Wednesday, April 15, 2009

M Is For Melbourne

Q Up Here For Your Refresher Course

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


About six years ago, after Princes Bridge was refurbished here in Melbourne, someone observed a small but very significant problem.

After the re-painting, it was noticed that the Latin motto for the city of Melbourne, which is painted beneath each coat of arms on every ornate lamp post across the span of the bridge, now contained an induced error.

Despite the meticulous project, the letter Q in the motto was showing up as an O instead. The city's motto is ''Vires acquirit eundo'' or "we gather strength as we go". But the fresh gold paint rendered the second word as "acouirit" instead.

Understandably, there aren't too many Latin scholars around in these times, so the revelation caused a flurry of activity, followed by verification processes, which in turn were followed by some hasty fresh paintwork.

According to the City of Melbourne website, the motto was suggested by a Judge Willis, a Latin scholar who served as the inaugural judge of the new district in the colony.

So when I walked across the bridge recently, I was reminded of how the error crept in. As you can see from these shots, we have been minding our Ps and Qs.


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27 comments:

Mara said...

You can still read the Q though, although I have to admit if you're reading fast, you will not see the little thingymebob at the bottom of the O.
Nice choice and great story!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

What a beautiful site...and very witty humor as well!

RuneE said...

It is nice to know that someone still read what is actually written - or not as the case may be...

Daryl said...

Oh that's a good one ...

TheWritersPorch said...

Thats really good David! The Coat of Arms is gorgeous!!
Come by and see the shots I got this morning! You won't believe your eyes!!
Carol

Artist Unplugged said...

Very interesting, the Q story. Love the golden photos!

Nessa said...

Quad nesciunt eos non interficiet

Sylvia K said...

Great post as always, David, humor and history! I love it! The coat of arms is gorgeous!

Janie said...

I took 2 years of Latin once upon a time, but I'm not nearly erudite to have caught the mistake.
Funny mistake and marvelous tale.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Fabulous! Lovely story.

rosiescribble said...

How fasinating, and great photos!

Lakeland Jo said...

my son is coming to Melbourne tomorrow- please look after him all you good people who live thereX

anthonynorth said...

Enjoyed that. Witty.

Maggie May said...

Lovely photos and I am sure most people wouldn't notice the Ps & Qs mix up.

Cath said...

Lovely story. From a (normal) distance it does seem to be an "O". That would make such a difference in meaning I would imagine! Great post.

Babooshka said...

Nothing escapes you. Nothing escapes RuneE too who's comments I enjoy as much as posts. We have a bad apostrophe epidemic here. I may just have to try finding a sign now.

Louise said...

I always wonder at times like this why major research is not done BEFORE the project.

Mojo said...

Oops. Doncha just hate it when that happens?

At least they were consistent!

Tumblewords: said...

Interesting and entertaining, as well!

Sassy Britches said...

I came to say thanks for stopping by my Tuesday's Tribute and sharing that both of our mother instilled a love of learning...and here you are discussing Latin! I took Latin all through high school and received college credit for it! I adore the language, and it has helped me so much in other areas of my life. How fortuitous that we happened upon each other like that!

Vicky said...

beautiful coat of arms with an interesting Q story. I have visited Melbourne and I like it!

Paula Scott said...

Funny and informative! Nice tidbit! Thanks!

The Things We Carried said...

Or mending them, at least!

Seamus said...

The devil's in the details, huh?

Anne-Berit said...

Interresting post as usual.I`m glad they got it corrected at last.
I can see the q.
Have a nice day!

naturglede said...

Love it! Have a fun abc:)

Jay said...

Haha - that's funny! I'm glad they went around and put it right!

It's a very beautiful coat of arms, by the way.