Thursday, December 1, 2011

(From "Random Reflections") Latin: The Un-dead Language

           In the midst of my desperate brainstorming, trying to think of a semi-interesting new post topic for this week, I was presented with a sudden idea by one of my dear teachers. Much to the dismay of many of my school friends, I share with you a persuasive essay that I wrote two years ago for a composition class. I also gave this essay as a speech, presenting it to my class at the end of the school year. It is entitled, "The Importance of Studying Latin."


The Importance of Studying Latin
            Contrary to common opinion, Latin is not a dead language. If it was, why would anyone study it? Latin can be found in many places, like science, languages, history, Christianity, and so much more. For you biologists, doesn’t practically every living thing have a Latin name? Or think about the popes—all of the encyclicals they write have a Latin title accompanied by an English title. Thousands of words from various languages are derivatives of Latin vocabulary. Although no one actually speaks it anymore, Latin, my friends, is anything but a dead language.
            Latin can greatly aid in the expansion of your English vocabulary as well as that of other languages. In fact, take the word language—it is derived from the Latin word lingua, meaning language. Other derivatives of that word are lingual and linguistic. They all sound very similar, don’t they? In the light of other languages, if you were to say “I love you” in Spanish, you would say “Amo te.” How would you say it in Latin? “Amo te!” Even as a person who speaks only English, I am able to recognize words from other languages, especially Spanish and French, simply because of my knowledge of Latin.
            Not only is Latin helpful in regard to vocabulary, but it also greatly helps with education at large. An excerpt from the National Review reads, “I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this not because Latin is traditional and medieval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least 50 percent.” So when you ask, “How is Latin going to help me in my life?” remind yourself of this quote. The reason Latin makes learning other subjects so much easier is simply because it is in almost any other subject! In taxonomy, everything has a Latin name as well as an English name. History is teeming with Latin—think of the Romans or the people of the medieval age. Latin is in literature, philosophy, logic, music, not to mention grammar—it’s everywhere!
            If you were to go to Mass in a foreign country, it is likely that many parts of the Mass would be said in Latin. Why? Because Latin is one language that is known and understood by people of many tongues; those from countries all over the world gathering for a Mass can all pray together and understand each other. The reason for that is Latin is rooted in our Catholic faith. The popes give the Latin title of their encyclicals as well as the English title. Masses used to be prayed entirely in Latin, and some still are. This beautiful language plays, and has played, a large role in our faith.
            While some of you may be groaning as I speak and thinking up rebuttal arguments against my evidence (you logicians), there is no denying the fact that Latin is immensely important. It is the basis of numerous languages that exist in the world, it is rooted in practically any topic there is to study, it plays an essential part in the Catholic faith—none of us can just throw it out the window! Latin is an amazing language in many ways, and, if you keep an open mind about it, it can also be great fun.
            Gratias vobis ago quod meum sermonem diligenter audivistis.  Scio propter eum vos omnes nunc Latinam vehementer amare.  Aestatem bellissimam habete—quattuor menses Latinae discendae!  Gratias et valete omnes.*
*Translation: I give thanks to you all for having listened intently to my speech. I know that because of it you all now love Latin greatly. Have a blessed summer - four months to study Latin! Thank you and farewell, all. 

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