Tuesday, 17 July 2007

a fortiori

Occasionally I come across a word or phrase that grabs my attention and just doesn't let go!

"a fortiori" is one such phrase; I saw it some months ago and looked it up and puzzled over it. It popped up again today for some reason, so I had to remind myself of what it meant. (this is where google really comes in handy!!)

What it means is with even stronger reason or to put it more clearly even more so. But even though I could look up the phrase and it's meaning, I had to dig a little deeper to discover how it would actually be used in a sentence, and there are several examples of those on the internet.

Being a librarian though and very aware of copyright and intellectual property, I wont steal one of those examples to show you how it works, so I have to make one of my own!! Here goes.....Ben is too young to be Prime Minister, therefore, a fortiori, Matt is certainly too young. (with apologies to Ben and Matt of course! ;-) )

Unfortunately, it is just not a term that I am ever going to be able to use in general conversation, even if I could remember what it means a few months down the line!!

Pronunciation is also going to be a funny one (particularly in my case, as I am sure that many of you will agree!!). Some say it is pronounced "ah-for-tee-oh-ri", others say "a-for-she-or-e". I am not sure which one I like most, but you can be sure that I'd probably get it wrong!

Anyway, despite the many latin terms we do manage to use on a regular basis, this is not one that I can see becoming mainstream!! Can anyone think of how we may use this one in regular conversation without sounding snooty!! ;-)


matthew said...

Surely that is not acurate? From your description of the meaning, I would have thought a better example would be

"Ben is too young to be Prime Minister, therefore, a fortiori, Matt can not be Prime Minister."

because your use of the word 'certainly' seems to make 'a fortiori' a little redundant.

Sam said...

I see what you mean, and as I am thinking about it, I wonder if "therefore" is also a bit redundant!

You see why this word has me in it's grips!!!