News of Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement has brought the Latin language to the front and center of minds worldwide. For one thing, the Pope announced his retirement in Latin. Giovanna Chirri, an Italian journalist assigned to the Vatican beat, was able to break the story before her peers thanks to her knowledge of the dead language.
What exactly is a “dead language” anyway? Most experts agree that a dead language is a language that no people speak as their primary or native language. While some speakers may become fluent in a dead language, the linguistic environment is such that it is unlikely to become the native language of future generations. Father Reginald Foster recently told the BBC that he estimates there to be currently fewer than 100 fluent Latin speakers today. Of course that doesn’t take into account all the scholars and current and past school children able to read—and not speak—Latin at various levels of understanding. While Latin might be technically “dead,” it has greatly influenced many living languages spoken throughout the world, including English. (Click here to learn more about everyday Latin phrases used in English.)
Latin was the official language of Roman Catholic liturgy (i.e., the text of all church services and masses) until the 1960s when the Second Vatican Council, popularly known as Vatican II, gave worshipers permission to pray in their individual vernaculars. (Latin still remains the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.) Pope Benedict himself, going by his given name Joseph Ratzinger at the time, was an attendee of Vatican II as a theological consultant. In 2011, under the direction of Pope Benedict, the Catholic mass received some debated updates in language to bring the respective vernacular translations closer to the original Latin. Read more about it here.
Troubled by the sometimes “superficial” proficiency in Latin exhibited by theological academics, Pope Benedict established a new Papal Latin Academy in November 2011 to promote the use of Latin worldwide with both a religious and a scholarly agenda. Vatican scholars also hope to champion Latin through the “Lexicon recentis Latinitatis,” a growing list of modern words’ Latin equivalents. This continuing project began in 1992 and includes the Latin translations for words including “taxi” (autocinetum meritorium), “basketball” (follis canistraque ludus), and “blue jeans” (bracae linteae caeruleae). In a modern application of Latin, the Vatican’s ATM allows users to withdraw funds in Latin.
Do you think that Pope Benedict’s efforts to revitalize Latin will live on long after he has left his holy office? Is there a future for this dead language?
I really enjoy finding the origins of words and more often than not, I find a Latin root. I sometimes wish our Canadian schools taught Latin as do our British cousins. Perhaps we would have a more insightful and incisive grasp of the wide and wealthy language that we (North Americans) seem to speak so poorly. (Mea Culpa)
A language will flourish only it is the spoken language of a country or a region. That language should borrow liberally from other languages the words which are popular . English is a good example for it. It is almost a world language now.. So Latin has no future as such.
It depend on Catholics
Though Latin can be very descriptive in its usage of words- I only have a very limited knowledge which was required to study medicine- its descriptive nature makes the words very long and laborious.
In the days in which frequent use of shortcuts and acronyms are gaining hold daily it seems quite unlikely that the new Latin will ever take hold except in circles where the knowledge may help people keep their esoteric knowledge to themselves.
Sanskrit the ancient Indian language is one similar language, the root of many languages but hardly used by any outside the religious group. Again the vast knowledge that remains hidden due to the esoteric usage has worked against the development of several forms of Indian medicine which would have been immensely useful to the world had they been exposed or translated into some of India’s more used or known languages.
Needless to add that in most modern Indian schools; Sanskrit is often taught with English text books!
No! I don’t see the new Latin growing or becoming popular outside private circles!
[...] ‘Pope Benedict’ can be reached — We remember from being an Altar Boy in the 1950s — Et Cum SPIRIT 22O — The Pope’s Phone Number until he resigns. — ‘Dominus Vobiscum’ — ‘Let us Play Dominoes’ consigns. — Sacristy Humor they called it — ‘Confiteor Deo’ repeated — Re-defining God has forestalled it — Though Metaphorically undefeated. — The mystery of the Latin Mass to a child was mysterious and scary. — Transitions made forthcoming. — Delirious and hairy. — The history of Latin in the Catholic Church is not to be denied. — Santa Claus and the Tooth Ferry: — Metaphorically nobody lied. –>>L.T.Rhyme –”Oui.” –>>J.J.Rousseau This entry was posted in DICTCOMHOTWORD, JJROUSSEAU, L.T.Rhyme and tagged JJRousseau, LT, LTRhyme on February 18, 2013 by LTRhyme. [...]
Have my doubts that the efforts of Pope Benedict will cause Latin to live on in other than academics, but in general terms Latin will always be used by Medicine because that is the language Medicine has used more or less from the beginning.
Latin language is always alive.
Just like any communication system it is subject to injunctions of other languages.
The formatation of Latin because of things or situations or status that did not exist at the times it was practiced day to day is exactly what happens to languages given as official by governments.
To revitalize Latin in fact is what is occuring to any modern languages, whatever they are or whenever.
Long live Pope Benedict!
I think the Latin language will and should be be preserved by future Pontiffs.
I would imagine that the church has much more important things to worry about than the use of Latin.
I believe that is all the decision of the next pope.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought English was a Germanic, not Latin, based language.
