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The Pope’s Latin Tweets Soar! Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Latin Language

Some people say that Latin is a “dead” language, and you can hear my not-so sarcastic thoughts on that subject (here) in a post titled “If Latin is a dead language, Do zombies speak it?”

A generated meme created at Philosoraptor

A generated meme created at Philosoraptor

However, the trends of social media would prove that it is anything BUT dead! Facebook even offers the option to allow you to change your language to Latin! You can check out how to take the Latin Facebook Challenge: here.

Use Latin on Facebook! Like a Boss!

Use Latin on Facebook! Like a Boss!

Furthermore, I must hand it to Pope Francis for not deterring away from Latin too much. Late last year, I was highly disappointed in his decision to have Latin replaced by Italian as the Vatican synod’s official language. You can read more about this shift in tradition: here.

Pope Francis in August 2014. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Stemoc.

Pope Francis in August 2014. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Stemoc.

However,  Pope Francis’ twitter account in Latin has been a huge success with over 326,000 followers (as of 2/18/2015), which is more than those following papal tweets in German or Arabic. A link to Pope’s Francis Twitter Page (here). His homepage originally read “Welcome to the official Twitter page of His Holiness Pope Francis.” However for this Latin language page, it reads “Tuus adventus in paginam Papae Francisci breviloquentis optatissimus est.” How awesome is that!

So, I had to ask myself-who exactly is reading this. It is Latinists, Latin enthusiasts, interested and curious people? Daniel Gallagher, an expert in the language and member of the team in charge of translating and posting the pope’s tweets, said “We have every reason to think that many are young students, from universities, schools or even younger and that some use the tweets as homework, setting out to translate them.” He followed with saying “Others are journalists, lawyers, or people nostalgic for the Latin lessons of their youth, who get a kick out of translating a Francis phrase a day. Some get so involved that they reply to the pope’s tweets in Latin.”

This made me think, what an amazing way to practice Latin everyday! I would highly encourage it for anyone wanting to explore their Latin in a real-time and present circumstance.

Although Gallagher offers me another solution to “who is following these Latin tweets;” I was unsure if I truly believed that ALL 326,000 followers were Latin students of one sort or another. I mean, 326,000 does not sound like a population of a dead language. Albeit, Gallagher addresses this saying “Some follow the pope in Latin because it’s a way to create a group. They enjoy belonging to an unusual community, with its own code. If you are able to translate it, you are accepted into the club.”

Ah!

So, Latin is now a elitism hipster movement? So does that mean it making a comeback?  I am not really sure. I hope so.

Well, if you are not following the Pope- I would recommend it for the daily practice!

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About the Author: Brittany Britanniae

Hello There! Please feel free to ask me anything about Latin Grammar, Syntax, or the Ancient World.


Comments:

  1. Robert Deprez:

    Among the Latin pope’s tweets followers is a certain Accius, a very gifted Japanese latinist who adapts every single tweet in
    Latin verses. A must!

  2. Ari Espinoza:

    Well, I do *hate* to be that guy who shamelessly plugs sites in comments, but bear with me, because it is very related. If you want a dose of Mars with the world’s only science feed in Latin, BeautifulMars Latin is the place to go: beautifulmars-latin.tumblr.com, @HiRISELatin and a version of the main site in Latin: uahirise.org/la. These are high resolution images of Mars taken by HiRISE, a camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (uahirise.org). It’s Latin in a totally unexpected context: planetary science!

    • Brittany Britanniae:

      @Ari Espinoza I briefly worked on translations when the site was started.

  3. Spurius Minucius:

    As a matter of fact, there are a bunch of us that write in Twitter in Latin, like @SpuriusM, @Vallensis, @CASFidelis, @dodecafonia, @Meletuslatinist, @latin_greek, @Beatusmagister, @NemoOudeis and others!

    Enim aliqui nos Latine scribimus in Twitter, sicut @SpuriusM, @Vallensis, @CASFidelis, @dodecafonia, @Meletuslatinist, @latin_greek, @Beatusmagister, @NemoOudeis et alii!