30 MARCH 1996, Page 25

Hold very tight, please

Sir: Patrick Ussher (Letters, 23 March) seems to have 'suffered Latin' in vain. Everything he says about A.D. Godley's motor-bus poem is wrong. Bum is not the accusative of bos, which usually means ox rather than cow. Omnibus was being abbre- viated to bus by 1832, three years after the first public transport came to London. The word, meaning 'for all', is as applicable to the motor vehicle apostrophised by Godley in 1914 as to its horse-drawn predecessor.

Thomas Braun

Dean and Tutor in Ancient History, Merton College, Oxford