Translating the Latin Motto of Bob Jones University into English
As is often the case, many institutions adopt a Latin phrase as its motto. However, unlike many of these institutions, Bob Jones University has adopted a phrase made up of two Latin verbs. Recall that the phrase discussed above was made up of two nouns, a common construction of Latin mottoes.
Petimus Credimus, the Latin motto of Bob Jones University, is accurately translated by this institution to mean “We Seek, We Trust." Petimus is the first-person plural active indicative present tense form of the word “peto." As a third-conjugation verb, its present tense is formed by taking the stem of the verb “pet–," adding an –i–, and then adding the person ending. Recall, however, that the third-person plural in the third conjugation has the irregular form “petunt."
Credimus is the first-person plural active indicative present tense form of the word “credo." As a third-conjugation verb, it is formed similarly to “Peto" as discussed above. However accurate the university’s official translation of the phrase may be, recall that present tense verbs may be translated in any of three ways from Latin to English.
The simple present simply states the verb’s action. This is the translation offered by Bob Jones University:
We Seek, We Trust
A present progressive translation often draws out the verb “to be" in the translation. For example:
We Are Seeking, We Are Trusting
Finally, a present emphatic translation uses a form of the word “do" to emphasize something that is being done. For example:
We Do Seek, We Do Trust
The present emphatic is necessary when changing a sentence from declarative to interrogative. For example:
Do We Seek, Do We Trust?
Bob Jones University’s choice of the simple present for translation of its Latin motto not only conveys the motto’s sentiment succinctly, it offers the most accurate translation.