Neither this translation of the motto nor the one in the APF (Feet of Clay, frontispiece) seems right. Acutus means "sharp, acute, wise, glaring...", much like "acute" in English. Verberat is "beat, strike, lash". Leo and Mike seem to be away off with "sharp's the word", but why acutus for "quickly" rather than citus or festinato? "Whip it quick" is more or less official (from The New Discworld Companion), but I can only guess it's a futile attempt to translate English slang into Latin slang. "Whip it sharp" would then seem more likely (or even "beat it wisely".} --Old Dickens 16:35, 27 October 2008 (UTC)
Since I don't think your arrempt is futile, I'd suggest those translations for each word:
- 1) ACVTVS: adj., "sharp, pirecing, stabbing". The ending being -US, it refers only to the subject.
- 2) ID: "it". In Latin it can be both subject and object of the sentence. But since ACVTVS is the subject's adjective, and the -US ending refers only to a "he-subject", we understand ID ("it") cannot be the subject. The only possible ending for an adjective referred to an ID ("it") is -UM, while -US refers to a generic "he". Therefore we state "ID" is the object of the action and "he, the ACVTVS man" is the subject - dropped as it often happens in Latin.
- 3) VERBERAT: present tense, third person: "hits, strikes, beats (with stick), whips, straps (with a belt), flogs". It is not an imperative (verbera, verberate), so it refers to the "he" dropped subject.
How is it possible to translate it? You suggest "beat it wisely", that is fine and sounds good to me. I can complete your translation with the following: "The wise/clever/bright/sharp beats it". Now, in Latin it simply means: "The wise man hits it", while in English "beat it" means "to go away", "to flee", "to hook it"... It makes sense for a thief! The wise is the first that leaves! The wise man beats it! Pwill 05:14, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Update: In Australia, "to flog something" means "to steal something", as stated in ! So we can simply translate: "The wise steals it" (instead of buying it, of course). No dubt we are on the right path: if I think again at VERBERO as a Latin verb, I see it means both "to flog" and "to hit" because it recalls the idea of a flexible whip/stick that hits something: it is the same movement of the thief's hand, that swings to the pocket and comes back with the wallet. As in English, re-verberate means "that whose sight vibrates", so that "blurs". In addition, in my own language - Italian - a general theft completed with ability is called "colpo di mano" ("hit of hand"), that translates literally the Latin VERBERO and that sounds more like English "sleight of hand". Nice, uh? Pwill 05:27, 19 November 2008 (UTC)