Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Part of the series on
Logic and rhetoric
Icon logic.svg
Key articles
General logic
Bad logic

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 pseudo-profundity remains very popular with doctors, snobs, etc.

The use of the Bible texts provides the classic case of Latinate mystification in history. From the early Middle Ages onward, the Western ChurchWikipedia's W.svg deliberately used JeromeWikipedia's W.svg's translation of the Bible into classical Latin, a language which became less and less comprehensible to the uneducated masses as classical Latin gave way to medieval vulgar LatinWikipedia's W.svg and later evolvedWikipedia's W.svg into the separate Romance languagesWikipedia's W.svg. Using hi-falutin mumbo-jumboWikipedia's W.svg magick enabled the Western European clergy to conveniently "interpret" the Bible to mean whatever they wanted and increased the power of the priest-caste relative to the importance of the Word.

Until the adoption of the printing press in the 15th century, almost all books in Europe were produced in Latin (or in ancient Greek) because all educated people learned classical Latin and it thus functioned as a "universal" language for the "in" crowd.

In other languages[edit]

In English, which nowadays is ~30% Latin in vocabulary 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.

See also[edit]

Similar things[edit]

  • 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.)

External links[edit]