Latin is technically dead: no-one speaks it any more. But we would be so lost if we couldn’t use Latin’s littlies — those handy abbreviations that pepper our written and spoken communications, i.e. e.g., cf., P.S., n.b., etc. etc.
As seemingly benign as they are tiny, these shortcuts actually carry their own little interesting confusions and usage questions, which we don’t usually stop to think about. Since the abbreviations are there to save time and keystrokes, why waste any more time on them?
Let’s take Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which prompted a hugely important national debate that continues to this day: how should we abbreviate the word versus, and how do we pronounce it when we’re saying it aloud? Should it be written as Roe v. Wade, Roe vs. Wade, Roe v Wade, or Roe vs Wade? Or even, possibly, Roe versus Wade? And should it be said aloud as “Roe versus Wade” or “Roe vee Wade”? These are big questions… Continue reading