Silly

11/03/08

Permalink 10:36:56 am, by Chris Jones Email , 276 words, 1084 views   English (US)
Categories: News, Modern Latin

Silly

That’s the first word that popped in my head when I read about some local council efforts in England to ban Latin terms. I mean really, vice versa is elitist? By that standard councils may want to consider banning polysyllabic English words.

Here’s a sample dispatch from the pending idiocracy:

(T)he move has been welcomed by the Plain English Campaign which says some officials only use Latin to make themselves feel important.

Imputing another’s motives based merely on personal feelings is solipsism–look it up if you don’t know what it means. And then there’s this brilliant insight:

A Campaign spokesman said the ban might stop people confusing the Latin abbreviation e.g. with the word “egg".

Really? While many readers might not know the letters stand for exempli gratia, I’ve heard more than a few who think it means “example given"–a workable definition–and not a single one who ever though it meant “egg".

Adding…the Daily Mail article includes a list with suggested alternatives; Vice versa = “the other way round". I also realize that immigrant communities where English is a second language can be bullied by overly-stylized language. But I don’t think that’s the real issue here; some folks consider Latin in general to be elitist, and there are few things folks enjoy more than deflating a perceived snobbery, no matter the consequences.

If you disagree, that’s what comments are for, and I’d love to hear an explanation of the elitism behind terms/abbreviations like etc., ad lib., and vice versa. Aren’t these pretty much a part of standard English, and are circumlocutions like “the other way round” really a better choice?

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