HELSINKI: Sniffy classicists, who have always looked down at the European Union as a pale imitation of their beloved Roman Empire, will be delighted. Having pinched the Roman idea of a single currency, the EU has now decided to embrace Latin.
Finland, which is running the EU for the next six months, is to publish weekly news bulletins in Latin on an EU website. Leaders of the Unio Europaea, who have had a wretched year grappling with the Constitutio Europaea, will be reaching for their dictionaries at their next shindig in Bruxellae.
The EU’s notorious jargon turns into poetry when translated into Latin. The miserable Common Agricultural Policy becomes the majestic ratio communis agros colendi, which literally means “common scheme for cultivating the fields”.
Two Latin scholars, Tuomo Pekkanen and Reijo Pitkaranta, already have a cult following among classicists who tune in every Sunday to Nuntii Latini, a five-minute Latin news bulletin on YLE, Finland’s public broadcaster. “Latin is not dead - it is still very much in use in different forms across the world today,” Dr Pitkaranta said.
“Italians, French and Spaniards all speak a new form of Latin. I hope EU documents are soon translated into Latin which is such a clear language.”
Finland is the only country, along with the Vatican, to broadcast news in Latin. Dr Bruce Gibson, a classics scholar at Liverpool University, said: “Though their own language is not a descendant of Latin, perhaps the Finns realise Latin still provides a common linguistic and cultural heritage to Europe, and are doing everything to promote it during their presidency. Other European nations closer to home might want to take note.”