I saw this coat of arms of the city of Paris over a school doorway in the 14e arrondissement.
Fluctuat nec mergitur. Ye motto of ye city of Paris. The tall-masted ship made me wonder when and how the motto came about -- obviously from the maritime trade that reached Paris via the Seine. But how would a boat with masts make it past all the bridges of Paris?
A few light bulbs glimmer in the attic. Duh. When the blason was adopted, there weren't all the bridges. I'm pretty sure I learned about this a decade ago when I read Mort Rosenblum's irresistible The Secret Life of the Seine.
Fluctuat nec mergitur -- or FLVCTVAT NEC MERGITVR when chiseled in stone -- means "She is tossed by the waves yet does not sink."
More modern translation: think of the Timex watch commercials "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking!"
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