Why Study Latin?
Nothing could be more incorrect than the idea that Latin is dead. On the contrary, in one form or another, Latin is very much alive today and, in large measure, is what has given the Romans immortality. The phrase Urbs et Orbis (the city and the world) was used to describe Rome and the Latin language came to be used everywhere. Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian are all called Romance languages because they are living descendants of the Latin spoken by the Romans who conquered and colonized these lands. In addition to this, the grammatical structure of Latin is very similar to that of Russian and German. More than sixty per cent of English words are derived or taken intact from Latin. Even during your first few lessons in Latin you will find that your English vocabulary increases rapidly as a result of your knowledge of Latin.
As Rome’s empire was slowly transformed into the beginnings of modern Europe, Latin continued to be the international language of all educated men and women. To some extent, Latin is still written and spoken today; for example, many a traveler in a foreign country has found that he can at least make himself understood by recalling a little Latin. At this very moment, somewhere in the world, someone is probably using Latin to coin a new word such as “neucleonic” or “urbiculture”. Finally, Latin as a language lives on as each new student today repeats words that Cicero and Caesar once spoke or wrote so long ago in history.
The study of Latin clarifies many points of English grammar, too, and can give the precision, polish and assurance which mark the writing of the literate person. Latin words, phrases, and mottoes used daily include alibi, vice versa, and e pluribus unum. Many abbreviations used in English are Latin. For example, P.M. is the abbreviation for post meridian, after noon; i.e. for id est or that is; and A.D. for Anno Domini, or in the year of our Lord, not after death.
Whatever your plans for a career, you will find Latin useful. If you study to enter the medical field, you will discover a multitude of Latin terms and abbreviations (t.i.d. ter in die, or three times a day, and dura mater,) in use today. Latin helps lawyers understand many terms used in legal documents (habeas corpus and non compos mentis) and to develop the habit of carefully inspecting the interpretation of words and arguments. In view of the profound influence Rome has had upon world society, it is little wonder that Latin is an important subject of study. Latin is still an international language and thus a bond among many nations.
Here at Colorado State University, we offer two consecutive semesters of beginning Latin: LLAT 105 and LLAT 107. In addition, survey classes of translations of the works of Cicero, Caesar, Catullus, Virgil, Pliny, Livy, Ovid and other writers are offered on an individual basis.