new life form for Latin?

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Fri May 10 20:31:00 UTC 2002

Well, there was a movie made a number of years ago called "The Life of
Christ"--entirely in Latin. Among the linguistic innovations was the use of
"Oedipus" as a vulgar epithet meaning, roughly, 'motherfucker'.

I assume that that is an innovation, anyway.

In a message dated 5/10/2002 2:41:18 PM, AHami93942 at AOL.COM writes:

<< 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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