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October 5, 2007

Lingua Latina Vivit!

One might reasonably accuse Latin buffs of being a little odd, but those of us who started pursuing Latin in high school (and even before) got our revenge when it came time to take the SATs. About 60% of English words come either directly or indirectly from Latin.

Latin roots are also a terrific source of new product names, particularly for high-tech and scientific products like computers and pharmaceuticals.

vicipaedia.gifIt isn't just naming companies that like to adapt Latin for modern usage, either. First it was singing "Iucundus tibi" to our Latin teacher on her birthday. Then it was books like Latin for All Occasions and X-treme Latin: All the Latin You Need to Know for Survival in 21st Century. Now it's Vicipaedia, the Latin version of the popular open-source online encyclopedia.

"Encyclopedia" is itself a Greek word, which makes "Vicipaedia" somewhat less than proper Latin even if you leave out the fact that "wiki" (a Hawaiian word meaning fast) and Latin "vici" (which means "I have conquered") have completely separate meanings. Paideia, for those who are wondering, is Greek for "education," from the word pais, meaning "child."

Naturally, it can be a challenge adapting Latin to modern terminology, but because Latin is full of prefixes, suffixes, prepositions, and assorted root meanings, a little creativity is all you need. After all, look at how many of our modern items already have names deriving from Greek or Latin, like "submarine," "automobile," "motorcycle," and "video."

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Posted by Diane Prange at October 5, 2007 8:07 AM
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