Many people in the modern world think that Latin is already a dead language; by “dead”, they mean “impractical” or “useless” because no one uses it. Latin as a dead language simply means that it no longer has any native speaker.
However, such a contention is not true. Today, Latin is still used in religious sectors. In fact, it’s the language used by the Pope to hold Masses in Vatican City.
Furthermore, due to the rising availability of online classes for Latin, there’s also a growing community of Latin enthusiasts across the world. Although Latin no longer evolves like modern languages do, it still lives in the words humans speak—in both obvious and subtle ways.
The Way Latin Lives On
Latin was the language that influenced the spread of power in Ancient Rome. These days, it’s no longer the language of common folks in any part of the world, so, in that sense, it’s easy to dismiss it as something that’s not worth learning anymore. But, given how a vast majority of today’s languages are rooted in Latin in one way or another, it’s definitely worth engaging in.
Listed below are five reasons why Latin, though technically “dead”, is still very much alive and breathing:
- Latin Is An Integral Part Of The Literary World
Shakespeare’s plays, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Machiavelli’s Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy, and Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier wouldn’t have turned out the way they have if it weren’t for the Latin pioneers of literature (e.g. Virgil’s Aeneid, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Cicero’s De Oratore, Ovid’s Metamorphoses).
Hence, literature, as people know it today, was mainly inspired by and evolved from Latin.
- Latin Serves As The Foundation Of Many Academic Concepts
If you are considering learning a new language, going for Latin is actually a good investment, especially if you’ll be pursuing higher studies. Notice how in elementary-level and high-school level science, most of the terms have their roots in either the Latin or Greek language?
As you go into more advanced fields and levels of study, you’re bound to encounter Latin over and over again, even if it isn’t immediately apparent.
- Latin Is The Language Of Lawyers And Doctors
No, lawyers and doctors don’t speak Latin to each other the way people in Vatican do, but most of their jargon have retained their Latin forms. For example, bones and muscles in the human body typically have Latin names (e.g. latissimus dorsi for the largest muscle in the upper body, calcaneus for the heel bone).
Law is another field in which Latin is very rampant. And, it isn’t only because it uses Latin jargon, like ex post facto, habeas corpus, or amicus curiae. Even common English words like “jury” have Latin roots (e.g. jurare, meaning “swear”).
- Latin Lives In The Modern Romance Languages
The Romance languages, also referred to as Neo-Latin languages, are European languages that spawned from Vulgar Latin. The most widely-spoken Romance languages include Spanish, French, Portuguese, Romanian, and Italian.
Most of their words, rules, and sentence constructions were derived from Latin. Though learning them isn’t exactly the same as learning Latin, studying them will give you an idea what Latin is like as a language.
- Latin Is In Humanity’s Everyday Lives
What do the words “circumstance”, “fracture”, “multiple”, “aquarium”, “rejection”, “mortal”, “destruction”, “prescribe”, and “inspect” have in common? If you’re going to look at these from the lens of English language, you probably won’t be able to determine what binds them together. When you study Latin, on the other hand, one look at them will let you know that they all have Latin prefixes or suffixes.
That’s just for the English language. Certainly, Latin works in similar ways in other languages, as well. You don’t need to be in specialized fields to encounter Latin; it’s right there in your everyday vocabulary.
Latin Expands Your General Understanding Of Language Usage And Structures
Latin may be the most regularly-structured language to have ever been used by humans. Even if it initially seems complicated because of its grammar rules, once you finally get it, it will become easier for you to learn any other language.
For instance, when studying any modern language, having studied Latin can help you figure out a word’s meaning before it’s even defined to you. You’ll also have an easier time figuring out how exactly its grammar works.
Latin certainly isn’t dead in its purest sense. In fact, it helps make sense of many terms in the modern world. That said, it’s a cool language to work with—one that can broaden your general understanding of the world you’re currently living in.