From Donkey Skin, illustration by Cathy Delanssay

Good night folks!

It’s quite late here and I’m still awake (gosh, half-awake, to be honest), stubbornly thinking about this weird word. It’s the first selection of this week by A.Word.A.Day. and – as I told in my last post – it opens the series of words ‘describing people‘. What’s the matter with it? First of all, I cannot find any translation in Italian, in spite of its Latin origin. No word or expression can define this term properly. It’s a complete nonsense, really, it originated from a Latin word, but there’s no Latin word corresponding to it … because it’s a misspell! A Latin word mispronounced by an illiterate monk and stubbornly  held as correct against any clear evidence …


1. A view stubbornly held in spite of clear evidence that it’s wrong.
2. A person who holds such a view.
According to an old story, a priest used the nonsense word mumpsimus (instead of Latin sumpsimus) in the Mass. Even when told it was incorrect, he insisted that he had been saying it for 40 years and wouldn’t change it. The expression is “quod in ore sumpsimus” (‘which we have taken into the mouth’). Earliest documented use: 1530.
She knows the boss’s behavior is wrong but mumpsimus has set in.”
Mary Lou Dobbs; Repotting Yourself; O Books; 2010.
Do not be a mumpsimus about networking. … Resist the popular notion that networking is all fake sincerity and pushy behavior.”
Dean Lindsay; Cracking the Networking Code; World Gumbo; 2005.
Italian translation:
1) Cosa, punto di vista, espressione, ecc. sostenuta contro l’evidenza.
2) Chi sostiene l’assurdo, chi nega l’evidenza.
Well, this calls to my mind a couple of things:
1) My sweet child Melissa, aged nearly four, and my vain attempts of correcting her when she pronounces words in a wrong way. I know it’s typical of most children, but every time I try obstinately to correct her pronounce … in spite of any clear evidence that she won’t rectify her mistake! Please tell me, who’s the mumpsimus between us?
2) A funny (and almost unbelievable to me) thing  I discovered to my great surprise:  I found someone who’s stubbornly persuaded that the Italian ‘per favore‘ is spelled as one word, i.e. perfavore (for the non-Italian speakers: it’s blatantly incorrect). Who’s he? No poor illiterate, believe me, he even studied humanities when he was a lad.  He is … my boss! Oh-my-gosh!
Bedtime, folks, now it’s time to go to sleep … hoping that tomorrow I’ve still got a job!
Have a good night …
Your passionate (Italian) Translator

2 responses to “Pardon?

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