This is getting a bit of coverage … the Guardian seems to have the version that’s most appropriate for us (but see also Harry Mount in the Telegraph … link below):
Alarmed by a decline in the use of Latin within the Catholic church, Pope Benedict is planning to set up a Vatican academy to breathe new life into the dead language.
Long used by the Vatican as its lingua franca, Latin is currently promoted by a small team within the office of the Holy See’s secretary of state, which runs a Latin poetry competition and puts out a magazine.
But Benedict – a staunch traditionalist – is backing a plan for a new academy which would team up with academics to better “promote the knowledge and speaking of Latin, particularly inside the church,” Vatican spokesman Fr Ciro Benedettini said on Friday.
The academy, added one Vatican official, would be “livelier and more open to scholars, seminars and new media” than the existing set-up.
As the study of Latin dwindles in schools, it is also on the wane in the church, where seminarians no longer carry out their studies in Latin and priests from around the world no longer use it to chat to each other. Until the 1960s Vatican documents were only published in Latin, which remained the language of the liturgy.
Today cash machines in the Vatican bank give instructions in Latin and the pope’s encyclicals are still translated into the language, but the new academy could provide much needed help to those charged with translating Latin words for 21st-century buzzwords such as delocalisation, which appeared in Benedict’s 2009 document on the economic crisis as delocalizatio.
That choice was criticised by Jesuit experts, reported Italy’s La Stampa newspaper.
“Some don’t like that kind of translation because it simply makes Italian and English words sound Latin, rather than being more creative with the language, although both ways are valid,” said father Roberto Spataro, a lecturer at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, who described the idea of the academy as “very opportune”.
Jesuit critics were more impressed with the more elaborate translation of liberalisation in the encyclical as plenior libertas and fanaticism as fanaticus furor.
Lost in translation?
Vatican officials tasked with finding Latin words for new English words call the internet inter rete and emails inscriptio cursus electronici. The 2003 Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis also offers the following translations:
Photocopy exemplar luce expressum
Basketball follis canistraque ludus
Bestseller liber maxime divenditus
Blue jeans bracae linteae caeruleae
Goal retis violation
Hot pants brevissimae bracae femineae
VAT fiscale pretii additamentum
Mountain bike birota montana
Parachute umbrella descensoria
- via: Pope Benedict to open new Latin academy in the Vatican (Guardian)
- Latin rebirth in schools (Telegraph)
- Mirabile dictu! The Pope saves Latin (Harry Mount in the Telegraph)
- Breathing Life Into a Dead Language (New York Times)
Of course, we should note that this has been a sort of constant thing for HH Benedict:
- Vatican Promotes Latin (May, 2008)
- The Pope’s On Our Side … March, 2011)
- Dial-a-Bishop for Latin Test Help? (December, 2011)