Why Do We Study Latin?

Why Do We Study Latin?

by Susan Tolbert and Joey Williams

One unique thing about Grace is the school-wide early emphasis on Latin, which continues through high school.  One might argue that a language more likely to be spoken would be a more useful study.  With time precious during the school day, why do we study Latin?

  • 90% of English words over two syllables come from Latin.  60% of all English words come from Latin.
  • The foundation of English grammar rests on Latin grammar. It is argued that an English speaker would do better to study Latin grammar than English grammar if only one were available.
  • Latin is a very logical language, training exactness of thought, accuracy of expression and attention to  detail.  It builds the “intellectual powers of the mind” (Cheryl Lowe) while at the same time building skill in English language.
  • The study of Latin aids in the acquisition of other Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French,     Italian, and Romanian most commonly)
  • After studying Latin, the student is able to translate literature that has been around for thousands of years as well as the writings of our church fathers.
  • Verbal SAT scores for students who had studied Latin were 162 points higher than the national average in 2002, and 85, 29, and 44 points higher than students of Spanish, French, and German respectively.

Dorothy Sayers, an influential voice on education, wrote in her essay The Lost Tools of Learning, “I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this, not because Latin is traditional and medieval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least fifty percent.”

Sources:

Cheryl Lowe, Classical Teacher, 2006.  An Apology for Latin and Math.

Dorothy Sayers, 1947. The Lost Tools of Learning.

Andrew Campbell, Classical Teacher, Spring 2007.   Why Study Latin and Greek?

Why Study Latin?  National Committee for Latin and Greek at www.promotelatin.org

 

Luke Shawhan