A New People Come

Charles Thomson Great Seal report page2

Charles Thomson Great Seal report page2

The Date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence, and the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Æra which commences from that Date, concludes Charles Thomson about his accepted design of the Great Seal. 

Man in U.S. Marine Corps Uniform Saluting American Flag --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Man in U.S. Marine Corps Uniform Saluting American Flag — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis



Wikipedia relates the Great Seal motto, NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, to Virgil’s Eclogues and ancient pagan ritualists, Sibyls.


Arguably, the picture on the left does not suggest aprons or paganism. The Great Seal belongs with American powers to involve the executive. Charles Thomson was a Presbyterian. He — same as many people, me included — would not have a Sibyl for an elder, authority, or factor of strength. The rituals involved narcotics and burnt offerings.


Wikipedia quotes Virgil’s Eclogue and says, The phrase is sometimes mistranslated as New World Order by people who believe in a conspiracy behind the design; however, it does directly translate to “New Order of the Ages”.

Novus ordo seclorum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 2013-05-22 07-15-31

Novus ordo seclorum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo



A “New Order of the Ages” can cause doubt. Hardly anybody believes in a time without a place on this planet. You couldn’t have Romanticism before Enlightenment, and Renaissance only after. Charles Thomson was a sound expert at Latin and Greek. His spelling did acknowledge the digraph “æ”. We can see it in the report.

… the new American Æra

(Charles Thomson’s report, above)

The word  seclorum   in his design does not have the digraph.


I abandon the Eclogues. The Latin form seclum was earlier than saeclum and seculum. Old Latin e happened to assume ae in the Classic period, and later became e, often in words of shifted semantic reference. For example, nowadays we could say that secular people are those who are not members of monastic orders.


I compare Cicero and the Philippics:

Accuse the senate; accuse the equestrian body, which at that time was united with the senate; accuse every order or society, and all the citizens; (…) at all events you would never have continued in this order, or rather in this city; (…) when I have been pronounced by this order to be the savior of my country; (…) when you, one single young man, forbade the whole order to pass decrees concerning the safety of the republic (…)


Then, I think why we people say “good morning”. It could not be for that Whig journal to come with the Oxford Companion, in my case. I have never read it. I just looked up the phrase over the Internet. ;)


I mean, when we speak, we do not take our words from books. Latin might have been a dead language, but Charles Thomson was alive when he used it. He formed the motto. The report gives a rendition of the meaning. It does not translate the motto.


… the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Æra …

(Charles Thomson)



Resources differ in presenting the Latin language. We may compare The Rudiments of Latin and English Grammar by Alexander Adam, of about 1786. On page 141, he presents seclor as a consequent of sequor.


I compare the contemporary seclude. We can translate secludere as to stand apart, and seclusus as separate. Latin ordo could mean a group, arrangement, or class. But then, why wouldn’t Mr. Thomson have used the word populus, if he meant people?


We derive the noun form people from the Latin populus. The paths for etymology and meaning happen to converge; they also diverge, sometimes. Populus did not connote nationality in ancient times. It often referred to laying waste or degrading: perpopulor, to devastate, pillage; populabilis, destructible.


Ancient Romans did not have much sentiment for nationality. Their militaristic culture favored status. The Roman civitas was inseparable from the city of Rome. Latin had words aerarius and aerarium, for Roman residents who had to pay tax but were not allowed to vote or hold offices. The temple of Saturn had a special part to keep public offerings separate from those of the elites. Caesars could give death verdicts among any people, without legal rationale. We have to be very selective, seeking worthwhile aspects of the Antiquity. Compare the PIE.


The word ordo had a dignified sense: though translated scarce by Lewis and Short, we may compare Cicero. It did not have to denote a linear arrangement, but it also could: Roman military, bringing territories down, happened to face local people in battle formations.


Nowadays, the noun people means a group of human beings, or a nationality. As a group, it takes a plural verb: The people here all speak English. As a nationality or ethnicity, the noun may take on the plural itself: The peoples of Europe have formed a Union. Status can no longer decide on civil rights.


Seclorum looks a participal form (compare the participle), hence A New People Come (a new people to have become). The word Aera in Charles Thomson’s note refers to time in the modern sense of an era.


The US Library of Congress has received extensive materials about Charles Thomson. I hope they become accessible soon, as this is another project of mine. :)


Feel welcome to the voluntary extra practice on American civics with my grammar course.


