be found at
- 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.
of Finnish and related languages
- Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig na h-Alba)
- Thanks to Tom Thomson
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
- Thanks to Kauko Isotalus and Miky
- Thanks to Ann Zakelj
- Found at
[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
"Soy hombre y creo que nada humano me es ajeno"
"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.
- 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.
- Thanks to Kauko Isotalus.
- 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
- Thanks to Mrs. Prof R.P. Zorivchak from
(or: Lvov) University and to Slava Meleshko for
asking her for the translation.
Mrs. Zorivchak also supplied an alternative from of
Homo sum; nihil humanum a me alienum est.
- 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
but that comes up with very, very weird translations. For example:
No, this does not work well ...
- translating the German I give in the list into English results in:
"I am humans, thus nothing human is to me other".
- the English I give in the list would be in German:
"Ich bin ein menschliches Wesen, also ist nichts, der menschlich ist,
merkwürdig zu mir"
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:
I am a man: nothing human is alien to me
I am human and nothing human is alien to me
I am a human being, so nothing human is strange to me
Everything that concerns mankind concerns me
I am man; I consider nothing human foreign to me
source, who claims the
citation is from Alfred David Burnett ...
I am a man and everything human I regard as my business
As man, as human being, I can not stay indifferent in front of what
I am a man; I count nothing that is human indifferent to me.
I am a man. I count nothing human foreign to me
Man am I and nothing human is foreign to me
I am a man: I hold that nothing human is alien to me
and several other versions ...
<=== Page about the Terentius citation
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created: 4 November 1998
last modified: 30 July 2011