I just don’t think Latin will “come back to life”. Despite the beauty and structure of the language, really, who would say “follis canistraeque ludus” when they could just say “basketball”? I know I wouldn’t.
It is a blessing to the chatholic family and the world in general that the Pope is still alive to remind us all that we still need to remember that tradition still has a role to play in the modern time.
This is a serious issue for the lovers of the language. I would appreciate to speak the language if I have the support because its always like a link to some old facts. But Latin remains a language I want to believe as dieing except its a lot is put into it.
Yes I believe Latin need to continue in all of our cultures.
Well, I think there is a possibility of Latin becoming a common language in a particular region. But this will take more than ATM withdrawal usage.
As it was already said, it´s a dead language… In linguistic, and other matters, you can´t go back… you can only go forward! Fortunately or unfortunately, this means the death of some languages, the change of others but also the creation of others.
Historically, newly-elected Popes are typically fairly different from their predecessor. Conservative Benedict XVI followed the reformist John Paul II. By that logic, we ought to get another reformist, who is unlikely to be all that big on Latin.
I do wish the attempts to make the Church a bit more Latin would continue, though. It provides unity. And, as someone who’s not religious but likes to study religions, I think languages are half the fun–what would Judaism be without Hebrew and Yiddish, what would Islam be without Arabic?
No, no future for Latin. I just can’t understand why people would learn it. I can maybe understand it in a religious context, but frankly studying Latin is a waste of time, and it is, at this point in time, impossible to become a truly “fluent” user in my opinion, since there is nowhere where it is the primary language.
With thousands of living languages, a huge number predicted to go extinct within the next century, why on earth would anyone waste their time learning a language that died thousands of years ago? It makes much more sense to spend efforts on learning a living language, which would be much easier as well since there are actually modern materials available in them.
WAIT! No I’m just joking. Latin’s a great language. I mean, there’s even an ATM in Latin! Because there’s not like thousands and thousands of ATMs in modern languages…
Many schools in the U.S. offer Latin as a course nowadays. Though it is a dead language, it is helpful in translating any language based on Latin, such as French, Italian, Spanish, or English.
Reviving a dead language is very hard to do, since it takes time for people to learn a new language. I don’t think any countries will begin speaking Latin any time soon, but Pope Benedict’s efforts can further popularize the language.
I don’t know why you say that Latin is a Dead Language when you are using it every day for communicating.
Schools in different countries have Latin as a part of their curriculum.
-Certain professions (i.e. Medicine, Horticulture, Biology, amongst others) Latin is the universal and common basic vocabulary.
Latin is used among Theologians ( independently not all are Christians)
Latin is where French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian comes from.
Although my knowledge about Latin is not as a proper language to speak and read, But I know where the origin is and I can see similitudes with other languages in their roots. That limitations Does not make Latin a DEAD Language.
Ut opinor, the study of Latin is one of the best things one can do for one’s knowledge and fluent usage of English. The fact is that English is a Germanic language in a toga, a Teutonic core with a Romance public presence. While knowledge of that Germanic center is as vital to the use of English as are the motor and drive shaft to an automobile, proper and fluent use of its utterly enormous Latin (and, to some degree, Greek) extension provides the transmission, the wheels, the body and the turbocharger—indeed, style, speed and effect—to that linguistic vehicle.
The growing failure to study, and value, the Classics may explain why English usage has become so abysmally bad, and bereft of style and understanding.
However, I must add that the Vatican’s creation of these overwrought, monster phrases for simple items is nothing but counterproductive. There is no reason at all why “taxi” should not be adopted as is, as an indeclinable neuter noun. Nor should “basketball” be anything more verbose than “canistropila” or “canistrosphera” (accent on the ‘o’, which marks the Ablative of Specification). The Vatican’s creation of these lexicon-horrors—definitions erroneously used in place of words—should be avoided.
All languages evolve over time–trying to read the English of a mere half-millennium ago would be difficult for most “English” speakers of today. Admittedly, Latin in its pure form may not be used much for purposes of conversation, but it has a huge influence on English morphemes (trying to speak English without its Latin morphemes, its prefixes, roots, and suffixes, would barely be possible). Latin also evolved into many different Romance languages, including Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian, and Portuguese to name just a few. So, it would be best to think of the Romance languages as “evolved Latin,” and Latin itself as a huge contributor to their linguistic origin.
You want me to teach you Latin, but it is a language consider dead.
I might have to teach you, besides modern English, Chinese or Japaness.
There is a mistake in this article. Latin isn’t the foundation of English. If it were, English would be a Romance language, and it decidedly is not. Rather, it is a Germanic language, a close relative of Frisian, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and some other languages. The influence of Romance on English is significant, but not in any sense foundational.
It is sad to know that languages die. Latin will live on if people at the holy office of Pope Benedict carry on his work with same love for the language.
sure there’s a future, i am learning latin, because it’s beautiful, and it has history. if people appreciate history, then latin will catch on. if people start appreciating other cultures, then most likely the language will be revived.
