|1. Introduction: An English proverb in Romance words.||5. History.|
|2. Variations of form.||5.1. The Trinity College manuscript.|
|3. Grammatical issues.||5.2. The Thames Ditton brass.|
|3.1. Ungrammatical in Spanish.||5.3. The Earls of Bedford.|
|3.2. Ungrammatical in Italian.||5.4. Christopher Marlowe.|
|3.3. Grammatical in medieval French?||5.5. Three and a half centuries of KSS.|
|4. No Romance proverb.||5.6. Doris Day et al.|
|4.1. No French proverb.||5.7. Beyond English.|
|4.2. No Spanish refrán.||6. Commentary.|
|4.3. No Italian proverb.||6.1. A motto is not a proverb.|
|6.2. From emblematic to expressive.|
||6.3. Ethnic stereotypes.|
|(1) The question of future truths is a matter of verbal convenience and is as innocuous as Doris Day’s tautological fatalism “Che sarà sarà.” (Quine 1995: 199).|
|(2) ...none other than the notorious “Che sara, sara” sung by Doris Day....” (Žižek 2001: 118)|
||(3) Clara did not reply. Instead she started humming “Che sarà sarà” (Achebe 1960: 15)|
||(4) The top ten was rounded out with such standard fare as “Lisbon Antigua” by Nelson Riddle, “Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant, “Poor People of Paris” by Les Baxter, “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Che Sarà Sarà)” by Doris Day,.... (Uslan, Clark, and Solomon 1981: 20)|
|Figure 1: Comparative frequencies of “Che sara sara” (Italian spelling) and “Que sera sera” (Spanish spelling), 1760-2008. Graph adapted from Google Books Ngram Viewer; “ppb” = “parts per billion.”4|
|(5) ¿Qué dijo? — What did he/she say?|
|(6) No puedo creer lo que dijo. — I can’t believe what he/she said.|
|(7) Recuerda lo que te dije ayer. — Remember what I told you yesterday.|
|(8) Sostenia que el hombre es pariente del mono, lo que regocijaba a doña Bernarda. — He claimed that man is a relative of the monkey, which delighted Doña Bernarda. (DeBruyne 1995: 192)|
|Lo que is used as a relative pronoun when it refers to an idea or a statement that is expressed by the previous clause [i.e. the clausal anatecedent]. Its closest equivalent in English is that which [true only for the free relative], although this does not always fit the Spanish [a veiled allusion to the existence of the two categories]. It has the same value as lo cual [true only for the clausal relative]. (Batchelor and San José 2010: 324)|
|Lo que is also used
when it follows a neuter pronoun, or a noun used without article (or
even with), or with the indefinite article. The meaning falls halfway
between reference to a group of words or an idea and specific nouns.
(Batchelor and San José 2010: 325)
neuter relative pronouns, quello
che, ciò che,
are used to replace a general or abstract idea rather than a specific
antecedent. They are similar to the English what and that which. All
three of them are interchangeable.
Ciò che dici non è vero. What you say is not true.
Quel che ti consiglio è di studiare. What I suggest to you is to study.
Non capisco quello che dice. I don’t understand what he/she says.
(Germano and Schmitt 2007: 234)
not, however, surprising to find a wrong Italian motto, in a
country [Britain?] where a multiplicity of volumes, professedly
treating of the Italian grammar, and colloquial style, daily appear,
containing the most absurd rules, and despicable barbarisms, which
meet, nevertheless, with the warmest reception, even by the reviewers.
As to incorrect Italian Mottos, even the English Peerage contains one.
We read under the arms of a Most Noble Duke [i.e. the Duke of Bedford],
CHE SARA SARA.
The Italian adage, however, says so
SARA QUEL CHE SARA.
and it might have easily been corrected by attending an Opera Buffa, (Gli Zíngari in Fiéra), performed at the King’s Theatre (London) some years ago, where the music of the Finale, at the end of the first act, turned chiefly upon this proverb Sarà quel che sarà. (Galignani 1823: 219-220)
|(9) Ki ne norit n’asavore.
nourish doesn’t taste pleasant.] (Morawski 1925: 74)12
cuis home en trestot cest regné,
Mien esciant, james en vostre aé,
Qui vos osast, outre vo volenté,
Dir ne fere qui vos deust pezer.
[I believe that there is, in all your kingdom, nobody, in my opinion, who dared, during your life, to say or do anything that could give offense to you.]13
|(10) Lo que ha de ser,
Dios o el diablo lo han de traer; or
Lo que ha de ser, será: Dios o el diablo lo acarreará.—What is to be, God
or the devil will bring it about.
