back to article Molesworth and the New Latin

'In his speech [...] the Education Secretary Michael Gove appeared to accept in its entirety the argument that ICT had become little more than training in office skills and something far more rigorous was required [...] While Alex Hope's slogan "coding is the new Latin" did not appeal to some, it must have appealed to the …


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  1. Lee Dowling


    Completely unreadable, even if that was supposed to be the point.

    1. Pete Spicer

      Re: WTH?

      as any fule kno...

      It's done in the style of the Molesworth books, somewhat hinted at by the title.

      Interesting take on the question... the underlying point is about why the education curriculum is about to include teaching computer programming at some level to all students - that for most it will be as useful as Latin is, hence "it's the new Latin".

      1. MichaelBirks

        Re: Re: WTH?

        Ah. My bad, then. I thought it was just written in the 'modern' style where teachers aren't allowed to correct for spelling of grammar in case they stifle the little chav's creativity.

        1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

          Re: Re: Re: WTH?

          My bad? What does that mean?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: WTH?

        "as any fule kno...

        It's done in the style of the Molesworth books, somewhat hinted at by the title."

        I don't need no stinking Wikipedia to tell me that, but it doesn't make the article any easier to read.

        "the underlying point is about why the education curriculum is about to include teaching computer programming at some level to all students - that for most it will be as useful as Latin is, hence "it's the new Latin"."

        Good. Because "most" is an improvement over the current curriculum which is no bloody use to anyone at all.

    2. Armando 123

      Re: WTH?

      Try googling "Down with Skool". It will be ixplayned, as enny ful kno.

    3. Anonymous Coward 101
      Thumb Down

      Re: WTH?


      This is like one of those political cartoons that appear in broadsheet newspapers. They are typically more difficult to understand and less funny than the issue they are supposedly about.

    4. Richard Taylor 2

      Re: WTH?

      Lee Dowling - an exemple off any fule......

    5. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: WTH?

      Chiz chiz.

      Yew are that orful swot Fotherington-Thomas[1] and I clame my fyve lbs.

      [1] and a gurl to.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        WTH? Commentards...

        ... know your memes!

    6. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: WTH?

      God forbid you ever try to read Iain M Banks' Feersum Endjinn then. Your powers of reading comprehension are clearly too weak.

      Unlike a computer, the human mind should be able to parse and extract meaning from a badly formed sentence.

  2. Armando 123


    I always loved "Down With Skul!" Glad to see I'm not the only old frat who remembers it.

    1. Armando 123

      Re: Bravo!

      Er, Skool. Gad, I need coffee.

      1. Audrey S. Thackeray

        Re: Re: Bravo!

        Does coffee make frats fart?

  3. Mage Silver badge


    My eyes are bleeding...

    Call an ambulance.

    1. Chika

      Re: Arrrrrrrgh!


  4. Josco

    Not too bad

    Couple of spelling errors, but on the whole quite good.

    1. Richard Taylor 2
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not too bad

      In the modern parlance, an A*

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    The new latin

    Coding in a language

    as dead as dead can be

    it killed the ancient programmers

    and now it's killing me

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: The new latin

      Shouldn't that be: "first it killed the beardies / and now it's killing me."?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The new latin

      .... though as an engineer (microelectronics design) and previously a maths graduate I always maintain that Latin and the way you learn that sentences etc have a logical construction of correcly ordered/conjugated/declined nouns, adjectives and verbs etc has been an invaluable foundation for applying similar logical techniques to maths and design!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: The new latin @ AC 14:02

        Show off!

        1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Re: Re: The new latin @ AC 14:02 - show off

          >show off

          Not so much. It didn't spell correctly correctly.

      2. Michael Dunn

        Re: Re: The new latin

        Quite agree. One is reminded of the Russell essay on education in which he claims that the only thing he remembers from his school Latin is the genitive plural of "pulex', and that the teaching of the language in schools is now of any use. However, he writes this in a clarity of language that can only have come from his having 'done the classics'. Helped a bit with his 'Principia', too.

        1. Michael Dunn

          Re: Re: Re: The new latin

          Sorry, should have been "is not of any use." Finger trouble.

  6. cosymart
    Thumb Up

    Love it

    Managed to dam both the current schools It strategy (is there one?) and the whole UK education system in one excellent article. As an aside I bet it was hard to write what with spell checkers and automatic corrections kicking in all the time...:-)

  7. Ian Stephenson

    Perfectly readable

    ..but then I fought my way through Feersum Endjinn....

    1. L.B.

      Re: Perfectly readable

      "Feersum Endjinn" the only Banks book that have I put down (2nd or 3rd chapter) and never, ever contemplated picking up again.