PER SE ???????????????????? i..e the children
I think that this is confusing because even though Latin is the official language of the Church, Latin is still the official language of the liturgy. The article reads that it “was the official language of the Roman Catholic liturgy…” The point is granted that the Mass was permitted in the late 1960s to be prayed/sung in the vernacular, but Latin still remains as its official language. In fact, it is highly encouraged to be used.
I earnestly hope that Latin is more widely used in Mass. It is truly beautiful and reverent.
My four children are learning Latin, and many others we know are doing the same. This is not uncommon in the homeschooling community, where Latin is seen as a huge help in understanding English and languages like Spanish.
Pope Benedict, who is a scholar himself, certainly has a scholar’s understanding of the benefits of knowing a language which remains the backbone of many languages.
I love the idea of a list of modern words translated into Latin! My 13-yr-old son called shotgun last week in Latin, figuring out a way to phrase it in Latin.
i wil miss having pope bendict as a high prest
I believe Latin should be spoken throughout the world, I don’t see what since It makes to make a language “dead”.
As one who loves and respects Latin, I regret that despite Benedict’s efforts, it will in the next few generations become a mere curiosity–very much like his Catholic Church in our modern, sophisticated world. I do note that “basketball” is mistranslated. “Canistra,” like “follis,” should be the genitive “canistrae” (thus “follis canistraeque ludus,” literally, “a game of a large inflated ball and of a basket”).
the pope is nice. I met him once at starbucks. He ordered an espresso in latin. It was great.
The liturgy is the official prayer of the church, and praying means to talk with God how Jesus taught to his disciples. I mean, when we talk with God, we must do it with confidence and simplicity. It would be difficult if we have to pray in a language that we don’t know well. Latin was useful in the past because everybody spoke it. I agree with the reform of the Vatican II. I think the liturgy must be said in vernacular languages.
This article really lends prospective and for that thank you
Latin is the Standard language from which all Catholic translations are made. Without it we’d have an interpretive bible and set of canon laws based on the translator of the time and author. Too many of these baised translations of God’s word already exist in the world, making for the lot of misdirected emotions and thoughts of the easily misdirected.
Hoc casu non est bona.
Tamen Google facit offer illud!
I personally hope that Latin makes a comeback. As a speaker of Gaelic (Gàidhlig) I know what it feels like to be so in love with a dead or dying language. It’s good to see this ancient and beautiful language receiving more attention.
I live in the suburbs of New York City, where the English language seems to be dying a slow and tortuous death, both in its written and spoken incarnations. As far as Latin is concerned, long may this dead language live, for knowledge is valuable in any form. For Catholics, Latin is Donum Dei, and is His language.
Latin will live on, at least as long as there are linguistic university courses requiring knowledge of Latin and the grammar of Latin and -of course-popes. It is still quite spread in Europe as a school subject, especially at grammar schools and other secondary schools whose students are expected to continue their education at universities. I remember that the late pope John Paul VI added to Latin such as striptease (denudatio publica) and football (pedifollem)
I agree with TineMarie that Latin is “a huge help in understanding English and other languages”…especially, those with the same type of declintion structure. While studying same in school, we use to say that “Latin was a dead language…dead as can be…first, it killed a Roman, now it is killing me”. However, it helped me greatly in vocabulary tests. Even now, when I don’t know meaning of word, I can make an educated guess, & am usually right. When looking up a meaning, I always memorize the Latin root
i met the pope and bought him a lolipop
IIt think doesn’t matter whether Latin is a dead language or not, it is a powerful mind exercise, equivalent to playing chess. I see that learning Latin brings extensive benefits to our ability with language and communication, particularly written language, because of the superior knowledge we acquire about Latin grammar, structure and rhetoric.
Israelis revived Hebrew, which had been dead for many more years than Latin.
Latin helps you because it totally diagnoses each part of a sentence, and gives you a deep understanding of language structure. I don’t remember any of it, but the discipline helped me learn Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, and also helped in my general writing skills. Reviving the study of Latin would benefit many students’ development.
English is a Germanic language, but it was very heavily influenced by Old French, which was directly derived from Latin, after William the Conqueror conquered England, making French the language of government. However, if you look at many German words, they are intertwined with the Romance languages, as are all European languages in some way or another.
These bloviating comments are a waste of fugit. One can translate (into Latin)
using Google Translate…ergo; if ‘it’ is recognized by Google, it;s alive, it;s alive!
No! It is not a wast of time to learn a religious language! It is a beautiful language that everyone should learn! You need to encourage it! Did you know most of the English words came from it? Tele: across. Scope: see closely.We use words that come from the latin language every day without realizing it! I realized this while I was taking a Latin class. <3
Hebrew made a comeback. There is no real base for Latin as there was when Israel formed and Joshua FIshman and others worked on the problems of revitalizing a “dead” language. There are languages like Coptic which are liturgical languages and I suspect it is more likely Latin would return as one of those. The use of Latin in the masses appealed to many because it made the mass special and because no matter where in the world one went, the mass remained the same.