(11) Lo que ha de ser, sea ya.—What is to be, let it be.
(12) Lo que ha de ser, ya fué.—What is to be, has already been [determined].
(13) Dios sabe lo que será.—God knows what will be. (Maldonado 1966: 122).
(14) Lo que ha de ser, será, o el mundo se hundirá.—What is to be, will be; [the contrary is as unlikely as the end of the world]. (“Recopilación...,” n.d.).
|(15) Quel che si fa all’oscuro
apparisce al sole.—What
goes on in the dark will come out in the light. (Giusti
and Capponi 1956: 76; Bellonzi 1968: 160)
(16) Quel che fu duro a patire, è dolce a ricordare.—What was hard to suffer is sweet to remember. (Giusti and Capponi 1956: 246; Bellonzi 1968: 170)
(17) Quel che non ammazza, ingrassa.—What doesn’t kill you makes you nice and fat. (Giusti and Capponi 1956: 313; Bellonzi 1968: 30)
(18) Quello che non và in suole, và in tomaia.—That which goeth not into the soles, goeth into the upper leather. (Torriano 1649: 87).
(19) Quello che si fa il primo dell’anno si fa tutto l’anno.—What you do on New Year’s Day, you’ll do all year long. (“Wikiquote,” n.d.).
|(20) Oggi la distinzione tra finzione e realtà è diventata irrilevante, priva di interesse. Che sarà sarà, come canticchiava Doris Day. (Today the distinction between fiction and reality has become irrelevant, uninteresting. What will be will be, as Doris Day sang.) (Blonsky and Desnoes 2000: n.p.)|
|(21) “Credo che potremmo sospendere l’uso degli anticoncezionali e vedere quel che succede”, suggerii. “Ah”, fece Jenny con l’aria di chi la sa lunga. “Il vecchio metodo Que sera, sera di pianificazione famigliare” (Grogan 2006: 129). (“I guess we could just go back off birth control again and see what happens,” I suggested. “Ah,” Jenny said knowingly. “The old Que sera, sera school of family planning.” [Grogan 2005: 111]).|
|(22) ... è sempre utile la conclusione di Altan, fra i lavoratori della vecchia classe, quella operaia: “E allora concedimi l’ultimo slow e poi que serà serà”. (... it’s always helpful to remember Altan’s conclusion, among the workers of the old working class: “So give me the last slowdown [labor tactic] and then, whatever happens happens.”) (Berselli 2007).|
|Homo proponit [man proposes]: oftymes in veyn||}
|But deus disponit [God disposes] The boke [i.e. the Bible] telleth pleyn|
|Figure 2: First documentation of
KSS, in the unique, French-like spelling “quy serra serra.”
From the Trinity College manuscript
(ca. 1471), with permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity
College, Cambridge University. Click here for
|Figure 3: A rubbing of the Thames
Ditton brass, first documentation of the Spanish spelling “Que sera
sera,” ca. 1559, from Stephenson (1918: 68). Reproduced courtesy of
Surrey Archaeological Society. Colors reversed for legibility. The
original image is on page 48 of the online
|It may have been the second earl [i.e. Francis] who adopted as motto Che sara sara. We know that his father used a posy, Plus que jamais, and that his favorite saying was reported to be, “Sans l’ayde de Dieu, le ne puis.” We do not know if he ever used, “Che sara sara,” but he may have done. It is not impossible that he originated it, for Italian mottoes became very popular in the sixteenth century, but its first known appearance seems to be on his tomb. It was certainly recognised as the family motto in the time of his son. (Scott Thomson 1930: 228)25|
sorte of men contynually forecast,
and doe dyvine of thinges which maye insue,
neuer respecting what is gone and past,
but what’s to come, that deeme they wilbe true,
Though falce in fine; for why? by proofe we see,
che sara, sara, What shalbe, shalbe.
No fatall feare, or dread of destenye,
can daunte a mynd which euer is resolv’d.
Mans thought is fraile, his forecast vanitye,
which when I ofte within my mynde revolu’d,
I took my pen and writt this worde for me,
Che sara, sara, what shalbe, shalbe.
To show he bilt his acttions of the Lord,
Not as the most, on fortunes smiling cheare:
He chose Che sera, sera, for his word.
Gods will shalbe, in heauen aboue and heare. (Whetstone 1585)
|Figure 4: “Che sara sara” (Italian
spelling) on the coat of arms of the Dukes of Bedford. An
interpretation of the blazon, from the Bedford Chapel, Chenies,
Buckinghamshire, with permission of the Middlesex
Stipendium peccati mors est
The reward of sin is death: that’s hard.
