Latin may be a dead language, but that doesn’t stop people from learning it. Even though no one speaks Latin anymore, except for a few really passionate people, Latin can be a great language to know. Here are four reasons why it’s a good idea to learn Latin.
You Can Read Old Texts in the Original Language
Learning Latin opens up a whole new world of stories and texts. If you learn Latin you’ll be able to read a lot of the foundational works of Western culture. So much of Western culture is based around Roman stories that even Shakespeare drew material from them.
You’ll be able to read poetry like Virgil’s Aeneid and Georgics, Ovid’s Metamorphoses. You will also be able to conquer speeches by great orators like Cicero, Caesar’s original letters detailing his military exploits in Gaul, and religious works like Augustine’s Confessions, all in their original language.
By reading these works in the original language, you’ll be better able to understand the nuances that even the best translations fail to convey at times. You’ll also be in a better position to appreciate the brilliance of the authors. Poets writing thousands of lines in dactylic hexameter to create a cohesive story is no small feat. If reading these types of things intrigues you, learning the language is definitely worth the effort.
You Will Understand Grammar Better
When you learn Latin, you actually end up learning a lot about English too. Latin is an inflected language. This means that nouns and adjectives take on different forms that change depending on the word’s role in the sentence.
For example, compare the sentences “puer amat puellam” (the boy loves the girl) and “puella amat puerum” (the girl loves the boy). The words for boy and girl (puer and puella) have changed their forms from the first sentence to the second because their grammatical function is different in each sentence. In the first sentence, boy is the subject and girl is the object while the opposite is true for the second. Each of these forms is called a case, and each case has its own set of grammatical functions.
Latin has seven cases in total, and all of these cases force you to constantly think about how each word is working in a sentence. This helps you learn how to break down the grammar of a given sentence. These are skills that you can transfer to English. You can use them to help with your reading and writing.
For people still in high school, this can be a major help when taking the SAT. In fact, people who take Latin tend to score higher on the reading and writing sections of the SAT when compared with other students.
It’s Helpful When Learning Other Languages
A lot of the languages spoken today have their roots in or have been heavily influenced by Latin. This means that knowing Latin will make it easier to learn other foreign languages. Most Romance languages will be much easier to learn because many of the words and verb forms will be rather similar to Latin.
Even if you only have a basic knowledge of Latin, you’ll be able to see similarities that will help you as you learn another language. This is what makes Latin so helpful.
Perhaps the best reason for learning Latin is that it can be a lot of fun. Latin is like a great puzzle waiting to be solved. It’s challenging but also rewarding. It can be rare to find something you like to learn about, and if you enjoy learning Latin, then there’s no reason to stop.
Any of these reasons are great reasons for why you should learn Latin, but they aren’t the only reasons out there. You shouldn’t feel limited by them. If you want to learn Latin for some reason that’s not listed here, that’s great. Study hard and keep learning.