Why Study Latin?


Why Latin?

Classical schools are also known for teaching classical languages, usually Latin, but sometimes Latin and Greek. Latin has been taught in classical schools for centuries, even after Latin ceased to be a popular spoken language. There is good reason for this, for the study of Latin rewards us richly in several ways. Latin is the mother tongue for over 50% of all English words, so the study of Latin greatly enhances one’s English vocabulary. Often, just one Latin word is responsible for several English words. Take for example, the Latin word porto (“I carry”). From this word are derived port, portal, porter, porch, airport, import, important, transport, export, report, and portable. In this case one Latin word helps yield ten English words- a pretty good investment.

Latin also helps students understand grammar. As they learn Latin grammar, they are also learning or reinforcing their knowledge of English grammar. Our own way of labeling and analyzing English grammar evolved from the study of Latin grammar. The grammar of the Latin language is logical, straightforward, and highly regular, making it an ideal language to learn grammar that can be applied to many other languages, including of course, English. It has been shown repeatedly that the study of Latin quickens and enables one’s mastery of English. SAT and GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores rise.

Finally, we should mention that Latin is also the mother tongue of the so-called “Romance languages” of Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian. They are called “Romance languages” because they directly descended from the language of the Romans which was Latin. If 50% of our words in English come from Latin, up to 90% of the words in these languages come from Latin. Students, therefore, who study Latin and/or Greek, will find they are on their way to learning additional languages (especially Romance languages) with much less effort.