What is English?

An interesting passage from State v. Gilbert, 13 Vt. 647 (1841), rejecting the defendant’s claim that an indictment was defective because it listed the year of the offense as 1840 “Anno Domini” instead of “in the year of the Lord” — which, according to the defendant, did not provide sufficient notice to the defendant because it was not in English:

The objection to the use of the words Anno Domini, in the caption of the indictment, cannot prevail. . . . These words have become literally English by adoption. The same is true of a very considerable number of terms in the language. Most of these adopted terms have changed their costume, while others have not. “ Phenomenon” and “ memorandum,” are as strictly English, as any terms of the most purely Saxon derivation. Others are not the less so because they still retain their foreign dress, e. g. pro tempore, sine die, nemine contradicente, bona fide, Anno Domini, as well as, ennui, sang froid, beaux, capapie, tete-a-tete, and thousands of others, which are well understood by mere English readers.

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