The Benefits of Studying Latin

Latin is like a tree: from it springs its roots, all of which are other languages, across the globe.

      For me Latin was a subject that I never imagined myself participating in. At the beginning of the school year, Latin seemed so foreign to me and somewhat intimidating. Although, looking back to earlier this year I had no reason to be fearful. Instead, Latin has taught me to apply enhanced vocabulary to my work and has also allowed me to further understand the English language. Latin is not only a language. It has an impact in the world today, and behind it is a  culture that inspires many present ideas. – Olivia Lipson 

         From the second I saw Latin on my schedule, I was excited. But I’d watched my classmates in Spain learn English and knew it was going to be a challenge. It wasn’t until the fourth class that I realized that this was something I was going to want to do throughout high school, and maybe — just maybe — in college. There’s something fascinating about understanding a language so ancient!  As a Spanish-speaking person, I am constantly noticing similarities between Spanish and other Romance languages. It’s small things, like being able to get the gist of a clothing tag that’s in Italian or reading off the back of a Portuguese cereal box. Most languages have a lot of vocabulary in common — yes, even ones drastically different from each other like French and Romanian. And it’s all thanks to (you guessed it) Latin! – Raquel Del Rio Vicario 

        Latin is a dead language originating from Ancient Rome, a civilization that lasted over two millennia and spanned three continents. Everyone either knew it or learned it, even after the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire. Centuries later, the Latin language had evolved into dialects which would later form many modern-day languages and influence those of other language families. That is why there is so much lexical similarity between those that seem so different. For example, here’s ‘good morning’ in four Romance languages: Portuguese: bom dia—Spanish: buenos días—French: bon matin—Italian: buongiorno. These all derive from the Latin word bonus, or good. Latin is also used very often in the scientific and medical fields. It is a base for all things! If you learn Latin, the rest of Romance languages (which are many) will come incredibly naturally to you, should you choose to pursue the study of one.

In the centuries after the fall of Western Rome, the formal Latin used by scholars early on in the Republic had become less widespread than colloquial Latin, called Vulgar Latin. This was what was spoken by everyday citizens of the Empire, and is from where the dialects which later sprung into modern-day languages come from. The Vulgar Latin spoken in Hispānia turned into Spanish, the Vulgar Latin in Gallia into French, etc. Many of these languages also had influence from northern Germanic tribes, creating a beautiful blend of both tongues into ones such as English.

Not only is Latin a beautiful language that has inspired the ideas of so many others. Despite being a dormant language, it once thousands of years ago was as vibrant as the sun. Latin was the very basis for Roman culture — a description of the stunning mind as the Roman world as a whole.  The language was how philosophers like Cicero documented and expressed their ideas and revelations. Without the language of Latin the Roman Empire would not have been able to share its animated philosophies, galvanic inventions and ideas, and provided the spark for thousands of languages to come. Despite the Roman Empire falling and the death of Latin as a spoken language, the language’s legacy still lives on in millions of words across numerous languages. 

The Roman culture  in itself is the basis for many ideas to this day. The inventions that were created during the time before the Fall of the Roman Empire improved the world we currently dwell in include: Architectural Advancements (Arches, Roads, Sewers, Aqueducts, Grid Based Cities), Roman Numerals, Surgical Techniques and Tools, the Julian Calendar (basis for our calendar), the idea of Democracy,  and many more inspiring ideas and technological advancements. Without the language of Latin, these ideas would not have been able to document for others to read in the future. Therefore a world without Latin is a world distinctly different than the world we live in today. 

Olivia Lipson ‘25, Staff Writer and Raquel Del Rio ‘25, Contributing Writer &