Oxford dons talk in latin?

Some phd from Oxford, or was it Cambridge?, said that official business at the university is conducted in Latin, including official paperwork (degrees, transcripts) and debates in the faculty senate. True?

Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities still use Latin for some official purposes, but it’s mostly ceremonial and all formulaic. For ceremonial occasions, there’s a script and if they need an actual Latin oration, such as when someone gets an honorary degree, they have an official Orator, i.e. some Classicist who can work up a suitable speech. Only the most formal documents are in Latin and any Latin used for other types of university business is little more than a bit of jargon. No one actually needs to understand any of it.

And it’s probably fair to say that it’s now got to the stage where most of the dons don’t.

I believe degree citations are still written in Latin (see the spoof citations for currently newsworthy figures that regularly appear in Private Eye magazine… TONIVS BLAIRII CANIS DOMESTICUM BUSHIUM AMERICANVS SINE OS DORSI, that sort of thing :slight_smile: ). But dons don’t stand around discussing Rag week in Latin, no.

I work at Cambridge and my guess is that 95% of the fellows (dons is not used here much) dont know latin (although may have done it in high school). If we need it for say grace or to be sworn in, it is given to us on a piece of paper. The problem for us ignoramuses is how to pronounce it “properly”. The trick is to say it as one might imagine the queen would be saying it. As I know a bit of italian and I assumed that latin and italian was related, the first comment after my first grace was that it sounded like the mafia was taking dinner.