Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Finland, we salute you

Finland's hitting the headlines (and you don't hear that often said). The BBC have just caught up with our European colleagues' penchant for the prisca lingua -- and aren't quite sure what to make of the Finnish rendition of Elvis. They also provide a link to the Latin newsletter of the Finnish EU presidency (very kind, thank you) but seem to have come to the conclusion that the Finns are somehow crackpots.

First of all, it must be said that their newsletter is hardly Ciceronian in its style -- it reflects instead the Vatican fashion for neologistic Latin. At the same time, their country's love affair with the language of consuls and emperors is, despite what the BBC seems to think, hardly the fad of a new millennium: they have been running a weekly news-bulletin in Latin since 1989. Good for them, if it wakes us out of our comfortable assumption that everyone else will speak English, if only they would try.

And, anyway, Britain itself isn't above a bit of dabbling in the old Latin lingo: it's from here that children's heroes, from Winnie Ille Pu to Henricus Potter, via Alicia in Terra Mirabili and Urus nomine Paddington, have been exported around the world. But, it must be admitted, we can't be held responsible for one of my bookmarked pages: the on-line encyclopaedia, Vicipaedia.

You wouldn't have expected me to let this opportunity pass to mention some hard-core Latin websites. The internet is wonderfully egalitarian in allowing even the languages of the dead to live on -- how liberal. All I need to add is: legite feliciter, eruditissimi lectores!

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