Monday, 29 February 2016


Like realising that to the rest of the world, in normal parlance the abbreviation LWOP would probably not signal “leave without pay” but “life without parole,” a conceit fit more for a country-western lament rather than the docket, I discovered that for most of the world the phrase quid pro quo does not connote primarily reciprocation—tit-for-tat—but rather misapprehension or even substitution, to mistake one thing for another or appearing in cookbooks as QPQ when one can use olive oil in place of tallow and for prescriptions when one medicine was unavailable.
Similarly while quis might now be a gauge for user- friendliness in the Questionnaire for User- Interaction Satisfaction, a battery of tools used to rate the experience for different platforms—it used to signify something quite different in schoolyard vernacular. If we could borrow a page of dialogue from the salad days, courtesy of Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the day, quis, the Latin pronoun akin to who, was often used as a much more elegant and compact way of inquiring “who among you wants this particular thing which I am offering?” Quis? The claimant would respond with ego, me. Whether any bright young things ever had such an exchange outside of Brideshead Revisited, I’m not sure, but it ought to be brought back, nonetheless.