British grammar nazis

GrammerDisclaimer: the adjacent — and colored meaningfully yellow — graphic piffle is not intended to mean the Union Jack proper. It is the British Grammar Nazis logo on Facebook.

British grammar nazis header




The logo dubious pulchritude may be seen in its full form on the right here, also with a click.


Much has been written about WWII. Evidently, mere gathering orthography and other detail does not make one capable of text interpretation. The Daily Mash got misread, same as Thomas Weber: some guys focus on the words “rhetoric” and “confirmed” too much. 


Without going into matters like the meaning of life, or the spoken lore on WWII and British losses — invaluable for those hard of reading — let me think text, statistics, and implications.

Daily mash

Daily Mash

British grammar nazis shares

GN (Grammar Nazis) Facebook



The Daily Mash article appears full size, when clicked.



The GN (Grammar Nazis) reactions page does the same. Should there be visiting GNs,   I promise a brief primer on irony after this indispensable piece of advice on living with them on the same planet.



The site has about 50 thousand “likes”. Taking the British population alone, that would make about 50 thousand functionally illiterate, among about 63 million people. Some might say it is not so bad, it is not even one percent. Still, you’d better think literacy, going to the UK: the guys wouldn’t have had the UK flag their capriccio, if it were not permitted. More, such odd types tend to occupy big towns.



Try for a plain passport photo, that is, without brooches, scarves, ties, anything you do not always carry. The piffle shows the guys’ attention to picture specifics. ;)


Remember to wave your hand, getting a taxi. It is a simple, therefore legible gesture. Try to get a map with statues and other tourist attractions in large icons. It is better to take a walk from the National Museum than end up the Piccadilly, owing to small print. ;)


In hotels, always tick the boxes. Ask for those straight, should you be provided with a form without boxes to tick. ;)


Mailing letters, get the recorded: they have ID strips. Seeking directions, approach people with newspapers: there are odds they can read them. Never ever leave your books or papers open: they might be taken for other utilities. ;)


Now, the primer on irony. The basics are in the affirmative and the negative. You do not take them for a yes or no merely. Let me quote the Mash:


In no way are any of these people vain, arsey pedants.


A GN, do not take this for a refutation, as Wikipedia explains.


Naturally, life cannot be about statements only. Let me continue with the Mash.


The way they selflessly dedicate themselves to correct punctuation, for example by pointing out to the staff of a chip shop why the term ‘chip’s’ is a sloppy obfuscation, confirms they are bold and righteous individuals.


Apply antonymy, to grasp the gist. The rest becomes plain with the close synonymy nobody would use for a complimentary note.


Laying all that out in detail to a GN looks discouragingly big a task, hence the handful of thoughts and the primary color, yellow (adjective, reference 3).


Grammar Nazis evidently do not have the courage to admit that picking on people’s works has no chance to bring in anything creative, sophisticated. They do not offer own blogs or websites, especially with serious language work, for evaluation.

How to grind effective – a brief intro

Inborn skills, gifts, and talents may become mediocre myths, at exams. We either have the talent, gift, and inborn skill to “cram”, or we end up doomed to unfulfilled dreams of prospect.

Important: we never literally cram.

(Try my way with grammar, if you please). :)


Prague book tunnel; click to enlarge.

In Prague, people made a book tunnel. Some describe it as a well of wisdom. The tunnel has been made of old copies. Mirrors give the illusion of it never ending. It is about 5 meters or 16 feet altogether. To me, it tells to choose own matter.



Important: we think what really matters to us

We do not learn “to entertain the Muses”. We give priority to what we could stay doing for living, and we work on it, at least a little, every day.

Important: we always think it over

Human memories are not artificial intelligence. We do not limit the time for skill to our learning time. We think about our matter, walking, washing or cleaning up.

We practice our memories and try to be as independent of notes and storage devices, as possible. This will pay at exams.

Important: we control our focus

We learn on trains, at railway stations (seriously), with the radio or television on (do not have to be loud). We will soon realize we do not really receive the radio or television audio, though we are aware of its presence. Our focus in silence is going to become stronger.



Most important: we organize our

We can look at an object and try to think absolutely nothing. We are going to notice that our inner processes bring on associations. We can direct these processes, especially for language study. Travelers in Grammar have some practice. Visualization also helps. See the integrated symbolics.


