There are many reasons why people think that you should learn Latin; and you may have heard all of them. Learn Latin because it increases your SAT score, learn it because it makes you think logically, learn it if you want to read Vergil, take Latin because it is a challenge, etc. While all of these reasons are good, I will be telling you as a Latin scholar why I personally think you should learn this language. Keep in mind that as with any other skill/language out there, it takes hard work to become perfect at something.
Whether you are going to take Latin in your school, college, or elsewhere, you will find that your average classmates are very focused. What do I mean by this? No one (or very little) people are going to take Latin to impress a girl, easily earn a language credit, or ever speak the language with others. Many people promote Latin as a hard language and that tends to weed out the slackers. Your teachers and classmates are taking the language to achieve language perfection, and not for any other reasons. For that matter everyone taking the class is there to learn, so the atmosphere is easy going. Being in a Latin class feels more like a hobby rather than learning.
Improve Your English
Although many argue that reading more in general can improve your English as much as the Latin language can; the fact is that Latin students usually score higher on their SAT. In the process of learning Latin you will learn more about the mechanics of your native language. When translating into or from Latin you have to understand cases, tenses, declensions, infinitives, prepositions and more. Although most English speakers understand their own language, they arenâ??t really masters of it. Latin will make you a master of your native language.
It Goes Both Ways
Depending who you ask, up to 60% of the English vocabulary derives from Latin. If you asked my Latin 1 teacher he would tell you that over 60% of the English vocabulary is derived from Latin; and I would agree with that number. The actual number can be debated. Take a look at some of these words from the Latin language:
Now these words are really easy to find out the meanings of without ever knowing any Latin. When you are learning the Latin language you will be able toÂ recognizeÂ words from your English vocabulary. The amazing part is that after a while of learning Latin words you will also be able to identify/explain unknown English words from your Latin vocabulary.
- Albino, albumen, albumin
- Axial, axile
- Impersonal, impersonate, parson, parsonage, personage, personal, personality, personally, personification, personify, personnel
- Exbunerance, exuberant
- Ultimate, ultimatum, ultraviolet
These are just some of the words that derive from the Latin vocabulary. Looking at this small list you can hopefully understand that Latin will aid you in your English.
I was lucky when I started learning Latin because I already knew Romanian, a Romance language, and English. I was able toÂ recognizeÂ twice as many words as my classmates due to this fact.
Paves The Way For Learning Other Languages
While learning Latin you will expand the unknown vocabulary you can identify. If you learn the Latin language first, it will make it really easy for you to learn other Romance languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, and many others. Not only will you be identifying derived words but the grammar will also be similar.
The best part is that learning another language will only add to your vocabulary, making it even easier to pick up another language. For example, right now I know Romanian, English, and Latin. Do you think it will be a challenge for me to learn French? It won’t be, so that’s why I am taking it in the future 🙂
If you plan on learning multiple Romance languages, then having a foundation in Latin will give you anÂ upper hand.
Latin is Fun
Although many people may not actually enjoy a language so much that it becomes fun for them, it will make you happy when you recongize English words that baffle your friends. Learn Latin -> Improve Vocabulary -> Master English -> Outsmart your friends -> Have fun.
Learn Roman History
Although you can learn about Roman history without understanding Latin, learning the history and language will be an added bonus. You will be able to understand Roman culture and myths better if you also understand their language. If you decide to continue your Latin studying you will eventually be able to directly read historic texts.
Gives You an Edge
As youâ??ve read above, Latin really builds your vocabulary, understanding of your native language, and helps pave the way for learning other languages. If you are going to enter the medical field then Latin is a must. Â On Cambridgeâ??s medical school preparation they list having at least 2 years of Latin as one of the most important things you can do to prepare. Then the second thing you can do to prepare is to take a course in Greek and Latin roots in medical terminology. So you why doesnâ??t Cambridge just recommend you learn only the medical related Latin vocabulary? The reason is because Latin gives you an edge. Consider you are a doctor and you see â??Non compos mentisâ? in a legal document. You could look confused and have no idea what it means; or if you knew Latin you would understand it to mean â??Not of sound mind.â? Although you may not need the Latin language, it will still make you knowledge in unknown vocabulary.
Imagine if you are speaking to a member from the Cambridge staff that can easily get you into the school. He asks you what does optimates mean? He also goes on to say that it is the domain name they use for one of their websites (it is). Now if you know Latin, which you should if you are going into medicine, you can respond that it means “best men” and that this group made up a majority of the late Roman republic.Â If you only knew the medical Latin roots, or didn’t know Latin at all, you would not make a good impression of yourself in this situation.
A Tool More Than a Language
Nowadays it is impractical to speak Latin. You might speak Latin with your friend for fun, or you might speak Latin in a classical church. That is about it when it comes to speaking the language. If you arenâ??t a Latin fanatic you wonâ??t compose Latin writing, and if you arenâ??t a history fanatic you wonâ??t read Roman history written in Latin. So what does that make this language? It makes it a powerful tool. Although Latin isnâ??t used for communication anymore, it is still important. The Latin language is a gateway into mastering your native language and a tool that will help you on your future endeavors.
Article written byÂ Octavian Ristea.