Posted by: secretperson | November 2, 2008

Secret Person Bans anti-Elitist Councils

OK I have no power to ban anything, and I am a live-and-let-live sort of a person normally, but some things still annoy me.

Some idiots at Bournemouth council have banned employees from using Latin phrases when communicating with the public. Apparently not everyone knows Latin, so it would be confusing to use the phrases etc, eg and via.

The council have, as councils are wont to do, blamed it on the problems of non-native English speakers. Well I don’t blame the foreigners, I blame the people who took the decision. All the words and phrases banned are English words. They are common. I don’t know Latin, but I know ‘e.g.’ means ‘for example’.

The Plain English Campaign, of whom I am normally a fan, have come out on the side of the council. Saying:

It is far better to use words people understand. Often people in power are using the words because they want to feel self important. It is not right that voters should suffer because of some official’s ego.

I find it hard to comment because I am confused by her elitist use of the Latin word ego.

The thing is, this is not an issue of Plain English. If they had issued guidelines to use simple phrases and to keep their meaning clear, I wouldn’t be complaining. Why single out Latin derived words? I can only assume it is some kind of anti-elitist, only public school boys learn Latin, inverted snobbery.

Still, in slightly dubious Latin, and via the pen (although possibly not originally, certainly to me) of the great Terry Pratchett:

Nil illegitimo carborundum

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Responses

  1. I see that the new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants all schools in the city to teach Latin. However I would prefer Esperanto, not only because of its relative ease of learning, but because it has great propaedeutic values, also.

    Check http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670 if you have time.

    A glimpse of the language can be seen at http://www.lernu.net


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