Important: we use keywords

We make cursory notes. We may make brief recordings. We can focus on speech parts, choose noun or verb structures. A word or two, from time to time — we see later if we “get ourselves”. In our thoughts, we can come up with keywords for possible test questions. It can be a pleasant surprise only, if we discover that real tests are not as detailed. ;)


Important: we relax

We never take “happy pills”. Artificial chemistry always competes against the natural brain messengers that make memories. Herbal teas are good: chamomile, melissa, or mint. We can listen to music, when we learn and work. We do at least a few exercises, to stretch out.

Good luck!  

Apples grow on noses: two languages – two minds?

Two minds_Speaking a second language can change everything from problem-solving skills to personality. It is almost as if you are two people, says Catherine de Lange.


We can read “Mon espirit paratage — My two minds”, in The New Scientist of May 5th, 2012. Ms. de Lange compares monolingual and bilingual children. Washington Post has her article.


Ms. De Lange reports she tested children on syntax. Both monolinguals and bilinguals could see the mistake in phrases such as “apples growed on trees”, but differences arose when they considered nonsensical sentences such as “apples grow on noses”. The monolinguals, flummoxed by the silliness of the phrase, incorrectly reported an error, whereas the bilinguals gave the right answer, says Ms. de Lange. 



Picture 1. Is there even one nose in the picture, if we do not know what noses count?

Monolingual or multilingual, children get fairy tales. It does not matter, if the kid speaks one or more languages. It it important that the child comprehends the language in which he or she can hear, there was a fairy land, a long time ago, where apples grew on noses.



Picture 2. Do apples grow square, if we have Big Apple Corners?



No matter if in one or many languages ― but dependent on pragmatics ― we could or could not count any noses in picture 1; the Big Apple Corner in picture 2 only might have apples. 




Talking the science, the task was deictically misconstrued, if the account is accurate. The children evidently did not know if they were to tell the syntax or the pragmatics. Further, we can doubt nonsense for a good test on syntax.



Ms. de Lange says she speaks English and French. All languages have spellings. What we write as bread in English is un pain in French.


To a boy as in the picture below, eating bread, a test to neglect semantics might be un mal a l’oreille, seriously sick, you know. This would influence results, as a test during which you would not say a word could be only awfully awkward. You cannot expect to find many boys ― as well as girls ― who do not eat bread, never went shopping with parents or carers, and have no idea how to spell the word.


I believe there is such a “language interface” among many languages. Either the spoken or the written forms happen to have some similarity. It is a natural reaction to distance oneself from ambiguities and “surf” the language form, which seems to be the case with Ms. de Lange results. Multilingual persons are well able to be pragmatic in language use. Monolingual persons are well capable of abstract thinking. The “surfing” is not a linguistic developmental stage: it is enough you are showed how to do this and you can, whether you speak one language or many.


Boy eating bread


To work on syntax, we can use virtual or invented words ― regardless of age. Students might not show if they are monolingual or multilingual, on task.


Phimos can bimo.

A car rolls, a doll dances, a troll hops, and a ball bounces. Toys are things. They can be phimos. Every phimo can bimo. Before long, a kid may tell easy if we are correct saying, The phimo bimo now. :)


Not only syntax, also speaking rewards a degree of autonomy. If we make our virtual words with speech sounds which learners need to exercise, we avoid the flummoxing that verbal associations might bring.

[th] is the sound in mother;

[th] is the sound in father

[th] is the sound in brother;

[th] is the sound in … pother ;)

Virtual words do not have meaning. They can help exercise form.

Bread is always bread; there are many languages.

Multilingualism is becoming an everyday thing in more and more countries and cultures. I like that. I do not like bias about an ability to comprehend, speak, write, read, and communicate in more than one language. It is not true that multilingualism makes one prone for nonsense. Multilingualism does not require any unusual wit, on the other hand. 


The bias in Ms. de Lange’s experiment implies that multilingual kids do not mind if something is real or true, and look to syntax only. Monolingual children would be presented as literal in all language use. Another ethical and linguistic concern comes with Ms. de Lange reporting infant brain scans for experimental purposes.  There is no way to obtain informed consent from an infant. Washington Post has more.

Click to enlarge

Read why I cannot see sense in such scans.