The Enemy of Truth

Gaius Julius Caesar (100–44 BC)

Gaius Julius Caesar (100–44 BC)

fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.

–C. Iulius Caesar, De Bello Gallico, 3.18

Men are generally glad to believe what they want to be true.

–Julius Caesar, On the War in Gaul, Book 3, Chapter 18

———

The Latin expresses in seven words what English needs twelve words to say.

The reason for the Latin’s greater economy, or rather, for English’s inability to express the sentence literally, is because of poor usage becoming standard usage, which leads to a decrease in the signification of the individual words, as well as of the syntactical units, which then requires more words or syntactical units to express the same thought. In this case the debauched words in English are “want” and “what”.

By the way, this constant trend, in every language I’ve ever studied, of language becoming simpler, less expressive, over time, is the best proof of the Tower of Babel story—on its face one of the most incredible of the many stories of the book of Genesis that are hard to believe. But to me, nothing could be more scientific: I have never seen evidence, in studying eight languages over time, of a language becoming more complex with time.

So why are the oldest languages so complex to begin with? Might as well ask where the universe came from, I suppose.

Every time we use language, we make it either more or less powerful for the articulation of ideas. There is no innocent speech.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being a good steward.

Some Caesars are better than others…

Some Caesars are better than others…

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About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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