Monday, November 3, 2008

Latin: "integral to the flavour of our speech as chilli is to curry"

The Sunday Telegraph ("Non possumus, says Bournemouth council on Latin", November 2, 2008) reported on the decision of Bournemouth council (in England) to ban the use of Latin ("NB, eg, ie and etc are too difficult for the average British citizen to understand") in any official documents. A longer article has appeared in The Mail ("The councils who ban Latin words because they are 'elitist and discriminatory' and confuse immigrants", November 3, 2008). Mary Beard is quoted:
"This is absolutely bonkers and the linguistic equivalent of ethnic cleansing."

The BBC has also carried the story: "Councils ban use of Latin terms". This includes the comment:
the move has been welcomed by the Plain English Campaign which says some officials only use Latin to make themselves feel important.


David Gill said...

See the letter from the Friends of Classics broadcast on BBC Radio 4.


As a non-Englishman or British subject, I was shocked by this piece of information. If the written language of officials is not clear,this is not the way to go about it. If the average citizen does not understand what officials write,it may be better to improve the education of both the officials and the general public.
One should also not use immigrants as an excuse for a decision(also a Latin-derivative) to proscribe,sorry,to ban Latin. Are those who made this ridiculous measure not aware of the role of Latin in the formation of the various European languages? A step like this in the period of the European Union beats the imagination. Kwame Opoku.