Fora or forums?

I remember the first heard time I heard fora. It was at a conference of senior public servants. I laughed, at first thinking the speaker was being humorous but he was far too earnest.

What does it mean? It is a word that replaces, what normal people, and indeed, any editor or writer, would use: forums.

It is slightly comic and also a bit tragic to hear it used. It is an indicator that the user is trying to show you that he or she is very erudite indeed. But it really tells you that they are trying too hard. Such users are mostly associate professors of social engineering or civil servants. Unfortunately it is part of our ex-Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudds’  vocabulary. He is also a fan of stadia.

Forum was a Latin word meaning similar to ‘what is out of doors’. It has been naturalised into English for the last 500 years and no longer counts as a foreign word. Its English plural is forums despite what many other (more tolerant?) websites would have us believe.

To use fora instead of forums is presumptious, pompous and downright wrong. If we are foolish enough to follow the lead of the didactics we would be growing nasturtia (nasturtiums), viewing our photograph alba (albums) and visiting musea (museums); all this on the way to the asyla (asylums).