American talk show host and conservative political commentator, Sean Hannity, recently released his latest book Live Free or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink. The book makes the case that “now is an All Hands on Deck moment to save the Republic”, and was published earlier this week. The cover of the book featured a motto in Latin which read “vivamus vel libero perit Americae”, which Hannity explained on Fox News translates to “live free or America dies”, but it has since been noted this phrase is actually complete nonsense.
The error was picked up by Indiana University Bloomington classics student Spencer Alexander McDaniel, who published a post on his blog highlighting how the phrase makes no sense.
“It is clear that whoever came up with this motto does not even know the basic noun cases in Latin or how they work,” McDaniel continued “The words in Hannity’s motto are real Latin words, but, the way they are strung together, they don’t make even a lick of sense.”
When translated into English, the phrase reads “Let’s live or he … passes away from America for the detriment of a free man”. McDaniel speculated that the phrase had literally been put into Google translate, without any further checks. A quick search shows that Google translates the phrase to mean “live free or dies Americans”. McDaniel’s translation is almost certainly the most accurate one, but Google confirms that the motto makes no real sense.
After the mistake was shared on social media, the book’s cover was updated so motto reads “Vivamus liberi ne America pereat”, which McDaniel says “neatly translates into English to mean, ‘Let us live free so that America will not die’.”
“Curiously, the unintelligible Latin word salad has vanished from the front cover and been replaced,” wrote McDaniel. “This makes me wonder: Did someone at Threshold Editions read my blog post and realize they needed to fix the bad Latin?”
Given that it seems someone at Hannity’s publisher had indeed read his post, McDaniel went on to address Hannity, writing: “Sean Hannity, if you’re reading this, I want you to go on your show and publicly admit that you’ve done nothing on air for the past 11 years but peddle lies, nonsense, and conspiracy theories. Then, I want you to disavow white supremacy, misogyny and xenophobia, acknowledge the reality and seriousness of climate change, and tell all your viewers to take Covid-19 seriously and wear masks in public at all times.”