Friday, December 17, 2010

It Runs in the Family

On the anniversary of my father's death, I headed down to the ancestral estate of my paternal relatives in the Bronx, and my aunt (the reigning matriarch of the family) and I went out to dinner. We spent the night recounting family history, and I was reminded of an inter-office memo my father had written while he was serving in the U.S. Army.

Dad went to college and law school under a full R.O.T.C. scholarship- he started off his army career in the military police because he was a large individual, but was transferred pretty quickly to the J.A.G. corps because of his legal background. While serving in the J.A.G. corps in Fort Gordon, a superior officer wrote a memo in which he (inexplicably to me) used stati a plural form for the word status. My father, no doubt appalled by the use of a plural for "status", wrote a letter explaining that, having a fourth declension noun as a root, the proper Latinized plural of the English word status would be status, not the second declension-ish stati. He wrote this letter entirely in Latin (I believe my mother still has a copy of it somewhere). It just goes to show that smartassed erudition, or erudite smartassery, is a characteristic family trait.


Hamish Mack said...

That's brilliant

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


I took four years of Latin in High School, but it didn't take much more than a year for me to forget all but random snippets of it.

Vonnie said...

Great post. And, can I borrow "smartassery"?