by Taylor Moffitt
The Clan Motto is often poorly translated “I hope for better things”, however a more literal and contextually appropriate translation would be “I aspire to greater things.”
The common translation loses most of the powerful weight of the words, which are present when read in the original language. Spero is a 1st person singular active verb. This is the same Latin root as the English words spire, aspire, aspirations, and even respiration. The word Meliora is a dative noun, and is where we get the English word amelioration, which means an improvement. These words are a variety of Latin, but not classical Latin, and are best described as the “Norman” language, which was spoken by the Norman nobles who conquered England in 1066.
Any words must be translated in context, and here our genre of context is “battle cry,” or “motto.” The wimpy, “Gee, I sure hope it doesn’t get any worse, I hope it gets better” dynamic falls completely short of the motivation the words in their original language were intended to have. The original Norman-Latin words were spoken by a family who were noble conquerors in a foreign land, growing, prospering, and triumphant. The words carried the connotation of lofty spires, and an urgency as important as breathing, to reach higher and higher.