Why taking Latin is better than French or Spanish

Veni, Vidi, Vici


Latin memes and bumper stickers on display in Magistra Yount’s trailer. Photo by Camille Owen.

Camille Owen, Author

Latin is underrated at Battlefield. Aside from the smug looks and questions that Latin students always receive from Spanish and French students, someone always brings up the fact that Latin is a “dead language”. Just because it is no longer a spoken language, Latin is far from dead. It is used everyday in churches, schools, labs, and hospitals; so if someone was planning on taking an interesting and useful language at Battlefield, they should definitely choose Latin.

Magistra Yount, the primary Latin teacher at Battlefield, says that students should take Latin because it is an excellent foundation class to better understand English and other languages. “We do a lot with vocabulary and grammar. So if you’re trying to improve your English grammar, that’s something that we learn a lot of through the Latin roots. . . I will teach the English grammar before I teach the Latin concept and compare and contrast how the English language works and the Latin language works. I’ve had many students who maybe weren’t the best Latin student, but they understood English better having gone through the process.” That understanding of grammar will not only be helpful for English class, but also other languages if a student decides to take Latin for a few years before studying another language.

Another reason to take Latin is if a student plans on building a career in a scientific or engineering field. Memoria Press, an online classical education website, says that, “All of the modern sciences began their development at the time of the Renaissance (about 500 years ago) when all educated people knew Latin and Greek. . . Latin provides the root words for the specialized vocabularies of not one, not half, but all of the modern sciences.” For example, the scientific name of humans is homo sapiens. If a student knew Latin, they would know that homo means man and sapiens means wise. So put together, homo sapien is literally wise man. Even the word computer comes from the Latin word computo, to count.

Perhaps the most convincing reason to take Latin is for the culture and history of Rome. Students not only learn about the language itself, but also the mythology and history behind the text. As ThoughtCo, an educational database, puts it, “Studying the Classics lets you learn the fascinating myths of the ancient Greeks and Romans in their original with all the nuances of the language that are missed in translation.​ . . You can read about fantastic adventures, feats of daring, and places highly colored by imagination.” Reading Cicero’s public bashing of Cataline would not be as interesting without knowing the betrayal and secret plots that happened behind his back. Reading Ovid’s poems is far better than reading any English paper as Ovid decorates his poetry with the whimsy and magic of gods and goddesses.

While Latin is no longer a spoken language, it is still very important to today’s society. Students can get ahead in their field and take a class where mythology is just as important as the political scandals of the era. With course selections just around the corner, consider signing up for the best language class at Battlefield!