Educated in Catholic schools, both in Ireland and England, I always thought Latin was a widely taught subject. But it is not.
My qualification in it is not great – a B at ‘O’ level in 1982 – but I can see that puts me at a great advantage compared to the majority of the population, who really know no Latin at all. And I do like Latin.
So recently I decided to use tori and not toruses in the computer science half of my life and would always prefer
referenda to referendums in the politics side.
And here is the real reason for this blog – it annoys the hell out of me when I see Americans refer to past students of what they insist on calling “schools” – when they mean “universities” – as an alum. An alum, as ane fule kno,
is a mixture of two metals such as one might find in a filling in a tooth (update: fool here is me, it’s a potassium salt – thanks to “dental pedant” for pointing that out and leaving me humiliated). The words they want are either alumna or alumnus. Now there is an issue of gender-specific language here, but no more than there would be if we were speaking French, German, Spanish, Italian or whatever. So, please, either use the Latin correctly or don’t use it at all.
Middle-aged rant now over. Nothing to see, move along now.
(In fact all my Latin was taught at Finchley Catholic High School by the legendary Mr Perdoni)
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- Read a Latin Poem at the BM . . . and Pompeii coming to a cinema near you! (timesonline.typepad.com)