Out of Many One

On the “Friends Finds” page, Baiba passes on a piece from the Lawrence Journal World about a town in England wanting to eliminate Latin phrases, for example e.g., ad hoc, etc. and the other ones.

I did notice that President-Elect Obama substituted a translation of e pluribus unum in his speech.

I wonder if we should replace the Latin-derrived “senator” with “old guy”?

I don’t mind simplifying legal jargon, but I say, let’s keep the language alive by teaching Latin poetry in school.

(For a list of latin sayings try this site.)

Sunt lacrimae rerum.

Who Says Latin is a Dead Language?

Latin is not dead in Kentucky.  Milena Minkova and others are keeping it alive at UK.  Bryn Mawr reviews notes two textbooks on Latin Prose Composition, one co-authored by Minkover, and another her own work.  (here and here)

I remember speaking with two older farmers in Kansas about studying Latin in school back in the day.  One told me, “I never had any trouble with English after I took Latin.”  The other one said, “It was tough at first, but the fourth year it all came together when we read Caesar.”

Sonja and I were in Kentucky recently and we picked up an old Latin grammar along with an elementary English reader at a flee market.  We talked about the high standards that once were the rule in public schools.

For two or three decades now Marion Polsky has been teaching Latin to inner city kids.  She finds it is an equalizer–no one has an advantage because their parents speak it at home.  She uses creative methods, including having the kids dress up in togas.

In the 1970s and ’80s, the U.S. government funded Latin classes in underperforming urban school districts. The results were dramatic. Children who were given a full year of Latin performed five months to a year ahead of control groups in reading comprehension and vocabulary. The Latin students also showed outsize gains in math, history and geography. But Congress cut the funding, and nearly all the districts discontinued Latin.

More recently though, some schools are giving it a second chance.  (More here and here)

Vivat sermo Ciceronis!

F. F. Bruce

FFBruceMap NE Scotland
F.F.Bruce

I am about 17 miles from Elgin (hard ‘g’ as in again), the hometown of the world famous biblical scholar F. F. Bruce.

I am tempted to write an epic poem about “Frederick the Bruce.”

If my grasp of Gaelic and Doric advances at a miraculous pace, and if the Muse of history visits me–I just might do it.

I might tell how Frederick the Bruce as a young loon, after gaining his footing in auld Aberdeen, ventured south among the treacherous English, and took degrees from Cambridge; thence to Vienna, and on Leeds where he relieved many an oor of wartime tedium commentatin on the Wondrous Acts of the Auld Apostles; how he met the Tübingen critics, the McBaur clan, on their own turf, wresting the Scriptures from the academics and returning it once more to the kirk; how he returned to his own land, crossing the Firth of Forth (an ay, the Firth of Fyvie) to pass his mantle to young Howard the Marshal, to whom young William the Baker, sailing the rough Atlantic, came seeking Aberdonian wisdom, and returned to the barbarous land of the North Americans, where he has gainit glory for himsel.

But while I wait for my muse to appear, I will have to trim my sails and speak plain prose.

F. F. Bruce was respected among historians, classicists, and biblical scholars of all stripes; but it is in particular the tribe of evangelicals, British and North American especially, who are most greatly indebted to him. He showed that faith and scholarship are not mutually exclusive. He showed that a believing Christian could undertake a historical interpretation of the Bible.

He began his academic career as a teacher of classical Greek, and received his first university appointment as a professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis after completing his commentary on the Greek text of Acts.

The Buckie library is just across the street from my back door. The librarians treated me with great kindness and extended a library membership to me, complete with a card and a permit to use their computers. I found on their shelves an autobiography of one of Morayshire’s favorite sons, from which I will be quoting or reporting in days to come.

The thing that impressed me most about professor Bruce was his broad and gracious spirit. His example of taking his graduate degree (an M.A. from Cambridge) in classics influenced me to follow in that path. I didn’t make it to Cambridge, but the training I received in classics at the University of Kansas has given me a good foundation for the study of the Bible, as well as introducing me to a world that is fascinating in its own right.