Archive for Tuesday, November 4, 2008

British councils are no Latin lovers

November 4, 2008


— It's a bona fide scandal.

Britain's Latin and Greek aficionados are outraged at a decision by some local councils to veto the use of Latin words and phrases - including bona fide, ad lib, et cetera and e.g. - in official documents.

The councils say Latin is no longer widely understood. But classicists say axing Latin phrases is an attack on the foundations of English - the linguistic equivalent of "ethnic cleansing."

The council in Bournemouth, a town of 170,000 on England's south coast, has a "plain language" policy that lists 19 Latin words and phrases to be avoided, and suggests replacements. The council recommends "improvised" instead of ad hoc, and "genuine" for bona fide.


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