A funny thing happened to Bill Hicks on the way to the forum. The TES forum, that is

10th February 2006 at 00:00
Every time I sit down to write this stuff, I have to resist the temptation to turn my back on the most populous TES chatrooms and retreat into that cool green grove of rational discourse that is the Classics forum.

Last weekend, with the Opinion forum once again in tumult, the attraction of a spell of calm and reasoned discussion of linguistic and philosophical matters was too great to resist. Anyway, this visit was long overdue: after all, we owe the very word forum to the Romans, don't we?

Classics is not the busiest, nor the funniest, nor even the cleverest of the Staffroom areas, but it has charms of its own. And in case you're worried, you do not have to speak Latin or Ancient Greek to join in.

It was opened a little over a year ago at the request of a persuasive group of practising and would-be teachers of classics, some old-school, others inspired by the recent revival of interest in classical languages.

So what was the first thing I blundered into? A discussion of what was on the telly last night, for pity's sake. Only here, it was not Big Brother but Boris Johnson in Rome.

"I am not an admirer of his politics, but I do have to say I thought this new series Boris Johnson and the Dream of Rome was quite good," opined Crispin.

Gossypion concurred: "After the Dynasty-cum-Eastenders rubbish that they were feeding us in Rome, this was like a breath of fresh air. I look forward to the second part."

Are you getting the picture? It's not just that our classicists have a better class of username, they even converse in complete sentences.

In the next thread, angelil needed help with her Latin: "Iniisse? What does it mean? I can't find it in a dictionary."

Gossypion was quick on the draw with a conjugation: "ineo, inire, ini(v)isse, initum. Compound in + eo, meaning 'to go into', etc. It mostly doesn't have the 'v' in the perfect tenses. It's the root of initial, initiate and so on..."

I'll skip the thread in which Annastophones sought advice on teaching Plutarch, and move to Drowner77's request : "How would you say, Long Live the Love Revolution?"

Johnyoung: "Can I suggest floreat motus pro amore?"

Let's finish with this heartening exchange started by frangwe, a teacher who was attempting to introduce beginners' Latin into school, equipped only with "my rusty O-level Latin of 25 years ago".

Frangwe: "I know this is a bit basic, but how are you all teaching students to pronounce 'v' these days? I was taught to pronounce 'salve' as 'salway', but my students say that they have heard 'salvay' on TV."

Agamemnon: "Salway."

Chris reall: "Salway is classical. Salvay is church Latin."

Enter andromache : "I learned salvay in Scotland in the 70s, but in England most of my pupils have learned salway, serwus etc. We try to be tolerant of each other..."

Evasura made a stab at having the last word: "V and u were the same in classical Latin, and they were pronounced as a semi-vowel w."

As did chris reall: "etiam" ("indeed").

And thus handed the game to andromache: "A shop near argos, isn't it?..."

OK, so their jokes aren't that classical. Valete, omnes.

Follow these threads at www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

* Behaviour: Music to calm children

* Teaching assistants: Ancient Egyptian lotus flowers

* Personal: Help! A student has attached herself to me.

* Opinion: Two Jags Prestcott's U-turn

* Personal: Snogged a colleague!

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website

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