      Was it worth the effort?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Re: Perfectly readable

        >>>Was it worth the effort?

        Nope. I did fight my way through all of Feersum Endjinn, and I needn't have bothered really. I suppose I ought to re-read it, to see if I was being unfair. I couldn't be arsed to get through A Clockwork Orange because of that, so I don't know if it's caused me to miss something good...

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Re: Re: Perfectly readable

          > Nope. I did fight my way through all of Feersum Endjinn, and I needn't have bothered really. I

          > suppose I ought to re-read it, to see if I was being unfair. I couldn't be arsed to get through A

          > Clockwork Orange because of that, so I don't know if it's caused me to miss something good...

          I haven't seen any solid research on this, but I suspect that some readers find it much easier to tolerate variant-dialect writing than others do. It's unlikely that everyone who learns to read English, or even everyone who's a "good reader" of English (however you want to defined that), develops precisely the same cognitive capabilities for that purpose. Thanks to neurological research, we know that's not true of many other mental facilities; even something relatively simple like being able to find your way around an area you're familiar with appears to have at least two distinct neurological "implementations".

          So for some people this sort of novel (you could add Hoban's /Riddley Walker/ and Gilman's /Moonwise/ to the list) is likely much more work than for others, and thus less likely to be "worth it".

      2. a cynic writes...

        Re: Re: Perfectly readable

        Yes - after the third or fourth attempt.

      3. Jacqui

        Re: Re: Perfectly readable

        Yes - but only if you are a fan. IMHO Its about as readable as The wasp factory and the ending has a similar twist.

        1. jai

          Re: Re: Re: Perfectly readable


          and on mulitple accounts:

          1) feersum endjinn was bloody brilliant and damn entertaining.


          2) i can't believe you can rate Canal Dreams higher than feersum endjinn, or in fact any other book ever!!!!

      4. Ian Stephenson

        Re: Re: Perfectly readable

        Not really, but I don't really rate any of his non-Culture Sci-Fi, except "Against a Dark Background"

        The Lazy Gun really caught my imagination

      5. Chris 3

        Re: Re: Perfectly readable

        It's a slog at the start, but it really really *is* worth reading. Once of my favourite Banks books, despite the struggle, immensely imaginative. Seriously, give it another go.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Feersum Endjinn - one of the best of IMB's works.

          Seriously, go back and give it another go. Remember that only one of the characters is written phonetically (though probably the most important one), but a bit of patience will soon get past the (necessary) denseness of those sections.

  8. Lallabalalla

    Love it

    speling a bit overdone but WTF. Molesworth rules. Luv ref to peason to.

  9. frank ly

    Can we have....

    .. some illustrations please (in the style of...)?

  10. Mostly_Harmless
    Thumb Up

    good stuff, but...

    ...was missing Fotherington-Thomas saying "hello clouds hello sky"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: good stuff, but...

      And Molesworth 2 - "uterly wet and a weed it panes me to think i am of the same blud"

  11. SiempreTuna
    Thumb Up


    .. I'd completely forgotten about Molesworth ..

    Re the underlying point: why would anyone learn to code now? In 5 years, it'll all be done in India, future global ruler (if they don't like you, someone in Bangalore will flick a switch and turn off your country).

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      That's what I'm wondering....

      Maybe it's for the Heritage Industry?

      You can go to an industrial museum today, there seem to be hundreds, and see somebody working a Victorian loom. In the future you may be able to look around a Heritage software house, see somebody in a BOFH T-shirt and be told:

      "And here C programmers used to chase memory leaks"


    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent!

      "In 5 years, it'll all be done in India"

      I think you meant "all the tedious, boring and slow stuff will be done in India". I still have to see something that reaches the quality level of MySQL out of India and I predict that they will never, ever write something as great as Linux or Postgres. I am absolutely not scared of people who do not have a rigorous education nor the ambition to acquire that. There will be more interesting software emanate from Norway than India also for the next 200 years.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Re: Excellent!

        Wowsers! And me and my redneck friends routinely get called racists? Incredible.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: Excellent!

          Why is stating the facts "racist" ? I would also admit that Indian food is probably 100 times more popular than German food. And I also like Indian food.

          Different nations do have different characteristics and denying that is simply idiotic.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Re: Excellent!

        There's no reason a well educated Indian (hint - their comp sci education is probably better than ours is now) cannot produce work to the same standard as a well educated anybody-else. Any nation that invests in education will come out ahead of any that doesn't. I'm not thinking specifically of India, but any nation where the education system hasn't fallen into ruins, for example Scandinavia, China, south-east Asian nations such as Singapore and South Korea, and almost anywhere else that isn't the UK or US.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: Excellent!

