Local walks

Solvitur ambulando

a Latin phrase which means “it is solved by walking”

First came accross this on Twitter, where it was pointed out: “‘In’ or ‘while’ rather than ‘by’, I think. If Latin wants to convey causality I’d expect a more specific construction.”


From Wikipedia

The phrase appears early in Lewis Carroll’s “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles”, where Achilles uses it to accentuate that he was indeed successful in overtaking Tortoise in their race to empirically test one of Zeno’s paradoxes of motion. This passage also appears in Douglas Hofstadter’s book Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979).


In Dorothy L. Sayers’s Clouds of Witness (1926), during the Duke of Denver’s trial before the House of Lords, the Lord High Steward suggests (to laughter) solvitur ambulando to determine whether the decedent crawled or was dragged to a different location, as this was a matter of dispute between the prosecution and the defense.


The phrase is also cited in The Songlines (1986) by Bruce Chatwin in its first meaning. Chatwin, who “passionately believed that walking constituted the sovereign remedy for every mental travail”, learned it from Patrick Leigh Fermor and immediately wrote it down in his notebook.


The phrase is discussed multiple times and at some length in The Tao of Travel (2011) by Paul Theroux. It also appears in the writings of Aleister Crowley, and Oliver Sacks. It is the motto of the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society.


Credit to tefket for the image of their badge (which is for sale)

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