Latin of course, changed over time and so I suspect the discussion is about late Latin in which for example “c” before i and e gets pronounced like “ch” in English and “v” is pronounced like “v” rather than “w” in English. This, some may remember was a problem with The Passion where Gibson had people speaking Late Latin rather than earlier Latin. True many should have been speaking Greek rather than Latin, but some of the Romans probably spoke Latin between themselves, but would have spoke Greek in official communications
Labi, ka ir interesanti. Paldies vai raksts. Labi uzrakstīts.
North Sea Germanic is the foundation of English. It is only supplemented by Latin.
Hate to say it but NO. I’d love for it to remain in existence, but the cold hard truth is that given another 50 years or so we’ll be lucky to find one fluent Latin speaker on this planet.
I personally think there is a chance for Latin to rise again. It may take decades, if not centuries, but it will no longer be a dead language.
Quattor annis in latinam collocutus eram, et si latina potest vivere, nescio. Quam latinam amo.
Latina non morta. Est bonus et amo Latina.
Yes, there are much deader languages than Latin and Greek, and languages under much greater threat. Like Sanskrit, Latin’s continued existence seems perfectly secure as a literary, academic, and ecclesiastic language. Maybe that’s a fate worse than death…but seriously, setting aside the vast Latin corpus, I’m not sure how much more vital a language could be, whose offshoots are major world languages like Spanish and French, whose vocabulary enriches languages as disparate as English and Japanese, and which provides the living terminological substrate for major fields of study both academic and technical.
No, I never thought the “recentis Latinitatis” (which I doubt I could safely inflect without self-injury), was much more than tongue-in-cheek, even for its inventors and I don’t begrudge the academicians their fun. I doubt it has much bearing on Latin usage one way or the other. Since we’re talking about it, perhaps it’s served some purpose–in any case, I don’t think this is destined to be a major legacy of Pope Benedict XVI.
We all know at least a little Latin–probably all what we need–I feel there is a more immediate and sustaining need for education in basic Latin grammar, such that casual speakers might form with confidence Latinized neologisms sourced from their own vernaculars, or properly inflect what Latin they do know, something rather alien to speakers of highly syntactic languages like English and Chinese.
Finally, like others, I have an abiding faith in the coming of a more elegant and idiomatic term for “basketball”, as should be apparent to persons wishing to communicate on that topic in whatever language they may speak, (as Ed Qualls suggests above).
Latin is a beautiful language. I wish it would come back.
ALSO – People do not know this but Romanian language is also Latin, just like Italian, Spanish, Portugese and French. Romania is surrounded by beautiful slavic countries but its language is Latin due to the invasion of the Romans many years back.
Bill’s assertion that the article is mistaken about the influence of Latin on English is itself erroneous in claiming that it is chiefly Germanic, as evidenced by his very choice of words.
article is from articulus
foundation is from fundation
language is from lingua
decidedly is from decidere
close is from clusa
relative is from relativus
influence is from influere
significant is from significare
sense is from sensus
rather is from Old Norse hrathr
English began as Anglo-Saxon, but Latin enriched it significantly. Wheelock’s Latin states that 60% of English words come from Latin, and that students who know Latin understand English better.
And as long as Latin remains the international language of science, it is not dead.
QVID QVID LATINE DICTVM SIT ALTVM VIDETVR.
(“Anything that is said in Latin seems important”)
That’s one of the advantages of using Latin.
The other one is that relevant knowledge doesn’t harm any one.
@Truther: Latin is the language to which Catholics texts were translated INTO
before they were translated FROM.
Two titles on different windows
I’m not very religous
But I do like this artical
By the way Anna, I like your reaction.
I wish this was easy to decide
No body that I saw in my quick scan mentioned law. Legal latin here and in England is very useful and perhaps even necessary. I had two years of high school latin. In college I studied Spanish and French. I have found my Latin very helpful. I wish I had had Greek, and I may undertake to learn it yet. Everything loses something in translation. I would like to understand liberty, freedom, truth, and tragedy as the Greeks did when they wrote about these things, not what someone else says they meant.
Why should one learn Latin? Because reading a manuscript in the original language is so much richer than relying on translations which are other people’s interpretations of the actual words. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the immense difference in the two most common translations of Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac! There is literal translation and translation that has the feel of the original – but it still is not the same. To put it another way – translations ain’t got the same soul.
Hebrew used to be also a dead language, but later revived as a common language when the necessity occurred. It’s my impression if many people are willing to be part of this project in the long course of time, it will realize down the road.
Calling Latin “the foundation” of English strikes me as misleading. English is a Germanic language, not a Romance language, and so the closest thing English has to a language on which it is founded would be Proto-Germanic. Latin is more like an invading army that conquered and occupied English partway through its evolution in the form of the Normans and science, two important sources of Latin-based vocabulary in English.
I would surely hope so. It’ll be very helpful, especially if you want to learn French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and even English. Many of their root words were derived from Latin. But it’ll be difficult to revitalise Latin in today’s world since (I hate to say this but…) it’s an arrogant language, in a sense that, it tries not to borrow words from other languages, which is quite impossible to attain in our modern society. Even if that’s the case, it was found out (correct me if I’m wrong) that it borrowed at least 13 words from Greek. So not unless, if they modify the language to be more flexible, it’s going to be hard, if not impossible, for the Pope to revive Latin again.
