Cicero vs. Kickero

James Hilton – Good-Bye, Mr. Chips:

At last Chips had something tangible that he could tackle. “Oh, THAT!” he answered, scornfully. “Well, I—umph—I admit that I don’t agree with the new pronunciation. I never did. Umph—a lot of nonsense, in my opinion. Making boys say ‘Kickero’ at school when— umph—for the rest of their lives they’ll say ‘Cicero’—if they ever—umph—say it at all. And instead of ‘vicissim’— God bless my soul—you’d make them say, ‘We kiss ‘im’! Umph— umph!” And he chuckled momentarily, forgetting that he was in Ralston’s study and not in his own friendly form room.

“Well, there you are, Mr. Chipping—that’s just an example of what I complain of. You hold one opinion and I hold another, and, since you decline to give way, there can’t very well be any alternative. I aim to make Brookfield a thoroughly up-to-date school. I’m a science man myself, but for all that I have no objection to the classics—provided that they are taught efficiently. Because they are dead languages is no reason why they should be dealt with in a dead educational technique. I understand, Mr. Chipping, that your Latin and Greek lessons are exactly the same as they were when I began here ten years ago?”

Chips answered, slowly and with pride: “For that matter—umph —they are the same as when your predecessor—Mr. Meldrum —came here, and that—umph—was thirty-eight years ago. We began here, Mr. Meldrum and I—in—umph—in 1870. And it was—um—Mr. Meldrum’s predecessor, Mr. Wetherby—who first approved my syllabus. ‘You’ll take the Cicero for the fourth,’ he said to me. Cicero, too—not Kickero!”

“And worst of all, he wouldn’t even say my name correctly!”

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