ramen and pickles

science, technology, and medicine served up with some tasty noodles

Latin to sound fancy

I took some Latin in high school and even won a prize for some translation, so I appreciate it when someone validates that time spent by highlighting the importance of knowing a little Latin, so I liked this blog post:  Latin Words and Phrases Every Man Should Know.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of things on there I didn’t know.   So I will have to group myself with Shakespeare whom was eulogized by Ben Jonson:  “thou hadst small Latin and less Greek,” so that’s not bad company to be in.  Peppering everyday conversation with these phrases seems like a surefire way of making people think you are a pompous ass (nolo contendere).

Knowing some Latin (and a little Greek) does occasionally come in handy in medicine, but not very much really, and sometimes it’s not that informative.  For example, one of the anatomical terms used frequently is foramen ovale, which means “oval hole.”  It can refer to a hole in the septum of the heart or a hole in the skull that some important nerves and blood vessels travel through.  The point is that “oval hole” isn’t really that special of a term; it just sounds a lot nicer in Latin than in English I guess and because it’s in Latin we can know that it refers to that particular anatomical opening and not any old random oval hole I suppose.

In another post, I should do equal coverage and make fun of uses of Greek, particularly idiopathic and iatrogenic.   They are nice uses of fancy sounding words to give an air of competency, when usually quite the opposite is the case.


One response to “Latin to sound fancy

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