Monday, November 03, 2008

A new (?) threat to English: Latin

English sure is under attack these days from every angle. Check out the headline of this article from the Telegraph:
Councils ban 'elitist' and 'discriminatory' Latin phrases
Yes, that is plural, councils. In more than one place in the UK, local councils are trying to ban stuff like 'etc.' Latin, like a linguistic zombie, rises from the crypt to threaten English!

Of course the piece has at least the usual amount of claptrap about people 'not knowing Latin' (these words and phrases are really part of English), about Latin loanwords as 'the great strength' of English (poor Germanic vocabulary!), blah blah freakin' blah.

The bottom line:
Professor Mary Beard, a professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge said: "This is absolute bonkers …".
Thank you, Professor Beard. Of course, bonkers is probably more obscure than half the Latin terms banned, so maybe that should be rephrased. (The word is recent and etymologically pretty unclear, I think.)

Hat tip to R.

(Image from here. Pictured from left, that's Habeas Corpus, Ipso Facto, Primus Dudus, and Accusativus C. Infinitivo.)

4 comments:

Virtual Linguist said...

A case of the pot calling the kettle black here, I think. Most of the Latin phrases in question are a lot more comprehensible than the gobbledegook local government uses. These phrases all appear on my local council in London's website: Best value perfomance indicators, team space, location-independent, curtilage of a dwellinghouse ... and many more.

Mr. Verb said...

Curtilage of a dwellinghouse? I think that's illegal in Wisconsin.

Yeah, the whole thing is really bonkers.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Let's bring back "real" English - dual number, case declensions, thou...

rpmason said...

Then call me bonkers! I'm a technical writer and I haven't used Latin--not even e.g. or etc.--in a published document in over 20 years. Bonus bonker points: my documents have appendixes and indexes.