Grateful for Google

I don’t know if other people do this, but I am constantly using Google to protect myself from saying boneheaded things. Just this morning I received a letter from a friend in which he joked that his children were spending their quiet time reading Calvin’s Institutes in the original Latin. Now, I distinctly remember reading that Calvin’s Institutes had done much to influence French writing style, so I thought about sending a quick email telling my friend that he was funny but wrong.

Almost without thinking I typed into my Google search box the string “Calvin’s institutes original language”. The third result was the Wikipedia entry for the Institutes, which contained this paragraph:

The original Institutes were written in Latin. Calvin wrote five major Latin editions in his lifetime (1536, 1539, 1543, 1550, and 1559). He translated the first French edition of the Institutes in 1541, corresponding to his 1539 Latin edition, and supervised the translation of 3 later French translations. The French translations of Calvin’s Institutes helped to shape the French language for generations, not unlike the influence of the King James Version for the English language. The final edition of the Institutes is about five times the length of the first edition.

One more embarrasment avoided.


2 thoughts on “Grateful for Google

  1. I bought my sister Stepping Heavenward for Christmas and she called today and said she was almost through with the book but a name had reappeared and she had forgotten who it was. Within seconds of Googling I was able to remind her who the character was.

    Ok, one more story:
    I once went into Great Christian Books in MD and asked for Pilgrim’s Progress in Old English. The hyper-intellectual clerk had a jolly good time laughing at me. I was just looking for it in its original form and not an abridgement but he was highly amused.

  2. And grateful for Wikipedia, too, I should imagine. I succumbed a few days ago to the lure of editing and have made over 350 contributions to Wikipedia in three days. Mostly were typo fixes, but I also made a few article edits (for style) and wrote a stub of one new article. Yeah, like I needed another online time-eater.

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