On Latin

By The Rhetor

An article in The Spectator discusses the benefits of learning Latin for those training their minds.  I of course agree with its thesis. Many will ask why learn Latin, why not a more relevant language i.e. Mandarin (and this example is given in the article). The wonderful thing about Latin – from a Western, and specifically Anglophone, viewpoint – is the way in which it is  as similar as it is foreign to our own linguistic experience. Further more the english speaker can relate more readily with the ideas expressed by the Latin. Latin then, forces you to construe familiar ideas in unfamiliar ways. Mandarin in contrast is a language which expresses a wholly different cultural experience and indeed presents a whole group of different challenges for the learner. I am not suggesting that one should not learn Mandarin, it is an incredibly useful language to learn, however we should not be so willing to proclaim Latin dead.


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