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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On chat last night I was asked what "Semper Vaporo" meant. I said I would post the results of the research I did when I came up with the phrase several years ago.  I wrote this document back then and dug it out to post here.  I suppose that there might be some Latin scholar that will find fault with my research, but it is the best I could do given the tools I had at hand at the time.  I tried for a while to get some folk interested in using the phrase as a sort of Mantra or battle cry for Live Steam, but nobody was much interested in it, so I took it on as my "web presence" (and as the closing words in place of "Sincerely yours" or "Your's truly" before the signature in letters and other correspondence, something which very few people ever seemed to notice).  It has also now become the motto of my railroad.
The derivation of the phrase: "Semper Vaporo":
Many years ago, I wanted a Latin phrase that meant a particular thing... I was told about "Dictionary.com" on the internet and found on there several Latin to English conversion web sites. I found NO English to Latin dictionaries (there are many now), thus I had to "guess" what Latin word might be the one I wanted and rely on the various web sites to maybe list few synonyms that might get me where I wanted.
I was familiar with the mottos of both the U. S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard; "Semper Fidelis" and "Semper Paratus", respectively. In English, "Semper" translates to; "Forever", "Always", or "Eternally". The second word of the Marine Corps motto translates to "Faithful", or "True (to)". It is a root of the English word "Fidelity". The Coast Guard motto's second word translates to "Prepared", "Ready" or "Equipped".
Anyway, being the "Steam Locomotive NUT" that I am, I wanted a Latin word or phrase that would represent "Steam" locomotives and how "I" feel about them.
But..., obviously, when Latin was the language in vogue there were no Steam Locomotives around to have a word coined to identify them, so I needed some other word that would be well suited to express what a Steam Locomotive was all about (in "my" mind).
I found several words that were "close", but lacked something in deeper meaning or had some "OTHER" problem... to wit:
Fumo = an out-gassing, smoke, or smell... "Semper Fumo" could imply "Forever Smoking", and although I like the visual of a Steam Locomotive blasting out a good plume of smoke as it works its way up a hill, that, today, is not "Environmentally Correct". Besides, the phrase could also be interpreted as "Forever stinking" and that was not what I wanted to say!
Pervaporo = Fog, but implying aroma, smell or to reek. The root is part of the French "parfum" or English "perfume". Although some folks like the smells of coal smoke and hot oil, with my allergies I prefer the pure "steam" sight and sound and to leave the smell out of it. It could also be translated as "Forever Reeking", which, again, is something I would rather not have associated with my railway.
Vapor = Fog, clouds, etc.... "Semper Vapor" could mean "Stuck in the Clouds", which, while quite true about me, is not really something I want to call attention to.
One of the dictionaries tried to guess what I wanted and insisted on changing "Vapor" to "Vapula" and said that it meant "to knock about, beat or flog"... definitely NOT something I want to say in association with "Semper", as I only need THAT periodically.
Vaporatae Nebulae = Cloud like, indistinct... not quite what I wanted. Locomotives are definitely not "nebulous" and although "Semper Vaporatae" could be translated as "forever in steam", it could also be translated as "forever in a fog". Apropos to me maybe, but I would rather not refer to my railway that way.
Vaporifer = Emitting steam, or full of vapors. Close to what I wanted, but I feared the association of being "full of vapors" and any double-entendre that might conjure up.
"Vaporalis" = of, or belonging to, steam. Close, but I belong to God, not steam. In that regard, I might have settled for "Tempora Vaporalis" but then I'd have to explain my theology so that no one would think I am in favor of that accursed Diesel.
Vaporata:= Filled With Steam. This refers to just a static condition, and there are already too many "stuffed and mounted" locomotives in parks and static museums that will forever be in that static condition... I prefer the ones that are in use and I found one other word that implied a more dynamic condition.
Vaporo - Steam "in transition, a warm exhalation, the vapor of breathing, or to infuse with breath/vapor", also associated with the vapor coming from cooking… They didn't really understand the difference between the invisible gas form of H2O at 212 deg. F and the visible result of that gas cooling and condensing to the visible water droplets most people (even today) think of as "steam". (Remember, they believed that all things were made of three elements, Earth, Water and Fire.) At least they seemed to understand the dynamics of the result of boiling water.
The simple translation of "Semper Vaporo" is "Forever Steam", but it is intended to convey the "dynamics" of steam, as in a Railroad Steam Locomotive, and that I want them to be around, and in use, forever.

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Oh! Charles!

The vagaries of translating not only language but also culture!!! Remember "When it was time for man to go railroading, he went railroading."Lazarus Long" - fictional but some times wise character).

I found this:

This from Notre Dame University.

Search term "Always Steaming"

nunquam (numquam) [never]; 'nunquam non' , [always]; 'non nunquam', [sometimes].
pervigil -ilis [always watchful].

semper [always , at all times].

usque [through and through , all the way; continuously; always]; 'usque Romam', [as far as Rome]; 'usque a Romulo', [ever since Romulus].

usquequaque [always].

steaming {blank}"

Now Roman Latin was a lot like modern German, if you need a new term or word then you use the
established forms and add or vary the ending.

So I suggest as "A Modest Proposal" that you change your "Handle" to:

"Usque Vaporis", the "is" ending on vapor- indicating action or work being performed.

I know that your American culture is familiar with the Latin "Semper Fideles", but this is a passive statement of fact, I believe that in your case the more active "usque" is more appropriate, in Latin.

Just some thoughts, been 30 years since I used my latin (can still hear Dr. Zabarowski - - - "ARE YOU SO DUMB, SO STUPID? YOU CANNOT LEARN A FEW LATIN VERBS!!"

It is all in the name of fun!


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IMHO "Usque Vaporis" would translate to "toward [to] the steam" or simply "in steam", as in the expression "mare usque ad maris" from "sea to sea" "semper vaporis" might be more literally correct, but I've forgotten most of my latin grammar, and I loaned my grammar text out in the '70s and never got it back (something I always regretted...) :)

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5,578 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh yeah and I also had a brass plaque cast of my corporate logo except the headlight beam has the "Semper Vaporo" motto in it (not below the image as the logo shows in my sig.).  I have also put other mottos in the headlight beam... at one time my railroad used "The straight line, short line" (I only had 40feet of straight track on some boards on the ground) and "The waist level route" (a play on the NYC "Water level route" motto, because my track is now all elevated to the waist level). I settled on "Semper Vaporo" because getting all those words in the headlight beam made the leading words too small to read.
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