Friday, February 27, 2009

Rating State Mottos, Part IV

Part I: Alabama - Florida

Part II: Georgia - Maine

Part III: Maryland - New Jersey

Part V: South Dakota - Wyoming

New Mexico: Crescit eundo/It grows as it goes

Everyone who has talked to me about this project has informed me that New Mexico's motto is obviously a metaphor to the penis. This is unfortunate. Once again, I reiterate that just as states should be secure in their statehood (Idaho), states should also be secure in their manhood. New Mexico, admittedly, often is not considered to be part of the United States by less knowledgeable citizens, but that is no excuse for reckless overcompensation. C.

New York: Excelsior/Ever upward!

Whereas New Mexico has an obviously phallic bent, New York here is clearly referencing its huge ... buildings. Right. But it is still better than New Mexico, for two reasons: first, "Excelsior" sounds really cool, and second, when it comes from New York it sounds brash and boastful, not desperate. B+.

North Carolina: Esse quam videri/To be rather than to seem

I couldn't parse this at all until I placed a comma after "To be". Now it sort of makes sense, but it seems oddly existential for North Carolina. Some namby-pamby, liberal intellectual state like Maryland could get away with this (in fact, this would be fabulously aspirational for Delaware), but it rings odd here. B-.

North Dakota: Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable

Liberty and union? Great! Now and forever? Sure, why not. One and inseparable? Okay, dial it back. Love the enthusiasm, but it is overboard for a motto. C.

Ohio: With God, all things are possible

We had a nice break from the church/state violations, but Ohio comes roaring back into the fray with this beauty. I suppose having an omnipotent being on your side does drastically increase one's potential in any activity, but a good motto shouldn't be a tautology. D+.

Oklahoma: Labor omnia vincit/Labor conquers all things

Oklahoma is a right to work state, so I can only assume this motto is sarcastic. I do not approve. D+.

Oregon: Alis volat propriis/She flies with her own wings

This would make a nice slogan for an airline, but I'm not sure how it plays as a state motto. I guess it does signal hardiness and independence, which are decent enough values. And aesthetically, it's not bad. It just feels so ... corporate. B.

Pennsylvania: Virtue, Liberty, and Independence

Unlike, say, New Jersey, I feel like Pennsylvania could step out a little bit and adopt a motto that was more specific to its characteristics as a state. I'm sure many Pennsylvanians are full of virtue, but guess what? So are folks from every other state! But mottoes like this are the slogan equivalent of the tricolor flag: they wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't that everyone else was doing them too. Pennsylvania, as one of the 13 colonies, gets at least a little pass here though. B-.

Puerto Rico: Joannes Est Nomem Ejus/John is his name

Umm... what? Who is John? I would assume "Rico" would be his name, given that this is "Puerto Rico", but what do I know? I'm just a landlubbing Marylander. With a vote in Congress. C-.

Rhode Island: Hope

Yes we can! Yes we can! Hope happened to Rhode Island, and it can happen to the rest of the nation too! A-.

South Carolina: Dum spiro spero/While I breathe, I hope AND
Animis opibusque parati/Ready in soul and resource

South Carolina is another two motto state, and neither of them are that good, for much the same reason: Both take a good idea and overdraw it. "While I breathe, I hope" pales in comparison to Rhode Island's simplicity. "Ready in soul" might be nice (if a bit Aretha Franklin-esque), but adding "and resource" really makes mundane what would otherwise be a quite lofty sentiment. C+.


Anonymous said...

I learned something today. Apparently the full original name of Puerto Rico is San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico. Which on the one hand, helps make sense of the motto. But on the other hand, it makes the motto a lot crappier. It's like Alabama. It's name is Alabama. I think you need to downgrade it.

Anonymous said...

Also, I had always thought Puerto Rico's motto was Isla de Encanto - Isle of Enchantment. I think they should stick with that.

A.R. said...

You stopped at So. Dak!

Oh, the suspense is killing me!!