Ah Latin, Ah Humanity (Long)

Subject: Ah Latin, Ah Humanity (Long)
From: Brad Connatser <cwrites -at- USIT -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 19:28:24 GMT

I have responded to snippets of grammar lore with an unintentional
disparagement toward Latin. So, to atone, I offer a montage of Latin


Top Five Reasons Technical Communicators Benefit from Studying Latin:

1. Enables you to understand the precise meanings and etymology of most of
our prefixes and suffixes.

2. Enables you to figure out pedantic locutions (such as "pedantic
locutions") derived from Latin.

3. Enables you to enter the specialized discourse (and perhaps land a job
thereby) of doctors and lawyers, whose language is filled with Latin

4. Enables you to understand and apply the concept of meter-by-syllable
to--yes--even technical communication.

5. Enables you to ridicule with confidence such English-composition rules
as "Never split an infinitive."

Simply, Latin enables you, the scriptor, the editor.


However, using Latin in your prose is a different matter. Please read the
excellent article by Tim Altom:

"Why We Use Big Words: A Historical Perspective," Technical Communication,
Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 456-58.


Dramatis Personae: Bill Sullivan (The Interlocutor #1), Brad Connatser
(Interlocutor #2)

The dialogue begins in medias res:

Bill: I hate to see this interpreted to mean that
the study of Latin is a waste of time and should be done away with.

Brad: Actually, I'm trying to preserve the real value of Latin as a
vessel of lofty ideas

Bill: Personally, as a writer, I like it for its simplicity. "Ut"
instead of in order to, "veni, vidi, vici," and so forth and

Brad: (ever read Aeneas in the original?)

Bill: Yup. My senior year in high school in San Francisco. I've got
a two-volume translation (Latin on one side, English on the other) on
my shelf at home that I occasionally break out to see how far I can
get with the Latin before focusing on the translation.

Brad: I think by divorcing the rule about ending a sentence with a
preposition from Latin grammar, people resent Latin less.

Bill: It seems apparent that some people a hundred or so years ago
decided that English should follow the Latin structure so they made
up this rule. I would say the fault lies with rule-making, and
would-be rule makers, and not with Latin. Latin still has lots to
tell a writer, and those who would write should know that.

Brad: As for me, I love the language.

Bill: I do, too. Can you tell?


Finis. (I know: It's off-topic.)


Brad Connatser
Concurrent Communications
cwrites -at- usit -dot- net

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