Si peccasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas;
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and
there’s no truth in us. Why, then, belike we must sin, and so
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this, Che sera, sera,
What will be, shall be? Divinity, adieu! (Marlowe 1604/2008)
|St. Mawes’ Castle. Capt. Hannibal Bonithon to Nicholas. Knows not what is intended of him there. Hears daily reports that the place will be given over his head; if it be, que sera, sera, he will retire, and live private. (Calendar of State Papers, 1864: 211)27|
|On the ground are flat gravestones, with these inscriptions. Arms at top.—Argent, a fess gules, in chief, a lion passant gardant sable, all within a bordure engrailed ermine. Crests on a wreath, a lion’s head, couped sable, collared Argent. Motto, “Que sera sera.” “Here lyeth Richard Betenson, [...] He departed this life in the 45th year of his age, 1677.” (Bartlett 1865: 77)28|
|I thank you dear Morton, says Archy, go and try to persuade my good Mother to believe the Italian Doctrine, Che sara sara, or in plain English Proverb, you know, Cousin, that Marriages are made in Heaven (Kidgell 1755: Vol. 1, p. 288).|
|George III sits on a throne, and the torn petitions from the county associations lie under his feet. The ghost of Lord Chatham shows him the result of neglecting the petitions of his people: in an inset picture, devils conduct the kings of France and Spain, followed by Lord North and other leaders of the British government, towards a pit inscribed “Chaos” (Hunt 2003: 47).|
|The motto, mot, word, expression, saying, or epigraph, added or appropriated to arms, not being hereditary, may be taken, changed, varied, or relinquished, when and as often as the bearer thinks fit; and may, with impunity to the assumer, be the very same as is used by other families (Clark 1829: 72).|
|Escutcheon, sable; a fess wavy or [i.e. gold color], between three wolfs’ heads erased argent. “Que sera sera.” Reverse, 50th year. STANLEY PIPE WOLFERSTAN, Aug. 12, 1835. (Woodmen of the Forest of Arden, 1885: 57)|
|Mi colega, Senor Livingston fué muy impresionada con la película y el anotó esta frase como un posible título por una canción; solamente el tradujo en Español porque este lenguage pareció mejor por una canción de éxito. (My colleague Mr. Livingston was very impressed with the film, and he made a note of this phrase as a possible title for a song; only he translated [it] into Spanish because this language seemed better for a hit song.) (Evans 1995).|
|They had reached the house, and Beatrice pointed to the motto over the door. “Qui sera sera,” she said. And, as he bent down to kiss her hand, he also whispered “Qui sera sera,” with a sense of complete satisfaction. (Sutcliffe 1896: 57)|
|Already it appeared that my rede was being spun for me, and that I had but to look on and submit. My childish impatience and wilfulness being gone, into their place had come, in lieu of higher trust, a certain passive humility; half fatalist perhaps. I said to myself, “Che sarà, sarà,” and ceased struggling with the blind time that had overtaken me. (Lee 1860: 124)|
||(23) There are those who make their living out of the book-stalls by buying to sell again, a sordid use to make of the immortal thoughts of mankind, but qui sera sera. (Lewin 1902/03: 89)|
||(24) The USA was blamed for sending another rocket into space, but the cynical rest just shrugged their shoulders and thought “Qui Sera Sera”, and left it at that! (Russell 2010: 41)|
|[W]ho that has known that pleasure of all pleasures, the gliding down the Grand Canal of Venice in a gondola, […] has not paused before the Ca’ d’Oro, and envied its possessor, before asking the possessor’s name? —“Sior! La Taglioni,”37 being the answer of the Checco or Damiani who sculls the traveller forwards. But “che sara, sara” (“Musical and Dramatic Gossip” 1859: 216c).|
|The gallant Cuban shrugged his spare shoulders again, and setting his theodolite-stand down, deliberately rolled and lighted a fresh cigarette. “Que sera sera,” he said, blowing the blue smoke from his nostrils. “We must all die when our time comes. What matters it, then, where or how?” (Leslie 1882: 17)|
|Filipinos may appear stoic because they believe pain is the will of God and thus God will give them the strength to bear it. Besides, one cannot change it. This attitude is reminiscent of the fatalistic Hispanic concept Qué será será. (Galanti 2008: 56).|
probably means something like this […]: “On this occasion, we will be
relaxed about alcohol, the way we believe that Mexicans are relaxed
about alcohol, rather than careful and responsible and sober like White