Nice city, shame about the motto

It seems a very American thing for cities to have mottos (mottoes if you prefer) - and many US cities even have more than one. San Diego, for example, confidently claims to be 'The Place Where California Began', 'Plymouth of the West', 'The First Great City of the 21st Century' and, perhaps most contentiously, 'America's Finest City'.

British cities also have mottos, but they tend to be in Latin, or unknown to the general public, or both. Wolverhampton's motto is 'Out of darkness cometh light'; Sheffield goes the Latin route with 'Deo Adjuvante Labor Proficit' (with God's help our labour is successful); Birmingham laconically chooses 'Forward'.

My nomination for the British city with the worst motto is Derby (which, for all our non-British readers, rhymes with 'Barbie'). Its motto, in full, is 'DerbYes! The city where you can'. My first objection is to the 'DerbYes' part. I am assuming this is a combination of 'Derby' and 'yes', but it is easy to read it as the nonsensical two-word phrase Derb Yes, or possibly as a misspelling of 'Derbies'.

Secondly, 'the city where you can'? Can what? Get mugged? Stabbed? Be homeless? Jobless? Even assuming the motto writers intended something positive, what is it that you can do in Derby than you can't do anywhere else? Except, perhaps, be ashamed of having the worst motto in the country...

12 comments:

Gingerous Humerous Maximus said...

I think mine and JD's home town of Bracknell which claims to be "The town of opportunity" is a particularly good one. Since the only oppotunities you have there are if you leave and make a better life for yourself or accept your fate and become a chav

JD said...

I've trying to think of a motto for Bracknell which is both accurate and positive. The best I can come up with is 'Bracknell: only an hour from London' or 'Bracknell: at least it's not Luton'... any other ideas?

Gareth said...

Bracknell: Marginally Better Than Milton Keynes

Gareth said...

Bracknell: We Have Roundabouts AND Underpasses

Gareth said...

Bracknell: Not Slough

JD said...

Shouldn't that be, Bracknell: like Milton Keynes but without the big shopping centre

Sarah said...

I was looking through a property magazine earlier, I found an ad about the regeneration of Derby. It would seem that the 'DerbYes' motto has been changed to 'Derby does it!'...I think it's time to sack the motto writers.

JD said...

Brilliant - Derby does what?

When Googling 'Derby does it' just now I came across a BBC article with the headline, 'Derby, A City on the Brink'. To me that suggests the whole place is about to drop into a precipice...

Anonymous said...

Derby has a motto "Industria Virtus et Fortitudo" its on the coat of arms... don't know where you got that other rubbish from

agglutinate said...

I grew up in alamogordo, nm, usa. I just looked at our motto and it turns out to be 'the friendliest place on earth'. The strength of this motto is the nearly ungodly amount of sarcasm in it. Its a small, desert, military town near the mexico border. For you brits, you can get a feel for alamo by watching 'no country for old men'. So... I think I win with town with most inaccurate motto...

Anonymous said...

It does say ''Derby Yes'' in certain places around the city but this is not Derby's mottor it is just one of those promotional slogans that the council like to come up with - as per the previous comment the city's motto is: Industria Virtus et Fortitudo - which translates into some thing along the lines of ''Fortune from Industry!''

Mark said...

Derby motto is industria virtus et fortitudo and that means (industry, power and strength) and they have changed DerbYes to Derby does it now.