Putting the ad in adverts

The most enduring Latin preposition today is ‘ad’, meaning ‘to’ or ‘towards’. That’s the ‘ad’ in advert, the ad in advertising. It is the most enduring preposition and the one selling the best Latin to an unLatinate postmodernity. It’s also one of the shortest prepositions.

An advertisement or an advert is a turning towards. It’s Latin’s way of turning itself to our modern world. That’s the ‘vert’ (from vertere), or veering, or turning, towards our attention. An advert is something making a claim on our awareness – making our head turn around. We are turning our heads all the time, but finding something to make them turn is no small matter. If the advert is good, the head turns, the mind wheels and the self is engaged.

An ad is a moving towards something. The head turns, the mind is captured, our attention is arrested by the unexpected, which sets the turning in motion.

An advertisement is both a turning towards something and an avertissement, a word of warning, an alert. It is a warning that new beginnings might be round the corner; that we might encounter the unexpected. It is an early awareness system telling us that a preposition can wreak havoc. That a preposition is not just a preposition, but the seed of discord in our undisturbed, placid soil. That a +2000-year old preposition has enough energy in it as an atom of plutonium. And that history is the reactor wherein the preposition fissures, creating new energy and inspiring new creations.

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