Lingua Latina July 12, 2008Posted by Fantastic Four in Language, Language Study.
Fascinating language, Latin.
I have always thought Latin to be one of the most beautiful languages. Due to the fact that it was not a living, breathing, evolving language anymore that it was once, learning lingua Latina has not become a priority for me for a long time, whilst remaining a language I flirted with, in quotes only.
veni vidi vici (middle school history class)
cogito ergo sum (first heard it in junior high school)
noli nothis permittere te terere (from one of my favourite blogs)
gaudium de gaea (the joy of gaea, I made this up as a name for my blog)
Later on, however, as I was increasingly exposed to different languages I found out that Latin was not just a dead and buried language. It has evolved into several other languages, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian to name a few. Many countries, including Turkey, have adopted its alphabet. Have a look at this map, it shows the distribution of Latin alphabet in the world. And although English is a Germanic language by origin, majority of its vocabulary is from Latin.
Latin terminology is used in abundance when it comes to science; biology, zoology, medicine as well as philosophy and law. It is used to add weight and formality to documents, articles, academic papers, even blog posts. You always see abbreviations of Latin terms in various scientific and literary publications, ad lib, ad hoc, et al, per se, etcetera, etc. Horticulture students sweat over genera of plants. Scientific names for organisms are chosen from Latin most of the time. Latin terms can be seen everywhere in technical context. Various groups, organisations use their motto’s in Latin for a bit of added effect of antiquity, seriousness, formality as well as a bit of romance, perhaps nostalgia.
Latin alphabet evolved from Proto-Canaanite and Phoenician, then Greek and Old Italic.
|Proto-Canaanite||Phoenician||Value and name||Descendants|
|ʼ ʾalp “ox”||א Α A|
|b bet “house”||ב Β B)|
|g gaml “throwstick“||ג Γ C–G|
|d digg “fish”||ד Δ D|
|h haw / hll “jubilation”||ה Ε E|
|w waw “hook”||ו
|z zen /ziqq “manacle”||ז Ζ Z|
|ḥ ḥet “courtyard”||ח Η H|
|ṭ ṭēt “wheel”||ט Θ|
|y yad “arm”||י Ι I–J|
|k kap “hand”||כ Κ K|
|l lamd “goad”||ל Λ L|
|m mem “water”||מ Μ M|
|n naḥš “snake”||נ Ν N|
|s samek “fish”||ס Ξ —|
|ʻ ʿen “eye”||ע Ο O|
|p piʾt “corner”||פ Π P|
|ṣ ṣad “plant”||צ ϻ —|
|q qup “monkey”||ק Ϙ Q|
|r raʾs “head”||ר Ρ R|
|š/ś šimš “sun, the Uraeus“||ש Σ S|
|t taw “signature”||ת Τ T|
There is renewed effort in Latin’s resurrection, possibly with the increased religious emphasis. It is also offered in the universities, in programs not only to teach reading and writing for the purpose of translating old text into modern languages, but also to teach how to speak it, converse using it. If this is not an effort to resurrect it, I don’t know what is.
It has always been a source of sadness for me, to imagine that a language is no more. Latin, however, is far from being a dead language, a fallen star, which has disappeared altogether as if it has never been. On the contrary, it is a language that influenced in one form or another many others, still influencing many aspects of written form of languages and life, even if not spoken as it was once.
The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that I would one day like to learn Latin. The complexity of grammar does not phase me. For those interested, there are online programs such as the Cambridge Latin Course.
Lingua Latina would also be a valuable asset to those who are set out to learn one of the Romance languages which evolved from Latin.
For a bit of an online read about Latin you can check out Wikipedia here.