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Benefits of Studying Latin

Rudis

Member

Marcus Aurelius' "To Himself" (that is, the Meditations) is originally written in Greek. Another great language to know.
It seems I'm forever a student...I'll do Greek after Latin.
 

syntaxianus

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Location:
Massachusetts, USA
I was hoping I'd get away with a sweeping statement. I think Harvard did have such a requirement at one point, and perhaps other early institutions, but I'm not sure when they abandoned it. I suppose I'm thinking more of the 20th century, and in particular the second half, when it simply wouldn't have been possible to take Latin at many otherwise good schools that dispatched pretty much their entire output to so-called good universities.
It is very worth remembering that Yale, Princeton Columbia, Cornell, Michigan, Brown, Williams, California (and how many others?) all required heaps of Latin at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Yale dropped its Latin entrance requirement in 1931. Latin was standard cultural equipment for learning, esp. "higher learning."

See Edwin Cornelius Broome, A historical and critical discussion of college admission requirements (U. of Michigan, 1903), 66.

Studying Latin helps in a special way to overcome a self-destructive presentism and self-dissolving ahistoricity. Why special? It connects us with a vast range of history more than other likely languages. English and Spanish, for example, reach back only so far. Latin goes farther, and more importantly, it gives us more direct understanding of much material of high cultural import.
 

Quintilianus

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My my ! feels good to be a Latinist after watching this.
Makes you realize we'd just have to get a bunch of them together to finally understand quantum gravity and we're too dumb to notice it.
 

Quintilianus

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Writing doesn't seem to go down nicely with most people nowadays. Unfortunately videos have replaced it - though it can sometimes be justified.
To sum up his idea (I was only referring to second vid) : learning Latin is language acquisition -> language acquisition is learning to learn new skills (any, really) -> Latin is the best language to do this (well except for Hebrew and Ancient Greek) since you need context to understand a single word of it and it's dead -> it'll make you an intellectual wonder, indeed Latin teaches logic, order, discipline, structure, precision -> God bless you.
I'm making a bit of a caricature of it, but that's a fair if rough outline. :D
 
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Quintilianus

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If I have the option between absorbing some information from either a video or a piece of writing, I nearly always choose the piece of writing. I can read a lot faster than I can watch.
Writing also allows for more critical potential. You'll get way more easily away with nonsense in a video. Just the simple difference in back-checking what you've read or seen is enormous, and vids can put the stress way too much on superficial and flashy effects, the more so when you've got nothing substantial to say, let alone rational...
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima

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That's true. To be fair, though, I tend to skim writing, so the final outcome may be rather the same. I do find that a video is more effective when the subject is something related to the sciences, since it becomes much easier to visualize what's going on when you can actually see the phenomenon they're discussing.
 
 

rothbard

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If I have the option between absorbing some information from either a video or a piece of writing, I nearly always choose the piece of writing. I can read a lot faster than I can watch.
Me too. Also, my mind often wanders when I listen to people talk, especially recordings or the radio.
 

kev67

New Member

Location:
Praeter Tamisem, ab Londinio passuum L milibus
  • You can understand the Latin references and quotes in books, and thus feel a link with those university educated authors from yesteryear.
  • It is the language of death, so helpful in contemplating your own mortality.
  • You do not need to pass speaking or listening tests to pass an exam (my reason for dropping French at school instead of Latin).
  • A way of passing time on the train.
  • Religion, e.g. The Lord's Prayer, sounds better in Latin, although the English of the King James Version bible also sounds good.
 

kizolk

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Bourgogne, France
Not that is has anything to do with the topic of this thread, but the name of your city is indeed confusing, kev67. Reading (ha!) your signature, I thought you were saying you were reading some book by the Thames.

But while I'm here: I guess it depends on what you mean by "benefits", but just like I "benefit" from listening to music, I benefit from learning, listening to and speaking Latin, as I tend to think about languages primarily in terms of raw sounds. But the other, more formal aspects of the language (syntax and morphology for instance) are really fun as well.
 

kev67

New Member

Location:
Praeter Tamisem, ab Londinio passuum L milibus
Not that is has anything to do with the topic of this thread, but the name of your city is indeed confusing, kev67. Reading (ha!) your signature, I thought you were saying you were reading some book by the Thames.
I have changed my location. Reading did not exist in Roman times. I wanted to put 'Praeter Tamisem, LXX passuum milibus occidens ab Londinio, XVI passuum milibus septentriones ab Calleva'. Unfortunately, I could not enter that much text in the textbox. I am not sure how grammatically correct that it. Julius Caesar used to measure distance in pasuum milibus. Calleva was an important Roman town near here. Now you can just see some Roman walls and a small ampitheatre, but there is quite a bit about it at the local museum.
 