          "There's no reason a well educated Indian (hint - their comp sci education is probably better than ours is now)"

          You pulled that one entirely out of thin air. Have you ever spoken to them and probed their depth of conceptual expertise ? Their knowledge is mostly very narrow and non-conceptual. They might know all the details of win32, but they have never bothered to look at the X window system, Display Postscript or read research papers.

          Most of them won't even know the difference of a tree and a hashtable. They won't know why hashtables must be faster and how you build them. And that is just one specific example.

          I don't you why this is, but I suspect Indians are mostly in IT to make lots of money (as compared to other job in India), but not because they are fascinated of it and want to improve the state of computer science affairs.

          The difference of Norway and India is that of a few excellent and the armies of the mediocre. Just look at the results in the open source sphere.

  12. lee harvey osmond

    Deary deary me...

    ... so I was working my way down page 1, thinking "Even Molesworth never spelled quite this badly", not realising that this was all setup for a gag on page 2, which duly arrived and left me unprepared for the even better gag that followed clutching its coattails.

    What, no Basil Fotherington-Thomas?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh god....

    What scared me most was that ..... Until about halfway through page one, I didn’t notice its was written in the style of "dyslexic hoodie chav"

    1. Chika

      Re: Oh god....

      They had chavs back then? I kno that peason hav a face like a squished tomato but i neva herd him being called a hudi....

  14. Smokey Joe
    Thumb Up


    Grinned the whole way through that.

  15. Steve Potz-Rayner
    Thumb Up

    Close but not quite.

    Some of the Molesworthian spelling mistakes are ah...wrong. 6/10 Stob see me during the brake. You need to swot more.

    As an aside, The Compleet Molesworth was on Waterstone's 'Books You Always Meant To Read' display just a couple of weeks ago. There are worse ways to spend a tenner.

    Cave! Cave! Here comes Sigismund!

  16. Jacqui

    leaks - the *real* bit bucket

    At uni/poly we had a Harris S6 mini - in a tall rack case in the middle of the machine room.

    Yup Engineering got DEC's - compsci got antique (even then) Vulcan's :-)

    Anyhoo this POC^Wmachine was proudly being shown off during open day to the goggle eyed prospectives for next years course. I was working on a terminal just outside next to the sole plotter and a friend was on call as sysadmin and lecturer helldesker.

    Anyway one of the brighter students noted a plastic bucket stored in the bottom of the Harris cabinet and asked why it was there. Lecturer was in obvious panic so he turned to my mate Tony Smith (not of Reg fame!). rather than explain there was a hole in the roof that the uni was too skint/lazy to repair he explained how computers operate on bits. Everybody nodded. He then asked if everyone had seen a "pachinko" machine (again everyone nodded including lecturer). He explained that computers are like very very complex pachinko machines and eventually the bits fall out of the bottom of the machine into said bucket. Part of his duties is to empty the full bucket back into the top of the machine. Again everyone (including lecturer nodded).

    I had a really hard time not breaking out into hysterical laughter.

  17. jai

    WISTLING a lite DDT


    quality stuff Ms Stob, as always. much appreciated

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As bad as ICHC

    That was like reading the comment threads on I Can Haz Cheezeburger.

    Folks: Limited use of such writing for effect is OK - limited being about the space of an ICHC caption.

    aftur dat, it getz rilly anoing, amirite?

    1. Sly
      Paris Hilton

      Re: As bad as ICHC

      more like around 2 paragraphs... after that the ADHD kicks in and I'm ...


      /Paris for the distractions of course

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: As bad as ICHC

        I have ADOS

        Attention Defic oOOOooo Shiny..!

    2. BenM 29

      Re: As bad as ICHC

      >>Folks: Limited use of such writing for effect is OK

      There are 4 (the fifth is a collection of the previous 4) books written in a style that Verity has emulated... I guess that counts as limited as none of them are very long (in comparison to Potter or Tolkien).

  19. Hazed
    Thumb Up

    Fotherington-Thomas sez...

    Hello clouds, hello sky, hello world.

  20. Mike Plowman


    Even funnier than the comments of dullards who clearly never read Molesworth.

    This needs to become a weakly kollum!


  21. MarkJ

    Even better if you run it through Google Translate into Latin!

    1. Chika

      Or a Swedish Chef translator.... bork bork bork! (as any fule kno)

  22. Maty

    Ut fueris dignior IT quam Latinus - de quo ipso ita tecum contendam. In veritam C++ Greacus novus est.

    So there.

    1. dogged

      Graecum in veritas est to the populace, sadly.

