TODAY'S ENGLISH IS TOMORROW'S LATIN | 2004-04-03
My nephew has just started medical school in Moscow. He was the only American in the class, not a new experience for a member of our family.
Other students asked him why American medical terms are in Latin. In Western Europe, prescriptions are still written in Latin. But the other students, most of whom are from the third world, said they did all their medical writing in English.
In the West, the traditional scholarly language was Latin. But Roman scholars did not write in Latin. The Roman upper class used Greek. The expression, "He has no Greek" is from old Rome, indicating a person of lower rank.
We look back to Rome. Rome looked back to Greece. The new world looks to America. An upper class Russian or Malaysian speaks English.
One instructor asked the students in my nephew's class to introduce themselves and say where they were from. When my nephew said he was from the United States, she said, "We are honored." If a student at a German university in 1200 AD had said he was from Rome, the instructor might have said, "We are honored."
The Roman Empire has been gone from Western Europe for over 1500 years, but prescriptions are still written in the Roman vernacular (not in Greek). That is because in the end Rome was not known for being loved, but for accomplishing mighty deeds.
No one will ever have that kind of respect for post-World War II Europe. Europe knows that and hates us for it. All of Europe's miserable little welfare politicians will be forgotten before they are buried. They do nothing anybody cares about.
No one is more critical of the misuse of American power than I am. But Old Europe makes me sick. Like most serious inferiority complexes, the European one is in a guise of feeling superior.
Nobody is fooled. These are little people doing little things who hate a giant for being a giant. It is accidental when I happen to agree with them, and they make me sick.
Right or wrong, we are the new Rome. We made the modern world.