English uses phrases from many other roots than Latin, and sometimes these in turn are appropriated by the Italian language (warning: this practice is not for the French: they make sure they come up with their own words for everything). So, I had no problem throwing out, however, a phrase that I have known to live by: Caveat Emptor. It's a phrase that anyone who lives in Italy or purchases electronics on 42nd Street in NYC will come to know. Not putting it into practice comes with it's own risks for consumers.
But, I was stunned by the raised eyebrows and puzzled looks in the all-Italian room. They had never heard the expression before.
Really? And I have been using it for years...thinking everyone knew what I was on about. Instead, I chirped, "Well, it's Latin!". One of the Latin students in the room defiantly shook his head, "No. It's not."
|Vignette from my book, Burnt by the Tuscan Sun|
by Gianni Falcone, cartoonist - www.gianfalco.com
The Encyclopedia Brittanica calls it New Latin: the phrase originating in Anglo common law back in 1523. Slightly later than Cicero by my calculations.
And, it has to do with no warranties, which have since been put into place but in print so fine that they are worthless, or, with so many tricks "Send us the last four digits of the Pope's Social Security number combined with a boxtop from a box of Cheerios purchased in 1982."
Of course, when it comes to returns and exchanges (and I have a whole chapter in my book on this), we can always do it the Italian way: Just don't offer them. Keeps things fairly clear. Go with the personal relationship instead (basically, you'll get further if you frequent my business -- often)...
Come to think of it, it's no wonder that modern-day Italians never had heard of this most modern of Warning Labels. Forewarned is forearmed. Now there's an expression for you!