Pari Passu and Vedi Supra

Back in my early days of employment, I worked with a distinguished research chemist who, for reasons beyond me, loved to sprinkle Latin terms throughout his writing that no one ever heard of. Two of his favorites were pari passu and vedi supra.  Otherwise, he was as normal as any other chemist (meaning not very).

Pari passu means “on equal footing” or “moving together.” For example, you could say your sense of well-being is pari passu with the stock market. If you left all of your money to your grandchildren, pari passu, they would get equal shares.

Vedi supra simply means “see above.”  So why use Latin?  It is surprising that he could find so many uses for these terms in his technical papers, but he did.

Part of the job of an irreverent friend and myself was to edit his writing and suggest changes before it was sent to the journals for publication. (We were far lower in the corporate hierarchy, and he disdainfully ignored our suggestions, unless they corrected something in flagrante delicto.) When we saw him in the halls or in the cafeteria, one of us would lean over to the other and whisper, “Pari pass-OOU!” and the other would reply, “Ved-eee-SOUP-ra!”

I kid you not, vedi supra.  (You can only hear this anecdote from me—the other two have died.)


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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