Another thing, I personally, wouldn’t refer Latin as a dead language. It’s just obsolete, that’s all.
I came here to search “perennial” and end up running across “superficial” (in this article, no less). Tell me again that Latin is dead?
“I would imagine that the church has much more important things to worry about than the use of Latin.”
On the contrary, Lisa: language has plenty to do with theology, which is the Church’s raison d’etre and therefore *the* most important thing the Church has to worry about.
I learn Latin at my school. I think it is a great language and I am for it being revived.
Autocinetum meritorium for Pope Benedict!
Is there a future for this dead language? Erm…if it’s dead, then no.
Latin is a beautiful language and I would give anything to study it. It would be fantastic for the Popes efforts to continue and bloom forth the revival of an old language.
Everyone forgets that languages evolve and that Latin is still very alive mostly in Italy, Romania & Spain. It just evolved… like English or any other language did. The Latin spoken 2000 years ago is dead and resurrecting the zombie is just as useless as trying to use “and forgyf ūs ūre gyltas, swā swā wē forgyfað ūrum gyltendum.” in everyday speech (that’s Old English by the way).
English is basically a Germanic language. The “educated”, “schooled” English is about 40% Germanic, and the rest is Latin and .. Ancient Greek enlarged.
…and the reason that Latin has affected most languages of Europe was caused by the Roman occupation and control of all of Western Europe. The indigenous languages of those lands were either suppressed, or the occupied people had to learn Latin to interact with the occupation forces of the Roman Empire.
English is fast becoming that world language now. It appears that all of business and commerce is done in English.
Truther… Did you say that there are biased translations of god’s words? Excuse me? Are the scriptures that are collected as the bible … were those scriptures initially in Latin? Did Latin have any influence on Hebrew, or Aramaic? or Ancient Greek?
Was ANY of the “word of god” ever written in Latin until 300ad? …300 years after Jesus’ death? Wasn’t it at that time that Emperor Constantine ordered that a bible be made up? Isn’t it around that time that the Roman Church began to twitch to life?
Veni, Vidi, Vici!
Let’s go from a means of transport to food to illustrate.
English is a linguistic stew whose main ingredient is Germanic in origin.
The “meat” was delivered to Britain by the invasion of it by the Jutes (from today’s Denmark) and the Angles and Saxons (from today’s Germany – hence Anglo-Saxon). The “vegetables” and seasoning were added by way of the Norman (remember that date 1066?) invasion. But remember the Normans were from Normandy, which of course is France. Here’s where the Latin was contributed, by way of old French. And thus the English language became bifurcated or richer, depending on your politics.
An example: the meat from a pig became known as pork (porque) once it hit a Norman table just as a cow’s meat was called beef (beouf). Every word in English that ends in the suffix -tion, and there are hundreds, is of French origin, which is to say Latin if you look well enough.
Also consider this. The English were everywhere spreading their empire and leaving behindg their language just as the Romans left Latin behind. However, this works the other way too. English speakers (Brits and Americans alike) have lifted wholesale words from many languages such as vendetta, stiletto, ranch, rodeo, et cetera, et cetera.
I have a similar interest in dead languages. In particular Old English and the current group (and very small band) of enthusiasts for Anglish. Anglish being the revival of dead Anglo-Saxon words – in place of the excessive borrowing of French, Latin and Greek words in their stead – and the coining of new words from Anglish roots.
Obviously it is very hard to revive any language (or tongue if we are following the Anglish way!) since they are organic.
But it is all in good fun. Despite being an Anglish proponent who wants to bring back long-dead Old English words instead of their French/Latin replacements, I find this Latin revival also very nice and interesting and enjoy the experiment of finding new words for the modern world, science, technology, society,etc.
But I will do the Anglish experiment rather than the latin one!
Why read Latin? Latin is the language of Science, Linguistics, and Religion (certain ones, anyway). As a non-Catholic, I am familiar with it for the first two reasons. Science long ago adopted Latin as the language of choice, and therefore anyone studying science should have an understanding in the basics of the language. (As a Protestant, I am more interested in Greek and Aramaic, the languages that my belief structure is based upon.)
Why speak Latin? Other than becoming a Pope, a Cardinal, or a Bishop, I really see no reason. I’m sure some phrases are simpler than our English phrases, but the three examples given here are comparatively cumbersome. I’d much rather learn the languages of economics, i.e. those that would enable me to speak to other peoples, such as French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and other living languages. Not a pseudo-dead language. (Yes, I know several words I used here are based one Latin, refer back to my first point.)
There’s definitely a future for Latin, but I don’t see it growing outside academic usage, whether religious or not. If for no other reason, it will continue to be studied and taught simply for the ability to understand historical texts; translations of these might be serviceable, but a translation rarely, if ever, carries the same meaning and nuance as its source.
Maria Garcia on February 19, 2013 at 6:23 am
“I don’t know why you say that Latin is a Dead Language when you are using it every day for communicating.”
