THIS topic may seem eccentric to some readers while others may cogitate that the scribe is constructing an elephant out of a trivial matter.
However, for experts in classical languages and people keen in doing things meticulously, this may not be so.
Curious people who have scrutinised the logo of the people’s party led by Enga governor Peter Ipatas will understand what I am hinting at.
The motto of the party is written in four different languages.
The English version of the people’s party motto reads: “In the name of God and people”.
Similar messages are found in Tok Pisin and Motu.
Why did the party leadership thought it necessary to include an inscription in Latin, the classical language of literature?
Many Christian schools and church organisations do have Latin inscriptions to express their values and beliefs.
Perhaps the People’s Party want to appear more prestigious as Latin was the language of prestige and of historical significance.
There was a time when Latin was the official communicative medium, both spoken and written, in the Roman empire.
After the disintegration of the powerful empire by the successive barbaric invasions from the north, Latin survived as the only official language of Christianity.
The vulgate – the Latin version of the Bible translated by Jerome – helped the survival of Latin up until the reformation in the 16th century, and in the Roman Catholic liturgies up until 1965.
Although Latin is no longer a spoken or communicative language, some people have formed clubs in Italy and gather to speak Latin with each
other to keep it from dwindling as a spoken language.
Today, Latin is only confined to literature, except for some legal, medical and theological phrases.
The inscription found on the logo of People’s Party reads something like “In nomine Deus et Demos” which is a mix of two classical languages – Latin and Greek.
The word “demos” is not Latin but Greek which means “people”.
Greek was another classical language of literature belonging to the Indo-Europeans language group and has its own phonetical transcription (alphabet system).
Latin has a different word for people.
Second, the construction of the Latin syntax (grammar) is misleading.
To correctly rephrase what the party wants to say – “In the name of God and of the People” – the correct phrase would be “In nomine Dei et populi”.
“Dei” in Latin means “of the God” and “populi” means “of the people”.
“In nomine Deus” is grammatically incorrect in Latin. In English, it would translate to “In the name the God”.
In some foreign languages, few prepositions such as the dative and possessive forms do not have words of their own. To substitute for that, the noun ending change.
For instance, the word “Deus” in Latin would have endings such as “Deo” (dative), “Dei” (possessive) “Deum” (accusative), etc.
If Peter Ipatas has the courtesy to knock on the doors of any old European priests, the party would become a laughing stock.
These old priests did their theological studies in the Latin language.
There is also an institution in Eastern Highlands dedicated to studying native language, Summer Institute of Linguistics.
I believe in that institution, there will be people there to help because some would be well-versed in the koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament.
The people there may also be knowledgeable in the vulgate Latin.
The fact that the People’s Party felt it unnecessary to seek expert advice perhaps reflects its arrogance.
If the party does not consult in small things, will it consult others on major policy issues?
The other factor is the PNG mentality of mekim nating (slipshod).
The sloppy behaviour is common and can be found in political, economic and administrative governance of the country.
There will be people in the world wanting to see if the logo of People’s Party is raised to the heights.
What will the international community say about the grammar blunder of the Latin found on the logo?
My little contribution to the People’s Party is to advise them to rewrite the motto correctly in Latin by changing “In nominee Deus et Demos” to “In nominee Dei et populi”.