Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A minor quibble

Michael Novak has written an op-ed in the New York Times that discusses the character of Pope Benedict XVI. In it, he seems genuinely puzzled why the new pope has been characterized as a neoconservative by commentators in Europe and the United States.

He's absolutely right to be puzzled. Given that this is the head of the Roman Catholic Church that is being referred to, shouldn't he be properly described as a "novaconservative" instead of a "neoconservative"?

Since I took German in high-school instead of Latin, I'm not entirely sure how the Latin novus should be modified in this context. But from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary it seems that "nova" is the accepted English usage with "novas" or "novae" allowed for the plural.

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