A dead language does not mean it is not used. It means that it is no longer evolving. Latin as such is not evolving – no new words can be added to it – unless you want to stick random words in, which are not part of an evolved language. The Latin vocabulary is solidified, and no “new” words can be introduced – but I guess there might be some idiots how want to make “basketball” “Latinized” into “Baseketballus”.
If Latin cannot have any new words…it is dead.
I think latin is a language that we (the people) Should try to revive. many languages have their roots in Latin. SAVE THE LANGUAGE!!!!
As a Spanish speaker, I feel that I have a greater understanding of Latin as opposed to someone who only speaks English. I’m able to understand some French, and roughly translate small pieces of Latin. I think it would be wonderful if my school offered a course on Latin. I would most definitely take it. Though dead, the language still amazes me.
i’m certainly no one to be talking, but my strong impression is that it is a terrible mistake to try to turn back the clock. and that’s coming from an oldster who misses the old days.
if the catholic church were to outlaw vernacular, my great suspicion is that it would be largely outlawing itself. holding onto an outdated and clumsy language is one thing. trying to force it onto people who’ve not been involved with it their whole lives or much of their lives is another matter.
Well, I am a Latin translator and can tell you that I have kept quite busy over the years. Almost every week I have to translate one or two Latin diplomas from institutions as diverse as Harvard, Princeton, Georgetown, and Yale University to the National University of Ireland, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Tel Aviv, the University of Vienna, Pecs Medical School and many, many other Latin diplomas. In all I can say I have translated probably some 500+ Latin diplomas from close to 75 different institutions across the planet over the past 15 years. So Latin definitely keeps me working
As well I have done a fair bit of translation INTO Latin, most interesting being a few thousand word legal document that had to be translated into Latin for presentation in Vatican courts, which apparently only accepts documents written in Latin.
Then there was a guy who wanted a letter giving him ownership of some moon(s) of Neptune or Jupiter translated into Latin, for what purpose, I know not…
So yes, I do hope Latin continues to be taught and learned with interest, and coming up with modern equivalents for everyday terms is important to keep the language active, even if technically “dead.”
My compliments to Pope Benedict XVI for his excellent work in this regard.
Latin is a beautiful language for a mass and that’s where its usefulness ends. If it takes 21 letters to say “taxi”, and 3 words/22 letters each to say “basketball” and “blue jeans”, this language has no future in the tweeting world. The beauty of English is its simplicity and brevity. No one’s going to hail a cab by yelling “autocinetum meritorium!”
I’m in Latin II. Most fun class ever. The original topic i thought was taxi? To answer that it is “carrus” which means carriage/wagon in latin. As for basketball… I can’t guess the word but i know that puellae do not play it and you use your manus and digitus to grasp the ball.
thats really interesting dead lauguage nice
HELL YEAH!!!!! I say:
technically for something to be dead, it must have first lived and a language is just an abstract concept and does not fall under the following things for it to be considered ‘live’:
1. Specific organization
There fore, Latin cannot be in a sense, a ‘dead’ language and must be said as ‘not widely spoken’ or something else like that.
The story of Satan and Job makes more sense if you realise that the Greeks translated the description of the person as the slanderer, ho diablos ( the Devil). I’m sure a better translation of the bible might help elsewhere. This is where a dead language is useful as it doesn’t change with usage.
Even if you are not religious, a changing language causes legal problems. Our PM wanted to label the opposition leader a misogynist outside of Parliament without being sued. As there was no evidence that he hated women, a dictionary editor came to the rescue by saying that they would change the definition to include someone who showed bias against women (a sexist). At least there was evidence of this. He looked at his watch while she was giving a speech was one piece of evidence.
I love Latin. Have a granddaughter who received a gold medal in the National Latin Exam, which is a world-wide competition!!!!!
Teach some basic Latin in the early grades, kids will read better.
Smart guy our soon to be retired Pontiff.
Actually, there are many more than 100 Latin speakers today. The Junior Classical League (JCL) is a nationwide “club” that has countless numbers of members that fluently speak Latin. There are also smaller programs (there are many in several colleges) in which the main language spoken is Latin. This is in the United States, so in other parts of the world there are probably many more Latin speakers.
Latin is an extremely hard language to learn, I know, I take it, but it has a lot of benefits for knowing it. You can take tests that can get you scholarships and look great on a college application. Latin is the building blocks for most languages, so if you know Latin, it will be a lot easier to learn more languages. I think that if people are willing, Latin could become more and more popular as a second language, but I don’t think it will be anyone’s first language anytime soon.
Why are we going for a future? It already has a present. It’s left its legacy in the form of many of the latinate languages…it’s stamped in several English words and phrases and in particular fields, like law and medicine – along with Greek.
