I'm not a linguistic fundamentalist; phrases and words do evolve in meaning whether one likes it or not. I just a poor old man who finds it hard keeping up, and finds himself often disliking what he is expected to keep up with.
ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM
I've devoted some posts to this phrase, neatly defined by Locke as Pressing a man with the Consequences of his own Principles or Concessions. I wonder if anyone can trace the origin of the more recent idea that it means "A personal attack". (I plan, tomorrow, to share with you an argumentum ad hominem of the great Eric 'Anglican Patrimony' Mascall.)
I take this Latin phrase to mean "For the sake of appearance". But it now seems to be used for a Form ... the sort of piece of paper which one fills in and sends back (or doesn't). When, and why ever was the original simple four-letter f-word replaced by (what, until I am provided with a justification, I will continue to regard as) a spurious and unnecessary piece of pseudo-Latin pomposity?
Vince Cable used this when declining to comment to journalists on Clegggate. What does the phrase mean, and what did Cable think it meant? Are the two the same? I've always taken it to mean "For this particular purpose".
When and why did this word lose all its previous meanings and take on its new life as a replacement for 'problem'?
When and why did these words supersede the verbs 'to place' and 'to find' and their derivatives? 'He located [=placed] the wine-glass on the table'. 'He located [=found] the lost sixpence under the table'. Two perfectly decent monosyllables with totally different meanings seem to have been replaced by a single ambiguous latinism, thus affording opportunities for confusion.
My working suspicion is that the origins of at least the last of these changes may lie in the desire of clerklets to sound Important and Official. One train company (I'm not making this up) has this announcement: "Safety Information is located adjacent to the doors". I would have written "Safety Information is beside the doors". (OK, you're right, it could even just be 'by', but my instinct is that this would be a trifle vaguer than 'beside'.)
This is not simply a matter of words of teutonic origin being preferable to gallicisms, latinisms and grecisms (although it often may be ... I remember as an eight year old being - helpfully - advised to write begin rather than commence). 'Problem', I presume, is Greek, and none the worse for it; and (I haven't checked) I wonder whether 'place' may have started its long life as plateia, the broad boulevard in Hellenistic town planning, upon which the action of Menandrian New Comedy was played out.
No; at bottom, what we have in all this is the process (an old and poor English joke coming up here) whereby village policemen, making official reports, wrote (so it was claimed) "I was proceeding down the High Street ..." instead of "I was walking ...". It is the embarrassing tendency of the not-very-literate to overcompensate for their self-perceived inadequacies. I wonder if professional philologists have a term for it.
For us clergy, there is in fact a pastoral issue ... oops, problem ... here. When I was a curate in an extremely deprived South London inner city area (definitely not a 'location'), there were very many middle-aged white males who needed to make use of literacy mentoring. I gather this has not changed; I also gather that now there are groups, such as Bangladeshi women, whose English is sometimes not strong. I do not see why difficulties of communication, which such thoroughly worthy and decent people may have, need to be made worse just because some petty pen-pusher sitting in a railway office thinks that the unnecessary use of long pompous words will make him seem one hell of a guy. "located adjacent", indeed. One can just imagine him sitting at his plastic desk with all his shiny biros neatly arranged in his jacket pocket.