November 5, 2008

Verba Non Grata

Like a lot of people in the U.S., I woke up this morning thinking about the status of Latin in England’s towns. This concern stems from recent news that the Bournemouth Council has banned the use of nearly 20 Latin words and phrases from the mouths and pens of its local employees. The terms in question:
In addition to these, Salisbury has also banned ergo and QED (quod erat demonstrandum), and Fife has excommunicated ex officio (oh, good one!). While classics scholars have been soiling themselves and concocting the perfect Latin phrase to express their outrage, a spokesperson from the Plain English Campaign (a group that's appeared here before) praised the move:
[It] is important to remember that the national literacy level is about 12 years old and the vast majority of people hardly ever use these terms. It is far better to use words people understand.
Hmm. Instead of segregating Latin words out from English as sui generis (unique and unable to classify), why not be more inclusive? After all, don’t ALL the words in our dictionaries make English e pluribus unum? (Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.)


Anonymous said...

Illa est fabula horribilis! Why not be consistent, and ban ALL Latin words from the English Language? ( words like Virtue, Calamity, Audio, etc.-WHOOPS) And while we're at it, how about all scientific & medical terms ( as Homo Sapiens, Stat, Angina Pectoris, and others) We could then go after Legal Phrases (such as Quid Pro Quo, Habeas Corpus and Others) After a thorough cleansing, our Dictionary would be much cheaper to print, & much easier to transport--ooops, to move around! Mundus est Stultitiis Plenus!

Bart King said...

Last sentence translated: "The world is full of idiots."