    2. Michael Dunn


      Actually "veritate", third declension noun, ablative case representing position in, rather than motion towards.

      1. dogged

        Re: veritam?

        Okay, but not bad getting the noun right after 30 years...

        1. Michael Dunn

          Re: Re: veritam?

          Yeah, well it's sixty years for me: Higher Schools Latin subsidiary subject 1950. Main subjects Physics, Chemistry and Maths. In those days one needed Latin to get into Uni.

  23. just_saying


    Even more deliciously vicious than your OU outburst, if only for it's much wider scope. How did we achieve a state where the people we pay to know better are committing us to SUICIDE BY (unchallenged, undereducated) YOUF?

  24. Mage Silver badge


    When is Verity's book out?

    I want to pre-order.

    1. Alistair Wall

      Re: Anyway


      While I was looking that up, I found a bit I hadn't read before:

      "... neither the author(s) nor Apress shall have any liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this work."

  25. grumpy ray

    you again!

    even at a distance of 12,000 km and some 35 years, I recognise that spelling. MOLESWORTH!!!

  26. Magnus_Pym

    Comp Sci

    In the 80's it was perhaps relevant to teach classes about 'computers' in the same way that people where knew about 'cars' in the 1900's: designing, building, maintaining and driving being all much the same thing back then. It wasn't many years later that thermodynamics, automotive design, production line management, garage mechanics and driving skills became different subjects.

    By all means teach the equivalent of driving skills at school; I think of perhaps typing and the theory/practice of email/spreadsheets/databases and cyber security. But, to my mind anything much beyond that is a specialist subject these days. The territory of after school clubs and college courses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Comp Sci

      Computer Science at what was O'level, should still be an option for those that want it.

      It's what got me to go on to study it at degree level, and the same skills/youth are needed in this country.

      I find it sad that it has been replaced with ICT, which has essentially become secretarial skillz.

      There should be the two streams: Computer Science/IT and Technology End User. Each serve their purpose.

      Just as there are still Chemistry, Pure Maths and Physics as options, there must be Computer Science/IT too. To say otherwise is to say we want no future in scientific/technology progress.

    2. David Hicks
      Thumb Down

      Re: Comp Sci

      No, it's not.

      Entry into programming is as easy as ever in this modern world of the 'App' on iOS and Android. At the very least an intro to programming course is needed to teach kids that programming is possible, and not some magic done by high wizards.

      Computers play a huge, huge part in everyone's lives these days. It's irresponsible not to give them a foot in the doorway to the huge world of manipulating and programming them. We don't teach kids just to read, we teach them to write as well. Intro to programming is the equivalent.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Re: Comp Sci

        Ability to program != ability to write maintainable code.

        Ability to copy'n'paste != ability to understand what you are copying does.

        Ability to drag'n'drop != ability to understand the visual idiom and where it breaks down.

        Case in point: Design a simple web-page layout in MS Word with the words 'Hello World' centred in bold type. Save as HTML. Open in notepad. Point to the 3% of the cruft that actually makes the words 'Hello World' appear on the page in the right place. Explain what the other 97% does.

  27. Richard Cranium

    Choice would be a good thing...

    There may be a place for a "computer skills" course which is about learning to use applications or one a bit more management oriented covering stuff like systems analysis, writing system specs etc.

    Then "The IT course" could be the kind of mentally stimulating exercise many of an older generation of IT workers got from their ZX80, BBC micro, Archimedes etc. Every student gets a Raspberry Pi as base hardware they can expand on hardware and get into coding. Frankly I think our schools system couldn't cope, it would be better done as an Open University type scheme but maybe a bit of a hybrid so in school there is a facilitator, who also participates in the learning and keeps an eye on individuals activities.

    My kid started an IT A level at what has been called "the best state school in Sheffield". It was deadly dull, the teachers seemed to know little about what they were teaching and probably misunderstood the syllabus. At the end of year one all but one kid failed the AS level so the school withdrew the option to do year 2.

  28. Bunker_Monkey

    Liek toally!

    ur al leik toally noobs!

    pwn'd - leik Teh_pwnerer rulz

    I cud udstnad it!

    I'll get my jacket, cause this countries english skillz have toally gone down the pan!!!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    System.out.println("Cornelia sedet sub arbore");

    Or maybe that'll actually understand Lorem Ipsum?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NuLatin

      And one for the old skool classicists here

      Caesar adsum iam forte

      Pompey aderat

      Caesar sic in omnibus

      Pompey sic intram

      1. Chika

        Re: Re: NuLatin

        Nil illegitimus carborundum

  30. peyton?

    Must add

    That powerpoint slide: glorious

    I'll be chuckling over that the rest of the day.

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