The question itself misunderstands the reality. Latin is alive in the sense that the Romance languages are all dialects (or more correctly creoles) of Latin. What is most important to understand, though, is that Latin is a language of a different era. The world used to move much more slowly and was a lot less complex. The grammatical structures of Latin, Ancient Greek, and many other languages were much more complicated than modern languages. In the modern world where people must communicate across language barriers so frequently, new words are being added to the languages all the time, and communication itself is so much more rapid, languages like Latin simply are not practical for most purposes. If you look at the history of languages, up until around 3000-4000 years ago (when the age of empires started into full swing) many languages were becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated. The imperial age brought that to a stop as the new pace of change made the sophistication increasingly problematic. Ever since then languages have become more and more simple (look at English; our vocabulary is huge but our grammar has almost entirely disappeared).
As a certified teacher of Latin, Spanish, French, German and English, I would like to reply to some of the posts above. English is considered a Germanic language. However, it’s vocabulary is 61% of Latin origin, with over 90% of three syllable or more words having Latin roots. Latin students consistently score the highest on the English Language part of the SAT test. This is due to their knowledge of Latin enabling them to recognize the meaning of heretofore unseen words.
Oops! So much for not proofreading, drop the apostrophe in “it’s” above as it is a possessive and not the verb “it is”. Mea Culpa.
English at one time evolved from a Germanic background (Anglo-Saxon), but after the Norman Invasion of England in 1066 under William the Conqueror, the Norman French language (descended from Latin) was thoroughly blended into it, and English has been a Germanic-Romance hybred ever since.
English is heavily influenced by romance languages (Latin) but it takes its roots from Germanic languages.
Most common, everyday words in [modern] English is Germanic based and more advanced words are Latin (or even Greek) in root.
Pork is from French (influenced by Latin), Pig is from German (influenced by Anglo-Saxon).
Imagine, modern Romance languages are essentially street Latin. Latin survives through this. As long as we continue to preserve Latin, I have no problem with the cease to use it. As long as we can still study the language, and thus, our origins.
If at least Catholics are promoting this language
Latin will never be a dead language
English is a Germanic language for the most part, stemming from the Indo-Germanic source. That is my understanding. Latin is handy in Legal terms, as well as the sciences. The Romance languages are based on Latin: Romance = Roman = Italian. 60+ years ago, in high school, the catch phrase was “Latin is a langage, dead as dead can be. First it killed the Romans and now it’s killing me”. i loved studying it.
sesquipedalia verba: words a foot and half long.
May be “autocinetum meritorium” describes a taxi, but nobody will use that to call one on the street.
New words for new things, that’s all.
BTW English comes from AngloSaxon + Greek + Latin, though some words come from other languages, e.g. cotton comes from Arab.
Classifying a language as ‘dead’ or whatever helps classifiers, but doesn’t invalidate or negate the usefulness of a language. Of all ‘dead’ languages, Latin is among the most necessary to study in today’s English-emphatic world, being a major contributor to the modern form of English. Additionally, Latin is perhaps the safest ‘dead’ language, being textually well attested for nearly its entire lifespan. Most other ‘dead’ languages would kill to have Latin’s advantages. However its revival goes, Latin’s place in history is fairly secure.
Good read. Have lots about Latin and will be reflecting on the implications of the return to roots in language and who insists on it. Like you know, the learning of Arabic in schools and other places, and big languages or lack of them in some places. Why Kiswahili in Africa, I come from Kenya, is growing or is not yet a lingua franca for all the continent. Can it be? In the mean time, thank you… I wish Taxi was just tax, taxi, taxzuuum… but I can at least say… I got my blue jeans and I go to Rome… hahaha!
ergo habeo bracae linteae caeruleae. Vado Roma.
so, seriously, how do you say “taxi” and “basketball” in Latin?
Latin is very useful for understanding what our language today means and where it came from; it is like a historical artifact. However, when we dig up artifacts, we don’t use them, we study them in order to enrich our understanding of history. Latin is a well-cherished artifact, but it does not need to be revived as a modern language.
I think the most realistic initial approach is being to make most teachings at clerical schools be done in Latin.
I would be fascinated if between the Catholic Church and the EU, Latin became the official language of the EU. It would solve several problems at once: liturgical use, civil overcomplexity (does the EU really need to spend so much time, effort and money translating documents and speeches?) and historical roots for unity. And there is certainly precedent, notably the revival of Hebrew as a fully modern vernacular language from a sacred, liturgical and literary language.
In fact I’m rather surprised the revival of Latin along similar lines and with a similar scope hasn’t happened already.
How do you say “Scum-bag” in Latin? “Popus Benedictus”, ah yes, that’s it.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone in the Catholic/Christian world knew Latin and could again communicate with one another in a common language? I would love Latin to be revived, at least among the western Church, but I doubt it will. Benedict did some really wonderful things, I think, but so many Catholics want radical changes now, that I doubt the historical traditions will be sustained for much longer.
Have a lot of people here forgotten about Hebrew? Also, yes English is Germanic, but Germanic languages adopted some Latin and Greek words and the English language adopted a lot of latin from scholars or indirectly through French
Regarding the comment about the translations of the Bible…the books known as the Old Testament were originally written in Hebrew and the writings of the Old Testament in Greek. As such, the Bible in Latin is a translation from the original Hebrew and Greek.
I could only wish that Latin would rise from the dead and become a widely used language. It’s so beautiful.