Clemens

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Although people toss around ideas of why Latin is beneficial, such as it helps with medical or legal terminology, or helps you understand etymology, those things can be learned without becoming a fluent reader in Latin. The benefit of learning to read Latin is that you know how to read Latin; in other words, you have access to the texts in the original language.

Similarly to French, I think Latin enjoys a kind of vestigial prestige from earlier times when knowledge of it was the mark of an upper-class education. Universities are no longer primarily for training clergy and/or providing polish to the elite.

By the way, I went to a Catholic university which used to have entrance requirements in both Latin and Greek. This was at least a couple decades before my time, though.
 

kev67

New Member

Location:
Praeter Tamisem, ab Londinio passuum L milibus
Although people toss around ideas of why Latin is beneficial, such as it helps with medical or legal terminology, or helps you understand etymology, those things can be learned without becoming a fluent reader in Latin. The benefit of learning to read Latin is that you know how to read Latin; in other words, you have access to the texts in the original language.

Similarly to French, I think Latin enjoys a kind of vestigial prestige from earlier times when knowledge of it was the mark of an upper-class education. Universities are no longer primarily for training clergy and/or providing polish to the elite.

By the way, I went to a Catholic university which used to have entrance requirements in both Latin and Greek. This was at least a couple decades before my time, though.
I strongly suspect that in previous centuries the main benefit of learning Latin was that it meant you were a gentleman and could enter certain professions only open to gentlemen. From my understanding of Victorian literature, about the only high prestige profession you could attain without much education was engineering. That profession was open to anyone with ability and drive. Stereotypically, the professions were the law, the church, medicine, the military and the navy. I do not suppose you needed much Latin to be an army or naval officer. To be a naval officer you needed to start young and have a head for mathematics. For at least the first half of the century army officers bought their commissions. I think they just needed to be posh and to be brave. You needed Latin, and preferably to have gone to university to enter the law or the clergy. I am not sure what the situation was for medicine. There were different types of lawyers and doctors, some more prestigious than others. There were other professions that were close to acceptable for upper middle class folk: school masters, forerunners of the civil service, gentleman farmers, banking and finance, merchants. To get into most of these professions, I expect you needed to be middle class, although maybe not very middle class. That meant you needed a reasonable education, which meant studying Latin, whether you retained much of your Latin after you left school or not.

Speaking of Victorian literature, many of the most prominent Victorian authors were not very middle class. William Makepeace Thackery and Anthony Trollope were. Charles Dickens and George Eliot were lower middle class. Charles Dickens would have had some Latin. I do not know about George Eliot, as I do not know if girls were taught Latin in school. The Brontë sisters were daughters of a clergyman, but not very rich. Patrick Brontë would have known Latin, but I do not know if his daughters did. Thomas Hardy's background was working class. His father was a stone mason and his mother was a servant. He wrote a book called Jude the Obscure in which a farm boy studied Latin in order to go to Oxford university, but he was still a rustic so he was not accepted. Elizabeth Gaskill wrote a book called North and South in which a mill owner paid for lessons from the heroine's father, who had been a clergyman but had lost his faith. The mill owner had had to leave school early, and wanted some tutoring in the classics to take the rough edges off.
 
 

Terry S.

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Patrick Ó Pronntaigh, aka Prunty, Brunty, Bronty, Bronte and eventually Brontë, after he left Ireland, studied for the Anglican ministry at Cambridge, so he must have studied Latin, Koine and probably some Hebrew, too.
 

Notascooby

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Thought I'd give Paradise Lost another go. I gave it a bash not long ago but got sidetracked but I especially remember reading it years ago and was baffled, bewildered and befuddled by his word order, syntax, word choice, references and illusions. However reading it this time is so much easier, in fact I've breezed through the first six books.

I think these years of studying Latin (and Greek) have helped immeasurably.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima

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No surprise there. Milton sometimes tends to write Latin with English words. :D
 
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