Latinate Word Origins and Problems Therefrom

As I have written a time or two before in my Observer blogs, I regard my one year of Latin studies in my small Kansas high school (thank you, Mrs. Hazlitt!) as the most valuable course I ever took.  I still have that book–somewhere.  Inside the cover is this legend, which I learned, I am sure, from an older and wiser classmate:

“Latin is a dead language, as dead as it can be.  First it killed the Romans, and now it’s killing me.”

Latin, many decades ago, was regarded as the first course of study in a sound curriculum, then followed by Greek. Thus, Ben Jonson, in his “To the Memory of My Beloved Master,  Mr. William Shakespeare, and What He Hath Left Us,” could write of that “Star of Poets,”  that “Sweet Swan of Avon,”  that he “had small Latin and less Greek.”

Even some small Latin, as I pointed out very recently in my posting dealing with Latin origins of common “Last Words,” can be useful.

It would perhaps have helped persons quoted, or reporters writing, or editors parsing, or nine readers reading, a couple of stories in very recent local newspaper issues.  I will give you the sentence I am questioning and am asking alert blog readers to discover what is likely wrong and what would be correct.

(1)  In Friday’s “Faith” section, a woman who is in charge of the annual living tableau of a “Stations of the Cross” service at Good Shepherd Catholic Church is quoted as having said, “‘This is a serious representation of Christ on the Via de Rosa, the Street of Sorrow,’  she added.”       ???

(2) In a story on Saturday about the installation of Fayetteville State University’s Chancellor Anderson, the reporter made reference to President Peter Donahue of Villanova University, who called the Chancellor his mentor:  “Anderson is an alumni and a trustee at the Philadelphia school.”          ???

Fustest with the mostest is the bestest.



6 Responses to “Latinate Word Origins and Problems Therefrom”

  1. Tammy Stephens Says:

    EGO sum non bonus per ullus lingua.

  2. Daryl Cobranchi Says:

    The first should be Via Dolorosa. Her translation leaves a bit to be desired, too. Via is usually translated “way.”

    The second is too easy. Anderson is an alumnus. Singular.

  3. pen Says:

    Is her latin wrong, or is her translation wrong? I must have missed that day in Catholic school. Via de Rosa is, I think, the Way of Blood? So is Via de Rosa the correct name? Do Protestants have the Stations of the Cross?

    Via in modern Latin (i.e. Italian) is “street”, no?

  4. Daryl Cobranchi Says:

    So is Via de Rosa the correct name?


  5. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Daryl Cobranchi gets the laurel wreath for his prompt and accurate comments on the errors made.

    Interested readers might want to note that “dolor,” “dolorous,” and “dolorously” are all derived from the same word in Latin and came into Middle English during the time of Chaucer, roughly. The relation to “Dolorosa” is then obvious.

    The “Stations of the Cross” as a theological interpretation also derives from the medieval period. There were 14 of these “Stations” in chronological sequence, the last five of which were placed in the “Church of the Holy Sepulcher.”

    Another Latinate name for the same chronology of events is “Via Crucis,” “the Way of the Cross.”

    This doctrine is now closely associated with the occurrences of “Good Friday.”


  6. Jeff Thompson Says:

    Anderson is an alumnus…singular. How ’bout we discuss pet peeves. Mine include the misuse of ‘take and bring.’ Take is rarely used anymore. Then, there’s ‘due to and because of.’ When was the last time you heard school is closed “because of” snow?

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