Is There Any Advantage to Learning Latin? Posted by Brittany Britanniae on Jul 24, 2013 in Latin Language
I hope everyone had a safe weekend and is eager to read a discussion of Latin’s validity and future in modern society. There is much debate over the teaching and learning of Latin due to the language’s “supposed” uselessness. The fact that Latin has been categorized as a dead language ( which is defined as: “A language no longer in everyday use by a native population”) has often been a negative point in these debates. It has even lead to the British Museum hosting the academic debate earlier this summer: Does Latin have a Future? So, the question must be posed “Is there any advantage to learning a dead language?”
Although, Latin is defined as a dead language due to the fact that is has no native population; it could be argued that the Vatican’s population and academics are Latin’s unconventional native population. Since Latin is spoken, taught, analyzed, and used almost everyday amongst these communities. Regardless if Latin being spoken by 3 people or 3 million people, it is a language to be admired, esteemed, and prized.
So, is there a point to learning a dead language? The BBC did the following survey:
While this survey of Latin’s validity seems to be mixed for the modern day person; beyond a doubt Latin’s prevalence within our society can be seen in phrases such as: “per se,” “carpe diem,” “pro bono,” “et cetera,” and “ergo.” These are all Latin terms that people use everyday without even considering that they are speaking a dead language. Even more astonishing is the fact that most currency has Latin on it which goes unnoticed!
USELESSNESS & UFEFULNESS OF LATIN:
One key argument against Latin’s validity and usefulness in modern day society is: “How can it better an individual within modern society?” Since, Latin is not taught in every school, it is not a requirement for 95% of schools or occupations, and it is so obscure and removed from society; it is considered outdated and antediluvian. Donald Clark posted the following in his blog regarding Latin: 10 Reasons to NOT teach Latin.
Clark’s points seem to argue a negative perspective on aspects that have been proven otherwise on Latin’s resourcefulness: Helping you learn other languages, grammar, cognitive skills, et cetera (Latin for “and the rest”). Moreover, Latin roots are used in everyday words and assist in learning new words with similar roots. Also, Latin has been proved to assist in increasing vocabulary as in this Iowa Study that saw a grade level improvement with middle school students who studied Latin for twenty minute daily sessions. And one more pro to learning Latin would have to be understanding Harry Potter spells:
How popular would you consider Facebook? I would argue that Facebook is one of the most used and popular social media sites. Facebook allows their users to use whatever language for their Facebook format…even Latin! So,do you have a Facebook account? Well, I dare you today to make a 24 hour commitment to change your language from English to Latin. Although it does not change everything from English to Latin, it is enough of a change that you notice differences, are able to understand some Latin, and increase your cognitive ability. Go ahead try it and become a “Dominus!” Also, give Latin Becomes a Living Language a read on Latin Lingua on Facebook.
There are plenty of articles that recommend Latin for various reasons: Why Study Latin? However, I firmly believe that if you have the drive and passion to learn any language that you should pursue it. This passion and drive can be seen amongst the National Junior Classical League students who met for their annual competition. These students clearly LOVE Latin. There is something unique with learning Latin, since I have never seen student this excited for modern or “alive” languages. A video of the NJCL students can be see here.
Learning a new language at any point in life is great for your brain! In conclusion, I recommend Transparent Language which offers some fine resources and products to learning a language in addition to their resourceful language blogs.
On my last note, I have covered so far some basics on Latin in the modern world from media resources to it’s validity. So, if anyone would like a discussion on a particular topics please comment, but if not I look forward to writing on a wide array of topics translating texts and artifacts from Ancient Roman Society.