The Adani group has changed the name of its Australian operation ‘Bravus’, a word which means “crooked", “mercenary", or “assassin" in Latin. The group mistakenly took “bravus" to mean “brave" in the ancient language.
On Thursday, chief executive Davis Boshoff announced the renaming, stating that the word meant “courageous", The Guardian reported. Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Boshoff said that the name was befitting of the company since it “took a lot of courage to get where we are and we will stand up for what we believe in."
Latin experts, however, beg to differ. Australia National University’s Dr Christopher Bishop explained that “bravus" did not mean “brave" in classical or medieval Latin. “It would have to be something like ‘fortis’, for brave, if you are going for your classical. You know, something like ‘fortuna favet fortibus – fortune favours the brave’. That’s a schoolboy thing – everyone knows that," Bishop was quoted as saying. Dr Juanita Feros Ruys of the University of Sydney confirmed the same.
“It is sort of a Monty Python-Latin. It is that classic joke where you chuck an ‘-us’ on to the end of anything and call it Latin," ,” Bishop told Guardian Australia. He added that “bravo" — meaning “mercenary", “assassin" or “sword for hire" — was the closest word to “bravus" in medieval Latin.
The Adani group probably would not want to associate with a word that has negative connotations, Bishop said, adding, “The closest Adani could get is it could have meant ‘boldness’. But it is a pretty militant boldness."
Another academic, Professor Tim Parkin from university of Melbourne, said that “bravus" means someone who is “villainous", a “crook", “bandit" or “cut-throat". He said that Adani should have “consulted a classics department rather than going to Google translate."
“It reminds me of one of my brothers wanting a name for his boat, and I came up with some wonderful classics names for it. And, in the end, I think he went for something like ‘boatus’," he joked.
Guardian cited an Oxford University Press article which stated that “bravus" could be derived either from the Latin word “pravus", which means bad or depraved; or from “barbarus" which means barbaric or uncouth.
“Even if it is not ‘barbarus’, it could be a mispronunciation of ‘pravus’. Ps, Bs and Fs always get mixed up – it could literally be ‘pravus’, which means ‘bad, crooked, depraved’. Maybe it is ‘barbarus’ plus ‘pravus’ – meaning a depraved barbarian," Bishop explained.
A spokeswoman for Adani/Bravus, however, insisted that the new name was “derived from the words ‘brave’ or ‘bold’.” “It includes the ‘us’ suffix, highlighting the inclusive nature of us the company, us the employees and us the community. It references the fact we are an Australian company by having the letters ‘AUS’ in the name. It signifies that we are proud to be an Australian company that is part of the North Queensland community," she was quoted as saying.
Boshoff, speaking to the AFR, said that the name would not be changed because it had “toxic" connotations, adding that if that were a factor, changes would have been made 18 months ago.
The Adani name change comes after the company rebranded its Abbot Point coal terminal to the North Queensland Export Terminal earlier this year. The Adani group had launched the Carmichael coal mine project in Australia’s Queensland in 2014.