Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 105

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the current health crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored….

Dog Latin

There’s some imagery than readers of the dictionary can probably picture here after seeing the definition, which is “barbarous Latin, such as was formerly used by the lawyers in their pleadings”. Other dictionaries also mention that this was a similar issue with some vicars in the church during their sermons mauling Latin about.

But the legal element here continues, with what is now called Law Latin. This is where significant parts of the British law and legal opinions were written in a Latin which was partly made-up by trying to translate English back into Latin. This led to a situation where for a period in the medieval period there were court cases using French (and tens of legal words used in British courts still today have French origins), English and Latin, so it’s not entirely surprising that the results were a little mixed.