Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rating State Mottoes, Part II

Continuing from yesterday ....

Part I: Alabama - Florida

Part III: Maryland - New Jersey

Part IV: New Mexico - South Carolina

Part V: South Dakota - Wyoming

Georgia: Wisdom, justice, and moderation

I feel like the laundry list of positive ideals is a pretty safe choice for a motto, but it's also pretty boring. I guess compared to a lot of southern states Georgia is relatively wise, relatively just, and relatively moderate. Or they were, until they elected Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R). B-.

Hawaii: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono/The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness

In English it's a mouthful, but maybe it rings better in Hawaiian. But the sentiment is nice -- it's like some of the random calls to the divine many states have, only without the deity. You'd think think that Hawaii would hang its hat on its fabulous weather or beaches. There's something heartwarming that they instead focus on justice. B+.

Idaho: Esto perpetua/Let it be perpetual

Is it just me, or does this come off as a little desperate? I'm actually amazed that as many people live in Idaho as they do, and I can understand that when Idaho first came about, it may have been a bit more of an open question about whether it could make it as a state or whether it would become East Washington County. But hey: you made it! Congratulations! Now develop some self-esteem. D+.

Illinois: State sovereignty, national union

Illinois tries to vacillate its way through the civil war, and failed dramatically. Nobody who knows anything about "the Land of Lincoln" has any doubts where it falls on the state sovereignty/national union divide. So not only is this motto hopelessly outdated, it also was a lie from day one. Boo. C-.

Indiana: The Crossroads of America

There are a lot of benefits to being positioned at a crossroads. You get a lot of commercial traffic, which boosts the economy. You'll be better known to the rest of the nation than might otherwise be warranted. You might even get some tourism. Still, I feel like it is a rather hollow boast to say "we're where people stop while trying to get somewhere else!" C.

Iowa: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain

TMI! Mottoes should be short and sweet. This is long and ungainly. I don't particularly associate Iowa with vigorous protection of human rights -- unless it's their right to the first caucus, which they will defend with the ferocity of a thousand minutemen. C.

Kansas: Ad astra per aspera/To the stars through adversity

Meaningless, but pretty. An improvement on Kansas, which is meaningless, and boring. But it's aspirational, so that's okay. With a lot of sweat and labor, maybe Kansas, too, can share in the American dream of "terrain". B+.

Kentucky: United we stand, divided we fall AND Deo gratiam habeamus/Let us be grateful to God

Kentucky, which had a pretty cliched motto to begin with, decided to supplement (but not replace) it with one that is even worse. Together, they manage to exemplify two wholly different ways of writing a really stupid motto. D.

Louisiana: Union, justice, and confidence

Let this much be said for Louisiana: It's never suffered from a lack of confidence. Unity? Sure. Justice? You bet. But confidence? Never. From breast-baring at Mardi Gras to cheerfully corrupt politicians, Louisianans are bold, brash, and secure. A-.

Maine: Dirigo/I lead

Not really, no. One word mottoes do benefit from being in Latin, but they still should bear some reasonable relation to the state they describe. Who exactly does Maine lead? Vermont? Nova Scotia? C+.


Matthew said...

The best part about Indiana's motto is that's not just where people stop while on their way elsewhere; it's where people raise kids who then try, actively and with the utmost dedication, to get away from there ASAP.

That state suffers from dreadful amounts of brain drain, which, come to think of it, explains a lot.

Emily said...

Here's a map with the mottoes on it, translated into English.

There seem to be a couple great ones coming up in the next post or two (Michigan, I'm looking at you...)

Anonymous said...

Kansas always make me think of The Honeymooners. To the moon!

Anonymous said...

I too am eagerly awaiting Michigan... most literal of mottos, we salute you1

Jack said...

Re: Maine... never heard "As goes Maine so goes the nation"?

David Schraub said...

I prefer "As Maine goes, so goes Vermont."