Re: Naming a detective division

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 20 May 1996 10:24:09 -0500

At 7:49 PM -0500 5/17/96, wrote:
> I have a unique request. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department,
> detective division has approached me to ask if I could come up with a phrase
> in Greek that they could title a unit's project.
> This project is titled DIRC: Detective Information Resource Center. Their
> job is to do investigations for many other crime units. They search for
> locations, criminal records, crime patterns, etc. for other units. They have
> access to some of the most sophisticated computer resource systems that exist
> to do their research. Their main goal is to assist other detective units put
> bad guys in jail by doing research via computer databases.
> Given this initial description, I wanted to ask if any of you could come up
> with a Greek phrase that would be catchy to put with the DIRC name. They are
> looking for something catchy with a meaning pointing to their work, similar
> to the E. PLURIBUS UNUM on the U.S. coin. They want others who see it to
> ask them what it means and then they would tell them it means something.
> Could you help me produce a little two to four word phrase in Greek?
> I asked them if they could produce a phrase and then give it to me to
> translate into Greek, but they wanted me to try to come up with something
> first.

While admittedly it is fun to play around with versions of such things,
does anyone ever find such requests annoying, as I do, on grounds that
somebody wants to make a nice impression and show off a bit of erudition
that they don't have. Where mottoes are a matter of tradition deriving from
an era when people COULD read Greek and Latin, but I've gotten to the point
that I have started charging fees for this sort of sham cleverness.
There've been some weird things: I had once to invent a Latin title for an
"International Society for Contact Lens Research;" on another occasion an
obstetrician's secretary asked for a Latin motto to be put on a birthday
cake, translating, "No fetus can defeat us."

But what's the point in assisting other people to make a show of learning
that they don't have?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR