Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Country Mottos Which Need A Makeover

© George Waters
The Wa Blog

Every great country has a motto, like the United States ("Now with 40% more swing states!").

I am joking. Our motto, of course, is "In God we trust," which our forefathers clearly came up with back before we started putting so much stock in our automatic weapons.

As hard as it is to believe, Great Britain has never had a motto. Recently, Prime Minister Gordon Brown (personal motto: "I am 'Anyone but Tony Blair'") has challenged his citizens to create a five-word slogan which represents the British in the way a great people who invented blood pudding and haggis deserve.

Top vote-getters in a London Times poll were: "Once mighty empire, slightly used," "Try writing history without us," and the winner, "No mottos, please, we're British." A few of my other favorites: "Full service will soon resume," "Mind your own bloody business," and "Drinking continues till morale improves."

Ah, the British. It must be hard to live in a place which was once acknowledged by the world to be its preeminent power, knowing that its glory days are behind it, watching other, hungrier countries taking its former place as #1.

Hey, wait a minute.

Many countries create mottos in Latin, which they probably think makes them sound more lofty. Brazil's motto, for example, is "Ordem e progresso" ("We'll have the soup!").

Some countries' mottos work best in their native language, as with Wales: " Y ddraig goch ddyry cychwyn" ("I'm choking. Little help!").

Or in Turkey: "Egemenlik kayitsiz sartsiz milletindir" ("Tofurkey is from Satan!").

Some countries' mottos even work best in a language completely unrelated to their own, like Uganda's: "Mi ganda es Uganda."

A surprising number of countries have no official motto, which I think is a mistake. A motto sets you apart, announces who you are, and also allows you to fill up those pesky border areas on your currency.

Some countries try to get by just using some generic slogan like "Fellowship, justice and freedom" or "Free refill Fridays." Somebody should give these countries some creative counsel, so for their betterment, I have come up with my own motto suggestions, and I submit them here for your approval:

Morocco: "Because 'Less-occo' just sounded kind of negative."

Paraguay: "When you just don't have enough room for the whole guay."

Jamaica: "Jamaica me crazy? No, we hadn't heard that one before. That's hilarious!"

Guyana: "Where dudes go for memorabilia."

Antigua and Barbuda: "We can't find us on a map either."

Oman: "We're what you say when you dent your dad's car."

Poland: "Birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe."

Qatar: "We're what you learn to play after you master the qiano."

Mali: "Like Bali, but without the babes."

South Africa: "It's not just for Whitey any more."

Togo: "Would you like to try that on our new cheesy Parmesan bread?"

Mauritania: "We sank off of our own coast years ago."

Seychelles: "Actually, we don't sell squat by the seashore."

Hey, I am only trying to help these folks stand out from the crowd. In today's world, you need a hook. I mean, who had ever heard of the island of Mauritius before my motto, "Fishes nutritious. Delicious! Mauritius"?

Now take Botswana. Botswana could really use my help. Its actual motto is "Pula" ("Rain"). Yes, "Rain." Truthful, yes. Sexy, no. I say we drop the weather forecast and go saucy. Saucy sells. How about this:

"Birds wanna. Bees wanna. Botswana. Don't you?"

Come to think of it, maybe Great Britain is fine the way it is.

. . .