Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur

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Logic and rhetoric

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Anything said in Latin sounds profound. In other words, if it's incomprehensible and unexplained, don't take it at face value.

Nonetheless, abusing Latin for this purpose is very popular with doctors, snobs, etc.
Its largest use in history though, was undoubtedly the Bible. The Bible was deliberately kept in classical Latin, a language which was becoming less and less comprehensible to the uneducated masses as classical Latin gave rise to vulgar Latin and later the Romance languages. This enabled the clergy to conveniently "interpret" the Bible to mean whatever they wanted. Up until the invention of the printing press, almost all books in Europe were written in Latin (or ancient Greek) because all educated people learned classical Latin and it was thus a universal language.


[edit] In other languages

In English, which nowadays is ~30% Latin already, this is somewhat justifiable, as it lacks the feature of word compounding. Although it is the result of abusing Latin like this for centuries.

But the situation is worse in other languages that are not based on Latin nor English, and have no need for foreign words either. In such languages, notably German, the usage of Latin (and in the past also English) can be almost exclusively attributed to this kind of abuse.

[edit] See also

[edit] Similar things

  • Inkhorn terms – For anything said in any foreign languages. Popular with writers.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness — Ditto, but focusing on the length of the words.
  • Chinese character tattoos. (And English word tattoos in China.)

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