I remember Latin masses when I was young. It was more beautiful and mysterious for me than English. I was disappointed when the English mass began and stopped going to mass (I was 15) shortly after the change!
Latin is the basis of many languages, and most directly related to the romance languages. No, not the romantic languages, I mean romance: French, Italian(duh)Spanish, and several others. But even in some of the oriental languages you can find traces of Latin here and there. English has a ton of it built in.
It’s useful to learn because, well, it’s both practical, and just plain cool. If you’re studying medicine, you almost need to have some knowledge of it. All of science uses it for names. If you do word roots, you’ll find Latin roots for almost any English word. It’s also helpful for spelling and understanding words.
And I know some people think it’s dumb to learn a language that nobody uses, nor will ever use, but really it will help you speak other languages better. If you have to understand grammar, understand Latin first, then you’ll get every other grammar there is……..well, almost.
And then there’s the fact that only a few select people know even a little Latin. Why not be cool that way?
Interesting idea and would be awesome if it happened, but the title is misleading. never once do they say how to say basketball in Latin.
Latin mortum est, as a real spoken language; it was dead way before John 23 killed it anew. Absolutely most Latin speakers only used it as a circuit for mass and other ceremonies, as parrots, “Requiescant in Pace” “Dominus Vobiscum” and “Mea Culpa” were not regularly said with meaningful intention but rather as mantras. Now for the ones that accuse Latin and Greek of much influence in our language, please take a look at Sanskrit and Hinduism. In short, Latin ain’t got a chance of respirare in a new unit of time.
‘Estimates less than 100 fluent Latin speakers alive today.’ HOW PREPOSTEROUS! I could name 25-30 that I know. I’m taking my third year of Latin, and I can carry on a conversation, and I’m still a student. Even if you don’t count students, I’m convinced that there are at-least over 3,000 fluent Latin Speakers in each State of the USA. Latin is not a dead language, we’re speaking Latin, I am speaking it right now! It’s thriving in the English language and Spanish, and many other Romance languages.
if enough people really wanted to revive latin then maybe people who can speak it flueantly and others who would be interested enough to want to learn how to speak it flueantly to use it every day move to one area and live there long enough so that the next generation would learn it as there first language and after many generations of native latin speakers the language would be revived but only in one region unless the idea became popular and many other areas/regions tried this but that would probably take a lot of time and how many people would want to leave their home to revive a language?
It should be remembered that in many bodies of knowledge/sciences such as law, medicine, Biology, etc. the traces and influence of the Latin language are
very apparent . Lots of Latin terms are used and referenced to explain the etimology (origin of words). In Church liturgy, it enriches the solemnity of the celebration when certain portions are sung or said.
It would be fun to revive latin.
Just think if someone spoke latin as mothertongue.
I have been teaching Latin Conversational for more than 20 years and I have 25 to 36 students per classes at New Hanover High School in Wilmington, North Carolina today.
I teach Latin like I teach French, Italian or Spanish languages that I am certified on to teach. I do not see any difference to use a Communicative Approach to teach Latin, my High School Students love my classes, I teach from Latin I to AP Latin, I am so happy and I do not believe Latin is dead, to say that is stupid, I travel almost every year to Rome to visit my family and i always visit and take short courses in new approaches to teach Latin, i know more than 100 people who speak Latin fluenty like me and we enjoy doing it.
a language should be flexible it has to accept words of other languages …
I can see by the answers here that 90% or more of you don’t truly know or understand.
First, @luvgal … telescope is from Greek tēle – ‘far off’ + Greek skopos ‘target’, from skeptesthai ‘look out’. The Romans borrow’d it and made it into telescopium.
Which highlights what many here don’t seem to know. Latin borrow’d HEAVILY from Greek and other tungs, even from … gasp … the Germanic tungs! … For byspel, sacire, meaning “seize” (from Frankish sekjan, akin to English “seek”, Latin feodum, feudum “feudal” of Gmc origin, akin to OE feoh, ‘cattle, property, money, fee’), Middle Latin filtrum (whence filter), ‘felt’ from Gmc, akin to OE felt, ‘felt’), ML installare from in + stallum, ‘place, stall’ of Gmc origin, akin to OHG stal, ’stall’, OE stæl, and so forth.
English, at its heart and soul, is a Germanic/Teutonish tung. Most of the words noted (OE notian, ‘to use’) by most everyday folk are the Germanic rooted words. As said by leod82 above, many Latinates were needlessly – needLESSly – brought into English.
I hav nothing against Latin itself and folks are welcom’d to learn it all they want. However, I ask that you Latin lovers not bring any more into English.
Go Latin. Waha…
l’m 73 and l immensely enjoyed the intellectual intercourse. (I hope intercourse has not changed its meaning!) l want that Latin MUST remain dead so that the meaning of each Latin word remain the same. Thus, all the ideas l want preserved could be translated into Latin and the meaning is free from the changes inherent in a “living” language. Maybe this is the reason why a church made Latin her
The Catholic Church with about 1.2 billion adherents will not become just a curiosity in the next few generations. That is impossible.
kantutis mokis angis akingis pukesis