Why Study Latin?

Friends of the Western tradition are (or ought to be) friends of the Latin language as well. One of the  curricular victories my humanities colleagues and I have been able to achieve at Faulkner is the introduction of Latin courses that are recommended for all Liberal Arts majors and required for majors in the pre-med track.

Naturally, those not as plugged into the Western tradition as they could be often have a hard time understanding why anyone today should bother studying Latin. Several publishers (e.g., Memoria Press) and other classically oriented organizations have produced apologias of varying quality for Latin. Here is a decent one I came across this week from the Department of Foreign Languages at CSU-Sacramento. Utilitarians take note: studying Latin will make you a better English speaker and reader. It will also make you taller, slimmer, and better-looking!

I have a publisher’s deadline today; that’s why I haven’t posted much new material this week. I hope to get back to a daily schedule of postings next week.

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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3 Responses to Why Study Latin?

  1. jeff kreh says:

    I keep hearing from my upper-school students, who imagine themselves eloquent, “Latin is a dead language.” Of course, they demonstrate no ability to consider one can learn from the dead… But more to the point, calling Latin “dead” doesn’t mean it lacks value. I prefer to think of the “dead” languages like Latin and Greek as “frozen.”

    English and other languages have tended to degrade over time, losing their ability to nourish the soul due to the mutations of decomposition and misuse. But Latin and Greek are frozen and only need be discovered by learners willing to invest the time and energy necessary to thaw and gnaw on the rich and amazingly fresh insights tucked away in masterful writings that have survived the test of time.

    Latin isn’t “dead”…it’s just been cryogenically preserved, like Walt Disney, until such time as the world develops the wisdom to embrace the challenge that is Latin. Unlike Walt, I’m not holding my breath…

  2. I can’t read this without thinking of the movie “Rushmore.”
    “I saved Latin. What did you do?”

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