Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I am currently taking a course on syntax which the professor introduced by defining the subject thus: "...which is, of course, the tax that sinners pay to the church."

Apparently this joke is quite an old one-- while looking up Latin-related references for that same class on Google Books, I came across The Comic Latin Grammar of 1840, which contains the following line:
Q. What part of the grammar resembles the indulgences sold in the middle ages?
A. Sin-tax.

1 comment:

  1. And in the 1817 Rosabella: or, A mother's marriage by Catherine Cuthbertson: page 323.

    From this oration, Lady Horatia rolled off into a torrent of volubility, which no individual present had power to stem; talking upon all subjects, and blending truth and fiction with a rapidity and perseverance, amazing if not amusing to the circle, who were perforce converted into auditors; but at length, on her mentionsing a rising orator at the bar, she unwarily proclaimed his having been her playmate in their juvenile days ;—" that they even had learned out of the same book; and many an hour had conned their syntax together;" when Lady Moneyhive exclaimed, — edging in her oral sounds with a degree of dexterity that none else could achieve —

    " Sin tax ! Why laws ! is there going to be a tax on sin? — I suppose set on foot by that there society for the impression of vice.—It will be productive enough, I'll warrant. But, laws! how will they manage for collecting on it ?"