Britannia's Success

Article published on Aug. 24, 2005
Article published on Aug. 24, 2005

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Everybody is looking for success. However, all too often, we are forced to look for an exit from difficult situations. This may sound like the beginning to a cheap self-help book, but in fact the sense of the word ‘exit’ varies significantly according to the language in which it is being used. The Portuguese êxito, the Spanish éxito and èxit in Catalan all mean ‘to triumph’. For the English speaker, on the other hand, exit simply means a way out. Strangely, when looking at the Latin root of the word, exitus (which means death in German!), we can see that English has conserved its initial etymological meaning, while the Iberian Peninsula has taken its secondary meaning. It is a linguistic paradox that a language such as English could teach three Romanic languages a thing or two about Latin. The Romans' brief trip to old Britannia was not in vain after all!