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In Brief

Written By: Cindy Lee on January 20, 2009 4 Comments

As I’m gearing up for a new semester of class, I’d like to share a realization that has shown me, once again, just how Californian I’ve become.  Having grown up in Cleveland, I resisted mightily at any hint that California had thinned my blood, but the signs that this change has occurred keep popping up, just as strongly as the gusts of wind that battered my no-longer-Midwestern-layers atop the Eiffel Tower.  This sign has to do with Paris.

Now, I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 10 years, and have duly learned the micro-climes of the Castro, North Beach, and the Mission District.  Well, I associated the Mission District with the Latin Quarter, and fully expected to spy some taquerias while in France.  Imagine my surprise at the guidebook when, as I was preparing for my trip, I learned that one does not go to the Latin Quarter for Mexican food or samba lessons.

No!  It’s called the Latin Quarter because people did Latin there. [NB: I don’t assume other Californians have made this mistake, but uh…it’s not something I would have thought of in Cleveland!]

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4 Responses to “In Brief”

  1. Youki on: 20 January 2009 at 6:58 am

    how fascinating! Do people still do/speak/write Latin there? It would be great to see how different languages interact with each other on signs, menus, newspapers, and other forms of media. Is the Latin commercialized (the same way a lot of Japanese culture is commercialized and commodified in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles — I am both comforted yet slightly vexed by the large availability of Japanese culture) and directed towards tourists?

  2. daveski on: 21 January 2009 at 4:47 am

    Hm, yeah, I wonder, what remains of Latin in the Latin Quarter? What actually happened there?

    I remember my first time in North Beach in San Francisco, being disappointed at not finding a beach on Columbus Avenue. Though I know the edges of the city were ‘filled out’ as it was developed…

    And do you think people visiting Silicon Valley in 100 years will be disappointed to find no silicon?

  3. Cindy Lee on: 21 January 2009 at 8:18 am

    What?! There is no silicon?! Preposterous! As far as I know, people can still be classicists, so there are still Latin-ers (who are not necessarily Latinos) in the Latin Quarter.
    Also, you still see a lot of “Latin-y” writing (V instead of U, as in EDVCATION) on all the old buildings, although that style was in vogue in different eras, and not just “when people did Latin.” It’s not, however, the kind of functional Latin they claim is used in Vatican City; “claim” because my friend searched for an ATM that uses Latin and never found one.

  4. daveski on: 22 January 2009 at 4:47 pm

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