Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Latin Lovers? Hardly

Let's just say we have a bit of a chip on our shoulder when it comes to Latin. We never studied it (we went straight to the vastly superior Greek). Perhaps that's why we avoid Latin in our language whenever possible.

Nonetheless, our undergarments do get in a twist when we encounter incorrect Latin. The following comes from the transcript of a Jane Magazine chat with "Running with Scissors" author Augusten Burroughs. (Great book, by the way.)
I don't have a formal writing schedule, per say. But I'm usually at my desk in my office by 8:30 each morning. And the first thing I do is email with my Posse. Sometimes, something I'll write in an email will strike me as subject matter for an essay, so I'll save that email in a special folder. But this email back-and-forth with my friends might go on for an hour or two, then the workday stuff starts coming in. This might be interview requests from abroad, a Q&A for a booksellers website, something having to do with the RWS movie. The day is filled with tasks that have little to do with actual writing.

We'd rather run with scissors than spell per se incorrectly. Likewise, these oft-bungled Latinisms:
  • Penultimate: This is not a fancy way of saying last. It means second-to-last, and those who get it wrong sound foolish.
  • i.e. vs. e.g.: Use e.g. when something is followed by an example. Use i.e. when you're explaining something. To remember them, we pretend i.e. literally stands for "in essence," and e.g. for "example given."
  • etc.: stands for et cetera. This word does not have an "x" in it, nor should it be pronounced as though it does.

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