Posted by Smokey Stover on March 04, 2004
In Reply to: "Don't let the bastards grind you down" posted by Bob on March 04, 2004
: : I saw your reference to this and wonder if there could be more to this than just a vernacular expression in its coarsest sense. (Excuse the pun). I am wondering if there might be a play on words in reference to a common type of file the "Bastard File". Clearly there is more than a singular connection with grinding and filing and bastard as a file type. Just throwing this open to see what others think.
: It's a nice theory, and perhaps whoever coined the witticism had some unconscious association with a bastard file, but the theory, if taken literally, would indicate that one should avoid a particular kind of file, as if the others wouldn't do the job. Not plausible.
For a time there was a fad for identifying the pseudo-motto "Illegitimi non carborundum est" with the pseudo-translation, "Don't let the bastards grind you down." Or "wear you down." Carborundum is a commercial product used for grinding, and the word was probably unknown to the Romans. Moreover, the syntax of the supposed motto is even more improbable. However, a less preposterous version is offered on a web-site of which I have forgotten the name: "Non illegitimis carborundum est." It is not to be ground down by the bastards. SS