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Latin is dead—yet it also lives on


Cicero, the Roman statesman whose prose is thought to represent the peak of style in Latin, was also a bit of a snob about it. Few others, he complained in a tome written in 46bc, used the language properly any more. His gripes would be worse today. At a recent mass at the Vatican attended by your columnist, some of the Latin used by Pope Francis was impeccable. But much of it was downright dismal; it would have been incomprehensible to Cicero. Strangely, the pope’s remarks were translated into several other species of terrible Latin.

That is because the pope’s dismal Latin is also known as “Italian”. Francis’s native language, Spanish, is another kind of deformed Latin. The French in which his interpreter greeted some of the faithful is yet another variety.

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Courtesy: The Economist

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