DV & WP, and willy nilly

Further to the last blog, Amanda Laugesen sends in this excerpt from a humorous letter published in an Australian newspaper in 1918:

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Typical Australian linguistic inventiveness produced this the year after the Armistice, from the Casino and Kyogle Courier and North Coast Advertiser, 17 May 1919:

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‘Deo volente’ appears from time to time in war memoirs – this is from Some War Impressions by Jeffery Farnol (1918):

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Farnol went on to become a prolific novelist, with his own turn of language, giving rise to A glossary of Farnolese : defining archaic, cant, colloquial, slang, Gypsy/Romany, Scottish/Gaelic, unusual and vernacular words used by Jeffery Farnol in his novels and short stories, compiled by William E. Forland and published in 2009.

Searches for ‘D V and WP’ under various disguises have brought nothing, but there is another Latin phrase, now more or less disappeared, which does occasionally come up – nolens volens.

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Lofty, and worthy, sentiments from William Ewing, Chaplain to the Forces, in From Gallipoli to Baghdad (1917). ‘Nolens volens’ means ‘whether you deny it or no’; actually it is usually translated backwards as ‘whether a person wants or likes something or not’ (otherwise ‘will ye or nill ye’, which became ‘willy-nilly’, now sadly changing its meaning to ‘confusedly’, not altogether unaptly). ‘Drouthy’ by the way is a Scots dialect word for ‘thirsty’, connected to ‘drought’.

Are there any other Latin tags that were in use in the war that have fallen out of use? Here is a notable use of ‘A fortiori’, used to mean ‘even more so’, in Elmer Southard’s extensive study of the medical literature on shell-shock, Shell-shock and Other Neuropsychiatric Problems, presented in five hundred and eighty-nine case histories (1919).

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Not at all out of use, but rare to see on a postcard, is the rather fatalistic dum spiro spero (while I breathe I hope) on a postcard from 1915.

Dum Spiro b

Dum Spiro a


The only possible Ed Rump recorded in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records is Private Edward Rump, of the East Kent Regiment, died aged 20 on 28 October 1918, tragically close to the Armistice; the combination of an education level including knowledge of Latin and a marriage age of 17 would be unlikely at this time, so this Ed Rump may indeed have survived to be with his Seaside Rose again.







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