Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mirabile dictu...

It appears that Senator Obama's ghastly seal has seen its last day.

While the slightly grating, paranoid ramblings of some of the commentators don't seem quite justified, I really do want to know who convinced the campaign managers and handlers that Latin is cool. Latin is, in fact, pretty neat, but so, then, is abstract algebra and the theory of numbers. That does not, though, make it "cool" by any stretch of the imagination.

No, Latin and math literacy are not as cool as "change" and "hope," or whatever other abstract nouns the marketing gurus and speechwriters think will sell with the slacker crowd or the painfully earnest meritocrats covering college campuses in flyers.

Senator Obama's key demographic, last time I checked, is not known for a love of litterae humaniores. Neither, for that matter, is the demographic to which Senator McCain appeals, but you don't see the senator from Arizona putting Latin on a campaign logo. I am reminded of an Onion article of particular piquancy vis-à-vis this issue.

There's a lesson here: Never, ever trust public figures on matters of Latin syntax and style. Consult your neighborhood philologist or buy a good grammar.