Classics scholars have accused councils of 'ethnic cleansing' after they banned staff from using Latin words.Cum Lingua Latina proscripta erit tum soli proscript Latinam loquentur.
The local authorities claim the terms are elitist and discriminatory, and have ordered employees to use often-wordier alternatives in documents or when speaking to the public.
Bournemouth Council, which has the Latin motto Pulchritudo et Salubritas - beauty and health - has listed 19 terms it no longer considers acceptable for use. They include ad hoc, bona fide, status quo, vice versa and even via.
Its list of alternatives includes 'for this special purpose', in place of ad hoc and 'existing condition' or 'state of things', instead of status quo.
Mary Beard, a Cambridge professor of classics, said: 'This is absolutely bonkers and the linguistic equivalent of ethnic cleansing. 'English is and always has been a language full of foreign words. It has never been an ethnically pure language.'
Dr Peter Jones, co-founder of the charity Friends of Classics, said: 'This sort of thing sends out the message that language is about nothing more than the communication of very basic information in the manner of a railway timetable. But it is about much more than that. The great strength of English is that it has a massive infusion of Latin.
'We have a very rich lexicon with almost two sets of words for everything. To try to wipe out the richness does a great disservice to the language. It demeans it. I am all for immigrants raising their sights not lowering them. Plain English and Latin phrasing are not diametrically opposed concepts.'
Harry Mount, author of the best-selling book Amo, Amos, Amat and All That, a light-hearted guide to the language, said, 'Latin words and phrases can often sum up thoughts and ideas more often than the alternatives which are put forward.
'They are tremendously useful, quicker and nicer sounding. They are also English words. You will find etc or et cetera in an English dictionary.'
However, the Plain English Campaign congratulated the councils for introducing the bans. Marie Clair, its spokesman, said, 'If you look at the diversity of all our communities you have got people for whom English is a second language. They might mistake eg for egg and little things like that can confuse people. At the same time it is important to remember that the national literacy level is about 12 years old and the vast majority of people hardly ever use these terms. It is far better to use words people understand.'
Of other local authorities to prohibit the use of Latin, Salisbury has asked staff to avoid the phrases ad hoc, ergo and QED (quod erat demonstrandum), while Fife has banned ad hoc as well as ex officio.
When Latin is outlawed, only outlaws will speak Latin.