‘Why I study Latin’

Latin is worth studying, writes Zeke Coady, a 15-year-old student in Sydney, Australia. “It’s fun.”

The thing that makes Latin intriguing is that it is not used any more. Studying it is like looking through a museum of language, seeing what parts of language we didn’t want or need, and what parts we’ve kept for more than 2000 years. And then if you take Latin and change some other things, changing different words and adding some grammar, you get an entirely different language, such as Italian. Latin is the common ancestor here; Latin lets us look at Italian, and instead of seeing an entirely different language, we see that it just followed a different path from the common root.

Zeke  knows his Latin studies probably won’t help him find a job. He chose Latin — and ancient Greek — over economics “because I think it’s enjoyable just to learn for the sake of learning.”

Via Norm Geras.

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  1. Crimson Wife says:

    I had thought my oldest would really like Latin as she’s strongest verbally, but she has zero interest. We’ve compromised by having her just learn the Latin roots rather than the full language. She wants to study Spanish, so she’ll be starting that this coming spring.

    My “mathy” child is the one who absolutely LOVES Latin. I totally didn’t expect that, but I’m glad that at least one of my kids wants to study it.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      My oldest (11th grade) is taking his 3rd year of Latin. I was surprised that he choose to continue on after the required second year of language was completed. His school offers a 4th year, so its an option next year as well. Even though he finds it difficult (he’s dyslexic) he enjoys the text and likes his teacher.

      I’m hoping he gets some long term benefit from it – not sure if that’s realistic, though.

      • Deirdre Mundy says:

        I majored in Latin and Greek in college. It’s actually helped me land jobs because people see that on your resume and thing “Hmmm… she must be smart, logical, and diligent.” So the dead languages act as a useful social signaling tool–especially since the person hiring thinks “Latin? I could never learn that!” (Untrue, but that’s the reputation it has.)

        So yes, Latin does come in handy. I mean, it’s fun too, and it’s great for keeping your mind fresh long after you leave school, but from a career standpoint, the biggest plus is the signaling.

        My husband has also gotten jobs entirely based on “Classics? You must be really smart!”

    • Can you recommend the book you are using for Latin roots etc? My eldest grandkids could use that in the next couple of years.

      • Crimson Wife says:

        We have used Michael Clay Thompson’s “Caesar’s English” vocabulary program (odd chapters teach roots) and “Red Hot Root Words” from Prufrock Press.

      • We’re using Vocabulary from Classical Roots this year with my 2nd grader (I think the first book in the series is aimed at late elementary/middle school). I don’t know if we’ll go on to actually learn Latin, but knowing the roots has helped his understanding of new words and his spelling.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      Actually, Latin and Greek have a lot in common with computer programming– their structure, their logic, etc. really appeal to math and computer types. Translating a complicated page of prose is like working out a puzzle.

      And composition? A lot like programming, especially with the idea of aiming for elegant rather than ‘does the job.’

  2. Ann in L.A. says:

    Our oldest loves Latin…and math…and computer programming. I certainly see the similarities. I was always a terrible speller and hated it, but I had a mathy friend who said he loved learning to spell because it was like little puzzles you had to fit together. I think complex grammar is the same way.

    I enjoyed learning Ancient Greek, though it could drive me crazy. One time I had translated every word on the page, had an English translation open in front of me, and I still couldn’t figure out why it was saying what the translation said it was saying. It was definitely a complex puzzle-solving task.