Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Blow to Classical Education

There was an interesting article in the paper today. I looked it up online to share it with my readers. Apparently, some local councils in the UK have decided to toss out the use of certain Latin phrases because "the councils say Latin is no longer widely understood."

Keep in mind that some of the words included in this ban are pretty common. Words like et cetera, ad hoc, and bona fide. Marina said that back when she began studying Latin, she was surprised that these common phrases were Latin. They are very much a part of the English language. But one town 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."

The reasoning for eliminating the Latin words and phrases is to make government more accessible by doing away with "official jargon." And while I agree that official papers should be made easier to understand, is this the best way? I would find it insulting if my government started to talk down to me, as if I were too stupid to understand words that have been a common part of the English language for centuries. Marina pointed out that one of the phrases on the list-- status quo--is part of a song from the first High School Musical movie. If the Plain Language Campaign had its way, kids would need to sing it "Stick to the Existing Condition." Which doesn't seem to roll off the tongue as well.

The English language has a rich and diverse heritage. It has grown out of a myriad of languages. Each culture and country that has used it has enriched it and made it their own. It seems a shame to deprive it of its oldest roots.


ComfyDenim said...

It's really that they don't think people are smart... and people should be offended -- or that really will be the status quo.

Alison said...

Unbelievable. There are certainly some interesting things going on in the UK these days. This seems to me to be one of the more nonsensical. What happened to the idea that education is for learning this kind of thing?

biblioholic29 said...

That's ridiculous! I think I'd be quite tempted to buy a Latin phrase book and only speak Latin there!

Inner Elder said...

Well said!

Love, Mom

Keeley said...

1. That's sad

2. English people are insane. And I say this affection and absolute truth, because I am one.

England is a country where the older population is very conservative, but feel powerless and therefore don't speak out, and the younger population are socialists and very vocal. There are some crazy things going on over there in my used-to-be motherland and it makes me so sad.

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