A little more on the Bournemouth decree

Associated Press has added a little to the Telegraph report on banning Latin-derived English like, for example, ‘e.g.’ By the way, did you notice the latest stupidity from Oxford council? Christmas is banned from council celebrations. The leader of Oxford Muslims has protested, saying that Muslims as well as Christians look forward to Christmas. O.K., not Classical, but makes me wring my hands in despair.

No one from the Bournemouth council was willing to speak to The Associated Press on Monday, but a spokeswoman said the language guidelines have been in effect for two years without attracting notice.

Despite the policy, the town retains a Latin motto on its crest: “Pulchritudo et salubritas” — beauty and health.

Linguistic controversies are nothing new in Britain, cradle of the English language, where people have strong opinions on what constitutes proper usage.

In recent years officials have moved to avoid language that gives offense to ethnic minorities, disabled people and other groups.

Predictably, some feel the drive has gone too far. Many were bemused earlier this year when it was reported that a town council had banned the word “brainstorm” because it might offend people with epilepsy, a condition that involves periodic electrical storms inside the brain. Tunbridge Wells council advised using “thought showers” instead.

London’s Harrow Council says banning Latin is a step too far.

“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, the council’s head of communications.

See also Mary Beard on the subject.

A sudden thought: What happens to that couplet answering ‘God said “Let Newton be”, and all was light’?

It could not last. The devil, shouting ‘Ho!
Let Einstein be’ restored the … existing condition, state of things.

Anyway, status quo doesn’t mean ‘existing condition’. It means the condition before changes were made.

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