UK: more on British bans on Latin

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Nov 18 18:36:01 UTC 2008

 British City Councils Ban Latin Phrases From English
in November 17th, 2008
by Glenn Church <> in Great

The protectors of the English language are at it again in Britain.

*Several city councils in Britain have banned the use of Latin words in
official business.*<>Advocates
of the change say the Latin words are no longer understood, but
others call the change ridiculous.

Critics point out that English is a hybrid language that derived many of its
roots from Latin. Besides, many of the words the councils suggest banning
are in wide use.

Bournemouth's "plain language" policy puts 19 Latin words on the banned
list. Latin phrases like "ad hoc" and "bona fide" are replaced by
"improvised" and "genuine."

Salisbury has removed "in lieu" and "fait accompli" from its list of
acceptable words.

The Plain English Campaign seeks to make public documents easier to
understand without regard to someone's level of education. Included in the
list of words banned are "ad lib", "etc.", and "e.g.".

*"If you look at the diversity of all our communities you have got people
for whom English is a second language," Mary Claire of Plain English said.
"They might mistake eg for egg and little things like that can confuse

The critics say removing "status quo" and replacing it with "existing
condition" or "vice versa" with "the other way around" is not easier to
understand. Some phrases like changing "ad lib" to "shortened to fill up
time" do not have an easy equivalent in English.

Not all councils are taking up the change.

"I would have thought banning phrases which have been part of the texture of
our language for centuries is frankly the least of a town hall's problems
when it comes to communicating with the public," said Paul Osborn of
London's Harrow Council.

"This is absolutely bonkers and the linguistic equivalent of ethnic
cleansing," stated Campbridge professor Mary Beard.


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