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Copyright petition

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to create a new exception to copyright law that gives individuals the right to create a private copy of copyrighted materials for their own personal use, including back-ups, archiving and shifting format. (Via sil).

I’ve signed up too. If our computer crashes again we come a step close to losing access to songs we paid money for.

Salve munde

As a way of practising writing in Latin, I have started Aurentius Urus, a weblog written entirely in Latin, except for the bumf down the side and so on. If you really want to read a weblog in Latin with scintillating content, you are probably better off reading something like Mea Vita Fabulosa or Vir Cum Pluteo Pleno. I suspect they know more than two declensions and one and a half conjugations.

The main problem I foresee is writing about the modern world in an ancient language. Not having a Vatican Latin dictionary to hand, I will have to fall back on diligent research (e.g. this site suggests that ephemeris would be the Latin for weblog), sites like this list of computer terminology, and my own appalling sense of humour.

The site has been set up using WordPress so I only have to really think about the Latin rather than the Perl or MySQL and so I can have a go at a web-hosted weblogging system.

Bad language in WW1 Belgium

I’ve just finished reading Tommy: the British soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918 by Richard Holmes. The apt timing is more by luck than judgement. There is an excellent section in the book on language, including swearing, which includes the following wonderful quote (p. 491-492):

The parish priest of the Belgian village of Dickebush [not the funny bit] was frankly puzzled by it all. ‘I have looked it up phonetically in my little English dictionary (fahke),’ he wrote.

And I find, to my surprise, that the word ‘fake’ means ‘false, unreal, or not true to life’. Why the soldiers should refer to us in this way is difficult to understand, and yet everywhere one hears talk of ‘fake Belgium’ and ‘fake Belgians’.

Although this may be a puerile example, this is in fact a very good book which looks at every aspect of army life on the Western Front. It makes even uninspiring subjects such as the rear base areas interesting and explains how cavalry was still useful in 1918. This and the similar Redcoat are highly recommended. I look forward to reading the next one which he is apparently working on, Sahib about the Indian army.