5 Reasons For My Excitement For Learning Latin
Last year, I took Ancient Greek. This year, I am taking Latin. Although fewer people have been surprised to learn that I am taking Latin than were surprised by my decision to learn Greek, many people still ask me why I would pick it, of all languages, to study. There are essentially five reasons for my decision to learn Latin. Here they are:
1. Increased Understanding of English
English is a diverse language, and a large portion of that diversity has come about because English is a borrowing-language. We’ve taken words from Latin, Greek, German, and French, among other languages. For example, throne, chair, and stool are all words that originally meant the same thing, and aren’t English words. The word “throne” was borrowed from the Greek word “θρονος” (thronos), the word “chair” was borrowed from the Old French word “chaiere,” which was borrowed from the Latin word “cathedra,” which was borrowed from the Greek word “καθέδρα” (kathedra), and the word “stool” was borrowed from the Proto-Germanic word “stolaz.”
Seeing how words have been borrowed, and knowing their Latin meanings, will be a useful tool for unlocking the English language. As I transition into college over the next couple of years, I believe that having a broad vocabulary and a full mastery of the English language will be very valuable. Latin will definitely be an excellent tool for doing this, I am sure.
2. Greater Exposure to Western Culture
We live in a Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman world. Our culture has been extremely influenced by both mindsets, and they have become very commingled. Ever since the Vulgate, Latin and Christianity have been intermixed. Of course, the Roman world also has much in art, philosophy, and science which we can learn from. I hope to glean some of that culture through my study of the Latin language.
3. Better Grasp of History
The Romans left an indelible mark upon the history of the world. We would not be where we are today if they had not done the things that they did. Learning from their successes and failures can help us understand government, economics, geopolitics, and everything to which they can be applied. As I read Roman literature, I hope to learn more of the events that shaped their rise and fall.
4. Access to Other Languages
Many languages are descended from Latin, more specifically, a dialect of Latin known as Vulgar Latin. For example, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian all came from Vulgar Latin. Although knowing Latin won’t magically teach me all of these other languages, being familiar with the roots will help me.
5. Enhanced Cognitive Abilities
Although this point could really be several, it sums up a lot of the research on the topic. Studies have found that multilingualism increases memory, builds multitasking skills, develops perception, improves decision making skills, and, as I have already discussed, builds language skills, including grammar and vocabulary. An article that sums up much of the research can be found here.
I am excited to learn Latin. I think that it will benefit me in many ways, and I cannot wait to see the fruits of my labor. Ad meliora!