The other ‘quality’ that always crops up is our eccentricity. A prime candidate would be the bloke that ‘ran’ the London Marathon in a deep-sea diving suit, or the views of Peter Hitchens, but is eccentricity really such a unique national trait? You only have to look at what people will do to get in the Guinness Book of Records to realise that we aren’t the only oddballs on the the planet.
What set me thinking about this was something I read yesterday. In Finland there is a weekly news station that has a listening audience of 75,000, more than any other international Finnish broadcast. And its USP? The news is read entirely in Latin. Have a listen if you don’t believe me.
Latin was a compulsory subject when I started secondaty school. (No quips about it being the national language back then.) I hated it and packed it in when we got to choose other options in the third year since when I have pretty much forgotten all the Latin I knew and have felt much better for it.
But what it is it about the Finns and Latin? There is even a Latin Elvis up there in the land of the midnight sun who has translated his songs into the language of Cato and Cicero. Here are some examples. See if you can work out what they are, answers on the comments page:
Nunc Hic Aut Nunquam
Non Adamare Non Possum
Tenere Me Ama
The point being that we may think that some of our countrymen occasionally behave oddly, but there are folk out there in the rest of the world who make them look positively sane.