The English language, with its rich vocabulary and means of expression, has emerged as the lingua franca of scientific communication, prompting the thought that perhaps the term should be replaced with lingua anglica. Yet, that wouldn't be quite accurate, because many scientists claim that the true language of scientific meetings and manuscripts is "broken English."

Latin, which provides considerable insight into scientific terminology, was a compulsory requirement for university studies in science or medicine when I was educated in England one-half century ago. Today, knowledge of classical languages by scientists is extremely rare. Incorrect use of the language and poor writing skills are very common, even by scientific manuscript authors whose native tongue is English.

The US dominance in science has resulted in scientific journals adopting mid-Atlantic spelling and idioms, with the unfortunate erosion of classical English spelling and grammar. Split infinitives--to greatly disagree, for example--are permitted. Mid-Atlantic spelling...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!