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3 November, 2008


I had mixed feelings about the reported ban on the use of Latin phrases by local Councils.

When used to obfuscate or to inflate an impression of authority, perhaps artificial usage of 'impressive' terms should be avoided, but the examples in the BBC article are already as thoroughly embedded in standard English usage as loan words from Norse or Norman French – they seem entirely reasonable. There is an extent to which a listener has to take responsibility for comprehension, and language can't be dumbed-down to the level of the pathologically ignorant. If, as the Plain English Campaign claim (in praising the ban), certain people genuinely confuse the Latin abbreviation 'e.g.' with the word 'egg', they have greater problems than communicating with Council staff with 'crystal-clarity'.

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