Monday, March 24, 2008

Ah, the pity of it

I mourn the passing of a classical education: when people learned the Iliad, say, in ancient Greek. And Latin's perfectly feasible, even (perhaps especially) for a child.

Just as we no longer embellish our public buildings, our culture is thinner for abandoning its linguistic roots. Latin and Greek aren't cost-effective, so we teach self-esteem instead. Trolling music radio the other day I came upon the Reproaches, that beautiful segment of the Good Friday liturgy; it was a modern composition, in English, and hauntingly sung by a well-trained choir from St. John's church in Ellora. The poetry of the invocations in Greek is like a love song: "Hagiou Theou, Hagios ischyros, Hagios athanatos, eleison imas"...All that remains is a vestige, an English translation that ends the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

And now we have mangled plurals. The other day I heard "criterias". That's a first.
People: it's "criterion" singular, "criteria" plural. And "bacterium" and "bacteria", "medium" and "media".

But the plural of "Kleenex" ought by rights to be "Kleenices". And is the singular of "cafeteria", "cafeterium"?

All we have now is "like" and "go".

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