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Readers Respond

Leave the state motto as it is

The proposal by the state Senate to retranslate the motto on the Maryland State Seal is unnecessary ("Maryland Senate considers new translation of motto on state seal," March 22).

I was always taught that "he" and other masculine references cover both sexes when used generically. The state motto "Fatti maschii, parole femine," was officially translated by former state archivist Edward C. Papenfuse years ago as "strong deeds, gentle words."

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In Lord Calvert's day in 1622 the translation read "Deeds are men, words are women," and in the Maryland Manual of 1905 it's translated as "a woman for words and a man for deeds."

While English words are neutral, most European nouns have a masculine or feminine gender based on their sound. This does not mean that "the word" is a man nor that "the war" is for women.

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The official motto of the Calvert family appears on the reverse side of Maryland's State Seal. The Maryland Government Manual explains that the Latin legend around the border of the State Seal is from Psalm 5 of the Latin Vulgate Bible, and it translates as "with favor wilt thou compass us as with a shield."

The date, 1632, refers to the year Charles I, King of England, granted the Maryland charter to Cecillius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. As described on the state's website, "the reverse side of the Great Seal of Maryland consists of an escutcheon, or shield, bearing the Calvert and Crossland arms quartered. Above is an earl's coronet and a full-faced helmet. The escutcheon is supported on one side by a farmer and on the other by a fisherman. It symbolizes Lord Baltimore's two estates, Maryland and Avalon in Newfoundland."

Personally, I believe the Maryland State Motto and State Seal are historic and do not need to be changed.

Susan P. Morrison, Gibson Island


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