If they’d write in decent Latin, things would be different!

The noted Latinist (and noted quirky personality) Fr. Reginald Foster, O.C.D., appeared in his regular feature on Vatican Radio (podcast link) Friday. Since Pope Benedict is making a state visit to Germany soon, the interviewer Sr. Veronica asked Fr. Foster to describe a famous battle between the Germans and the Roman Empire.
After describing the results of the battle (“the Germans beat the pants off of them”), he went on with some funny remarks about the expressiveness of Latin:

“You can say everything marvelously: except this kind of jargon, this philosophical jargon that’s going around, like how the politicians here in Italy talk, you know that kind of stuff — ugh, that’s terrible, I mean ‘la realizzazione della programma… da questo piano di lavoro’ – agh, shut up! …

“If the encyclicals were written in Latin, … you couldn’t do this, because Latin doesn’t allow you, y’know, just to blah blah blah, you just can’t blah in Latin, which is what they’re doing, you see, so they write it — and the worst is in, well, French, Italian, you see — and it just kind of dribbles on and on, and I’m supposed to put this dribble, dribble, and dribble into Latin! …

“They say this crummy thing in Italian, and I said, I can say this infinitely better in Latin, and people would agree! … At least your sentences are clear and concise, and solid as a rock, whereas these other people are dribbling, dribbling around, and blah blah blah blah — you don’t know what they’re talking about…. If they would write in decent Latin, things would be different, but they refuse!”

Here’s a clip with the interview.

They just don’t respect punctuation in England any more

The wimps at Oxford have made their Shorter English Dictionary slightly shorter by dropping most of the hyphens from compound nouns. I’d get all bent out of shape about it, but it’s not a surprise. The Brits have been minimizing their use of punctuation for years, dropping apostrophes from possessives and periods from abbreviations. Do they think they’re saving electrons?

Categorized as Language

Foster: no indult coming?

Reginald Foster, OCD, on the state of Latin in the church and in Europe:

He condemned the loss of Latin teaching in schools across most of Europe, and said that as a result students were missing out on important elements of history. “Like classical music, Latin will always be there. If we cannot understand it, it is we who are losing out.”
Italy is, however, different: all schoolchildren, except those who attend technical colleges, must be taught Latin for at least four hours a week until they are 18. But Fr Foster said the techniques used to teach Latin were outdated. “You need to present the language as a living thing,” he said. “You do not need to be mentally excellent to know Latin. Prostitutes, beggars and pimps in Rome spoke Latin, so there must be some hope for us.”

Incidentally, Fr. Foster thinks that Pope Benedict is not going to bring back the old form of Mass.

He said reports that Pope Benedict will reintroduce the Tridentine Mass, which dates from 1570 and is largely conducted in Latin, were wrong – not least because of the Pope’s desire to avoid more controversies. A speech last year offended Muslims and more recently he gave initial support to a Polish archbishop who was eventually forced to resign, after admitting that he had collaborated with the communist-era secret police.
“He is not going to do it,” Fr Foster said. “He had trouble with Regensberg, and then trouble in Warsaw, and if he does this, all hell will break loose.”

(And then he goes on to deliver a typically blunt opinion against the indult proposal. Well, we already knew he wasn’t exactly conservative.)

Categorized as Language

Belated: P. Suitbertus Siedl, OCD, requiescat in pace

I didn’t know until just now that Fr. Suitbertus Siedl, OCD, one of the Church’s great exponents of the Latin language, passed away last April. Fr. Siedl promoted the practice of Latin as a living spoken language through his annual Feriae Latinae (Latin Holidays), week-long full-immersion programs in Europe and the Americas. It’s good to see that the Feriae will continue this summer in France — the American branch met in Cuernavaca last summer too.
By the way, that Ephemeris (where the obit is) seems to be a nice little Latin web site based in Warsaw, with topical news stories; for example:

Barack Hussein Obama praesidentatum praetendit USAnum: Num Americani Septentrionales accepturi sint praesidentem atavis editum Afris nomenque parem Saddamo, cognomenque similem Ben Laden?
(“Barack Hussein Obama seeks the US presidency: will North Americans accept a president of African heritage bearing Saddam’s name and with a name similar to Bin Laden’s?”)

Categorized as Language