Sunday, March 11, 2007

Poblem Latin!

Location: Monument to the former Raffles Girls' School, Stamford Road, at Singapore Management University.

Now, now, I know - this isn't strictly Poblem Engrish. It's actually Poblem Latin, but hey, it's my blog and I teach Latin and Greek to pay the bills, so I'll put it here if I want to!

Note the motto, as the picture has it:


Note the inconsistency between use of 'AE' and the ligature 'Æ'. They should both be 'AE' or 'Æ', not a mix of the two. Now, a little bit of background. In Latin, the combination 'AE' may be written as 'AE', and likewise 'OE' may be written as 'Œ'. Both classical and present practice is to write the letters separately, but the ligatures were used in mediæval and early modern writings, in part because æ was reduced to a simple long vowel (IPA [eː]) in late Latin, and the same for œ.

Yet, what's really odd is the space between the 'Æ' ligature and the next two letters 'VI'. It looks as if the sign had 'AEVI' at first (the spacing looks right for that), and then afterwards, the 'AE' in 'AEVI' was replaced with 'Æ'. Whoever replaced 'AE' with 'Æ' was pedantic, but not pedantic enough to replace both.

Very, very odd.


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