If you still need some reasons to learn how to speak Latin other than show off at the local pub quiz night, here are a few:
- Learning any new language will improve your cognitive skills, and because Latin is an extinct language, more difficult to learn than your average romance language, it will most likely have even greater benefits on your learning capacities. It has been shown that the brain of bilingual (or multilingual) people works harder due to the fact that their brain is analysing a conversation, a movie, or a song in more than one language at once.
- Latin to English or English to Latin translations are a much better brain teaser than your average newspaper sudoku. Keep your brain young and flexible by practising this fun exercise regularly.
- Learning Latin will allow you to understand the origin of at least 60% of any English noun, verb or adjective. 30% of the English language is borrowed from the Roman native tongue while another 30% comes from the French language.
- Studying Latin is also a way to study some classical Latin texts, in their original language.
If you're learning Latin declensions, vocabulary and grammar rules, you might as well learn how to speak like a proper Roman, don't you think?
Is Latin Dead?
Latin is no longer part of the curriculum on U.K. schools. Only a few public (meaning private sector) schools and universities still offer Latin courses online. But up until the 1900's, anyone would go to university, albeit it was not that many people at the time, had to learn Latin. The language spoken by the Romans is declared officially extinct even if it still the official language of the Vatican and the Catholic Church. But glancing at the history of the language, it was roughly 2000 years ago that the Latin language was at his best. Why? Simply because the Romans had conquered every piece of land from Portugal in the West, to Irak in the East and from England to the North to Egypt in the South. Under the reign of Emperor Trajan, from 98AD to 117AD, the Roman Empire reached its maximum territorial extent. At that time Latin was spoken all over Britania (Great Britain), from Mancunium (Manchester) to Londinium (London). Can you guess how many Latin words populate our English language today? The language that was born in the Latium region of central Italy had spread as further as the legions of the Roman Empire marched. Romans make Latin the official language of any newly conquered land which resulted in two things:
- The administration of the Roman provinces was entirely run in Latin, and the Empire oversaw every political and civic aspect of the land.
- Schools throughout the Empire were taught in Latin.
Some Latin courses anyone can enrol in! Why did Latin die then? Well simply because the Roman Empire ended collapsing. In 476, the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, was deposed and historians agreed that it marked the end of the supremacy of the Roman Empire. From then on, institutions, administration and of course the lingua franca (common language) were taken over by the local tribes and ethnicities throughout the former provinces of the Empire. You can still learn how to write in Latin, though! One institution that survived to the Roman Empire was the Christian Church. Latin was still the only language used by Christian priests and monks and mass kept being celebrated in Latin until the 1960's in Catholic churches across the world. Even though vulgar Latin was still the common vernacular in most of what was to become England, the invasion of the Germanic Anglo-Saxon tribes introduced Old English and seem to have caused the extinction of Latin. It is also acknowledged by linguists and historians, that given the great distance of the Britannia province (the name for the Roman Empire province that became England) to Rome, the collapse of the Roman institutions and infrastructures along with the status and prestige of the Roman culture and civilisation was felt with an even greater impact. Unlike France or Spain, where romance languages (derived from Latin) took over the local idioms, the British Isles returned to those local languages. During the 15th century, the Renaissance movement reintroduces classic Latin texts, and the movement that started in Italy and France finally reached England 100 years later. At that time, many Latin words made their way into what was Middle English and as science developed, and universities across Europe start collaborating, Latin remains a common language for all scholars. That preference for Latin in the scientific fields will stay strong. Even Newton wrote his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica or Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy in Latin, in 1687. Follow these tips to write concisely in Latin! The text of the famous scientist was not translated into common English until 1728, more than 50 years later! This unification of Europe's researchers is the main reason why at least 90% of English scientific words come from Latin. From botany, anatomy, chemistry to medicine, Latin is all over your science textbooks!
Attend the Schola Latína Európæa & Úniversális
This international school holds Latin as a living heritage of humankind. For almost 15 years now, students have graduated from the Schola Latína Európæa & Úniversális where only classes about Latin are given. The course is based on Clément Desessard, Lingua Latina sine molestia (The Latin Language with no pain), an Assimil method. Desessard's method is based on a textbook which exists with the explanations about grammar and vocabulary given in French (Le latin sans peine), in Italian (Il latino senza sforzo) or in German (Latein ohne Mühe) but an English translation can be provided to English native speaker. This method is based on the use, listening and speaking of Latin and it is much like learning any modern language. This online school offers two different options, a leisurely one, to be completed in two academic years, and an intensive one, in one academic year. Teaching is delivered initially either in English or in Spanish, and eventually only in Latin. Their courses, with the title of Sermo Latinus, emphasises their active nature, are completely gratis (free of charge), and are addressed to all those who want to learn Latin. «I cannot repeat enough how this course has marvellously exceeded expectations [...] It has just been a great course and so enlightening! I have learned more specifically about the active use of the Latin language in this course than I did in all of graduate school. I found the sections on pronunciation and the coinage of neologisms throughout the long history of the Latin language to be particularly instructive and interesting.» (D. Griffinus, Latin teacher, completed SL I&II 2010-2011) To register just head to the Schola Latína Európæa & Úniversális website. A new class cycle starts every September.
Follow a Seminar at the Latinitati Vivae Provehendae Associatio e.V.
If you wish to start chatting like a proper Roman you will need to make sure that you master the in and out of the Latin language properly. That's why you should consider the LVPA. On their website you will find many seminars, taking place all around the world, where students meet and exchange only using Latin. The website is entirely in Latin, which will force you to practice your reading. Under the Nuntii (News) you will find all the details of the next seminars. And if you read the news in Latin that is also possible. Take a look at the Nuntii Latini website which offers international news articles but also a radio station to listen to the new in Latin. Listen to this radio daily and you will surely be fluent in no time. You may want to unlock the mysteries of the Latin alphabet...
Join the Societas Circulorum Latinum
Far from being a cult, this association has for main objective to get all Latin speakers in touch with each other. This Society is divided into local branches and The Circulus Latínus Londiniénsis (London Latin Circle) gathers all kind of people living in or near London. No need to be an expert as even beginners can join. The London circle meets once a month on the second Monday of each month. Their website is also only in Latin (except for the home page which has an English version) but you can write to their email address in English if you wish so. Joining such a circle is certainly a good way to meet Latin fluent speakers and these Latin enthusiasts will be more than happy to help you in your apprenticeship of Latin. Chatting in Latin is not any crazier than learning Klingon or Dothraki. Now pick up Superprof's complete guide to learning Latin...
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