Why bother learning a ‘dead’ language?
Latin was originally spoken by people in the area around Rome, known as Latium. As the Roman Republic and then the Roman Empire expanded its control Latin became the common language of the Western part of Europe and the Mediterranean region. When the centralised power of Rome decreased in the fourth and fifth centries AD the Latin-speaking world fragmented into several independent states, and Latin gradually evolved into multiple modern languages, such as Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansh, Spanish, and other Romance languages, which are its descendants. There are also many Latin derivatives in English (as well as a few in German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish) and Latin derivations are commonly used in the sciences (such as botany, zoology, physics, biology, and chemistry), technology, medicine, and law.
So in many ways Latin is not a dead language and learning it can bring multiple benefits:
- Developing English literacy skills (by expanding vocabulary and revealing the relationships between words and phrases)
- Facilitating learning another language (by providing a focus on grammar and understanding of how languages work)
- Providing the opportunity to learn about ancient history and literature