new life form for Latin?

Anne Marie Hamilton AHami93942 at AOL.COM
Fri May 10 19:31:55 UTC 2002

I don't want to suggest that Latin lives again, but I came across a phrase that surprised me. Generally I think of Latin changing only lexically, and then only by the addition of terms of classification.  Just today, a friend of mine who is a biochemist showed me the following quote from a scientific paper: "We have recently been able to identify both _in silico_ and experimentally the replication origin of the archaeon P.abyssi..."  The phrase within the underline marks was italicized in the original text.  The quote refers to the authors' discovery of the gene responsible for replication of the microorganism Pyrococcus abyssi, which live only in boiling water at ocean vents.  My friend had never seen _in silico_ used before, but was instantly able to interpret it to mean "to do an experiment in the computer" the same way _in vitro_ means "in the bottle" and _in vivo_ means "in the body."
Well, it is obvious that the terms _in vivo_ and _in vitro_ have to have some modern origin, but it still impresses me that a scientist has adapted Latin to the computer age.  I doubt the term originates in the paper I reference.  It strikes me as slang/jargon.  I just wouldn't expect Latin to go in that direction, at least not in a serious manner.  Any similar experiences?  (See for yourself: Zivanovic, Yvan, Philippe Lopez, Herve Philippe and Patrick Forterre. Pyrococcus genome comparison evidences chromosome shuffling-driven evolution. _Nucleic Acids Research_, 2002, Vol. 30, No. 9)

Anne Marie Hamilton
University of Georgia

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