The World According to Stercus Accidit

One of my friends keeps a blog entitled 'the world according to stercus accidit'. I won't put up the link just yet until he says okay. It took me quite a while but the other night I was wondering to myself what 'stercus accidit' was. You see, I took up Latin as a supplementary subsidiary subject when I did my Law and Economics degree. When you study law, knowing Latin is quite useful as many Latin phrases abound in law.

For instance, 'ignorantia legatia non exusat' which literally means ignorance of the law is no excuse. In criminal law, we had 'mens rea' (literally guilty minds) and 'actus reus' (literally guilty act). So for a crime to have taken place, the two must exist - mens rea and actus reus. There was a famous saying by a 16th century judge, Sir Edward Coke who said 'actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea' which means "an act does not make a person guilty unless (their) mind is also guilty"; hence, both actus reus and mens rea must exist. This is why insanity etc is a defence because by being insane, you do not have mens rea, no guilty mind.

Since I have already fulfilled the subsidiary requirements, I took up Latin more as a fun thing during my university days. I learnt more than I wanted to know. My tutor at that time was a blind man. So a group of us would wait in his office somewhere in the basement of Keele Hall until he comes. He would ask someone to switch on the light but he does not the need light himself. I got a grand total of 14 marks for my exam and he asked me to take a re-sit. I did but I should have studied a bit which I didn't. The re-sit exam was easy had I been a Bible reader which obviously I am not. The first question was a translation of the beginning of the bible which says something along the line of 'let there be light' etc. If I had been able to quote the whole paragraph even without knowing Latin, I would have passed. Anyway, despite that, I double my marks to 28 but still failed miserably.

One of my alma mater, Harvard University has 'Veritas' as its motto which means 'truth'. What many people did not know is that the early motto was longer. Harvard was founded in 1638 but its origin was to train puritan ministers. So many of its early graduates became clergymen in puritan churches. The early motto was actually 'Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae" which means "Truth for Christ and the Church." But today only 'veritas' remains which means 'truth'.

Anyway, knowing a bit of Latin helps as many words in English was originally Latin and it becomes quite easy even with difficult words, I would know instinctively what it is just by knowing what the 'root' word was. And knowing Latin can help you with many things like curse in Latin and nobody would know it other than Latin speakers. And this is what my friend did.

So back to my friend's blog. What does 'stercus accidit' means? Hahaha, it means .... .... .... .... drum roll .... .... .... .... believe it or not - 'shit happens'. 'Stercus' is the Latin word for dung or feces or shit if you want to be vulgar. 'Accidit' means 'fall on' or 'befall, happened'. So add the two, it becomes 'shit happens'. Kas, after all this while, I just realised what an interesting name your website is!

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