A footnote buried deep within the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s 55-page ruling on the governor’s veto dispute with the Legislature highlighted another longstanding bone of contention.

What is sine die? What does it mean? How the heck do you pronounce it?
Sine die is Latin for the phrase “without a day.” It was mentioned frequently during written and oral arguments made by attorneys representing the Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage who argued about the various types of adjournment. It is largely a legislative term. Lawmakers love it, in part because sine die is essentially the last day of the legislative session, final adjournment. The finish line. Or transire linea.

How is it pronounced? Depends on who’s talking.

As the court noted in its footnote on page 10 of the ruling, Latin scholars pronounce the term “see-nay de-ay.” Maine lawmakers, however, have taken to pronouncing it “sigh-nay dye.” The reason that the court decided to delve into this obscure phonetic rabbit hole is unclear. As it noted, “We do not opine on the correct pronunciation.”

It’s worth mentioning, however, that Cynthia Montgomery, the governor’s legal counsel, offered a unique, if not unheard of, pronunciation during oral arguments held last Friday. Montgomery said, “sigh-nee dye,” causing a few observers to adopt quizzical expressions.

Perhaps her pronunciation was the impetus for the court’s interest.

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