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.