Thursday, November 22, 2012

vitae/vita: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, November 22, 2012

Unless you are going to claim credit for accomplishments you had in previous incarnations, you should refer to your “vita,” not your “vitae.” All kidding aside, the AE in vitae supposedly indicates the genitive rather than the plural (that is, vitae in this case works like a possessive form to modify “curriculum”), but the derivation of vita from curriculum vitae is purely speculative (see the Oxford English Dictionary), and vitae on its own makes no sense grammatically.

Résumé, by the way, is a French word with both E’s accented. It literally means “summary.” In English one often sees it without the accents or with only the second accent, neither of which is a serious error. But if you’re trying to show how multilingual you are, remember the first accent.

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