28 September 2007

Do other couples bicker about stuff like this?

I was telling David some interesting little anecdote about the Magna Carta the other evening and he was distracted from my amusing bon mot to dwell on the side issue of whether the great charter takes a "the." (For my opinion, see the first sentence of this post.)

So today he sent me a link to the entry in the wikipedia regarding spelling and usage:
Since there is no direct, consistent correlate of the English definite article in Latin, the usual academic convention is to refer to the document in English without the article as "Magna Carta" rather than "the Magna Carta". According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first written appearance of the term was in 1218: "Concesserimus libertates quasdam scriptas in Magna Carta nostra de libertatibus." (Latin: "We concede the certain liberties here written in our great charter of liberties.") However, "the Magna Carta" is also frequently used. In the past, the document has also been referred to as "Magna Charta".
Mind you, as a publicly editable site, the article on the Magna Carta on the wikipedia is uses both "Magna Carta" and "the Magna Carta," and the wikisource link in a sidebar uses "the Magna Carta."

Which is a pretty tiny thing to debate, except that it's completely typical of the stuff we go on and on about. Not sex or politics or religion or money or television, but this. I mean, really, is it just us?


Anonymous said...

Why, yes.


(How is it that you don't like excessive drink?)

Brett said...

Did you check to see if the quote from Wikipedia he pulled had been edited by DCBirdman?

Maureen said...

Discussing the finer details of language at exhaustive length? Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. We do it in my office on a regular basis; nuances of "reportedly" vs "allegedly", etymologies, etc.

Don't have these discussion w/ my husband, though; as a native of the Bronx, we joke that he's not a native speaker of English. :D