Cambridge University left red-faced after spelling mistake is inscribed on new £1.3million extension

May 24, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Cambridge University Classics department was left red-faced after MISSPELLING the ancient Greek quote on the doors of their new £1.3 million extension.

Academics chose the famous Aristotle line ”all men by nature desiring to know” but spelt the word ‘phusei’, ‘by nature’, with an English S rather than the Greek letter sigma.

The glass doors of stylish new entrance on the university’s Sidgwick site have also been slammed for opening too slowly and causing traffic jams among staff and students.

Critics blamed ”disabled access legislation gone mad” for requiring the doors to be fitted with Health and Safety approved electronic opening mechanisms.

Professor of Classics Mary Beard, 55, a member of the department, slammed the blunder in the 5,500sq ft extension which was completed in March.

Writing on her blog, she said: ”Even the gods have shown their disapproval in their own inimitable way.

”We decided to have some nice ancient writing across the offending doors (partly another health and safety requirement – you can’t have plain glass doors in case someone bumps into them – I kid you not).

”One of the quotes chosen was that famous line by Aristotle about ”all men by nature desiring to know”.

”But look what happened to the S of ‘Phusei’ (by nature) . . . an English S not a Greek S.

Professor Beard said doors were too heavy for people to open manually and had to be operated by an electronic system, causing ”rage and bottle necks” among users.

She said: ”To open them you have to press an electronic ‘open door’ button – and they then sweep aside dramatically in front of you.

”Dramatically and slowly.

”So, at busy times (like, on the hour when lectures are changing over), there is a mass of bodies trying to get into and out of the building, but needing to wait for the stately pace of the doors’ operation.

”In any case, as soon as you push them open and then someone pushes from the other side, the doors take on a life of their own and come back and attack you.

”And as if that wasn’t enough, they repeatedly stop working anyway.

”This is disabled access legislation gone mad (or perhaps done on the cheap).

”I can’t actually imagine that wheelchair users (not in truth that I have ever seen one taking advantage of these access arrangements) can be happy with this.”

The two-storey extension sparked a row with the nearby faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies when the plans were announced in 2009.

Professor in Japanese studies Richard Bowring, said design was ”far from an elegant solution” and predicted the blind corner on the site would lead to a ”nasty accident”.

But Professor Malcolm Schofield, chairman of the classics faculty board, described the extension as ”ingenious and elegant”.

The university declined to comment.

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