For some reason (probably my fascination with Ancient Rome) I feel like learning Latin. Then I think to myself, “Why learn a dead language when I could spend the same time learning Italian or something that I could use to actually communicate with other people?” Can anyone who can speak Latin comment on satisfaction levels?
I don’t think you will find too many people who can actually speak Latin since, as you observed, it is not used as a from of spoken communication anymore. However, speaking as someone who studied Latin in both high school and college and whose BA senior thesis was a Latin-to-English translation of sermons by Alain de Lille, a 12th century theologian and teacher, I can say that the study of Latin does confer sopme benefits.
For one thing, it helps with learning the etymology of many Latinate English words and can make it easier to figure out the meanings of new and unfamiliar English words. Second, it can help you learn Romance languages like French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian, whose grammar and vocabular are directly descended from Latin. Moreover, there is the pleasure of being able to read Latin authors like Plautus, Terence, and Martial in the original.
Latin’s tricky, but it helped me pick up Spanish like it was nothing. After spending four years memorizing tons of verb forms and noun endings, Spanish seemed like child’s play. It’s good for SAT words, too, if you’re in that stage of life. All in all, it’s a fun language to learn if you’re into thinking about words and their origins.
Hm. I’ve taken Latin for four years now, and it’s always been pretty interesting. We don’t speak Latin in class (well, the teacher does, and we understand her, but we don’t speak it back at her or to each other), and we focus more on translation than communication, which is what I think most Latin classes would be about. You know, seeing as Latin is a dead language and all.
Also, if you don’t like memorizing things, Latin is probably not the best choice. You just have to know some of the endings, because they don’t really have a logical order.
I don’t know Latin, but speaking as a reader of Anglo-Saxon, I say go for it. There’s no satisfaction like that of knowing a dead language. The more obscure the knowledge, the less likely it will ever be of practical value, the greater it warms the heart with pride.
I learned more English grammar by studying Latin than I had in any English class. Go for it.
Yes. Learning Latin can help immensely with your understanding of English. It can also be a good foundation for learning Spanish, Italian, and German. (While not a romance language, German uses cases like Latin does. If you know Latin cases, learning German cases is a walk in the park.)
If you want to learn to communicate in a particular language, it only makes sense to choose a currently-spoken tongue. If you want to learn about language as a whole, Latin is arguably the best choice.
I think that learning Latin is worth it for all the reasons listed above, plus, I just think it’s fun.
I studied it for three quarters and I’m glad I did. It will help you understand related languages, aid you in impressing your friends, and it’s, well, cool.
Ooh, Baker’s right! I was just mentioning that to my dad today.
Esyay. Ouyay ouldshay earnlay Atlinlay.
I took Latin all through high school. Although I’ve never found a single practical use for it, it’s pretty cool, I enjoyed it and would recommend it. And if you’re interested in ancient Rome, then by all means pick it up.
If you’re in a high school that offers the AP Latin classes, take them - they’re mostly you translating poetry, and they’re great.
The obvious downside to learning Latin is that several of your friends and relatives will shower you with Latin-related kitsch - I have THREE t-shirts that say “If you can read this, you’re too educated” in Latin, all given to me as either Christmas or birthday presents from relatives. And that’s just the beginning.
You know what the single coolest thing about knowing Latin is, the thing that I use Latin for as much as every other application combined?
Coming up with fun names for things.
I get a real thrill out of labelling my filing cabinet “Locus Rebus” (The Place for Stuff). I gave the constellations made from sticky stars on my ceiling actual Latin names. My favorite is the GRE prep course I ran, called the Antepericlum (Before the Test). Things seem to be so much more legitimate when they have a Latin name.
It’s in some ways a PITA to learn, but very little improves one’s ability to think clearly as much as learning how to express one’s thoughts in another language – particularly one with a variety of structural nuances only partially shared with English. This used to be a classical (no pun intended) reason for teaching Latin, and it was my experience that it helped immensely in clarifying my ability to think things through, back in the late Pleistocene when I finished high school.
I think that’s the exact reason why I want to learn it as well.
NO! Don’t. It is horrible… I tried…
What gobear said, only more enthusiastically.
Henry Beard discovered this very principle himself when he wrote Latin for All Occasions and Latin for Even More Occasions.
“Cheese Whiz” sounds so much more impressive when you call it “Caseus Velox”.
Go for it. I am a poor student of Latin and I have been stuggling for many years, but I still enjoy it. As a re-enactor of Roman times I get the chance hear and speak Latin. Latin grammar is quite alien to speakers of English, this does make Latin both hard to learn and quite facinating.