The world in 1529

A nearly monosyllabic (in Italian) statement about the state of the world in 1529.

Language Log » Filosofia monosillabica (

My attempt at a translation:

Those who can, don’t want to
Those who want to, can’t
Those who know how, don’t
Those who do, don’t know how
And thus the world goes badly

Pedants’ corner

My translation commits an error that I corrected in colleagues’ drafts countless times over the last few months: I’ve put a comma between the subject and the verb in each of the first four lines. But the lines would be indecipherable without the comma, so in this one case I have committed the lesser offence of breaking the unbreakable rule.

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