FOM: decline of English

Neil Tennant neilt at
Tue Feb 5 13:01:11 EST 2002

On Tue, 5 Feb 2002, Adrian-Richard-David Mathias wrote:

> When I learned Latin, it was drummed into me that a gerundive ---
> with the "nd" in the ending --- conveyed a
> sense of a future obligation to do something: 
> an agendum is something that ought to be done; 

Not exactly.

ago agere egi actum [to set in motion , drive]; of animals, [to drive or
hunt]. 'se agere', [to go]; 'animam' [to give up the ghost]; 'radices',
[to strike root]. Transf., [to incite] to action; [to deal with, be
engaged upon; to treat of] a subject;'hoc agere', [to attend to the matter
at hand]; pass., [to be concerned, be at stake]; 'actum est de', [it is
settled about], so [it is all over with]; 'bene agere cum homine', [to
treat a person well]; 'grates, gratias', [to express thanks]; 'pacem', [to
keep the peace]; of time, [to spend]; so absol., [to spend time, live]; on
the stage, [to act, play]; 'primas partes',[to play the leading part];
legal and polit., [to take a matter up publicly];

An agendum is more like something to be taken up publicly, to be
discussed; hence, the plrual agenda: things to be discussed at a meeting.
A related complaint is how often "agenda" is treated as a singular, rather
than as a plural, as in "The agenda for the meeting is in your mailbox".
This would be better expressed as "The list of agenda for the meeting is
in your mailbox", or "The agenda for the meeting are in your mailbox, on a

Neil Tennant

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