SOME REASONS TO LEARN LATIN
Latin?! Yes, Latin! As absurd as it sounds, its basic knowledge can be quite useful to us in life. In what way? Let me give you some examples today.
A LANGUAGE FROM FOUR THOUSAND YEARS AGO
Latin is estimated to have emerged around two thousand years before our era. It was gradually adopted by the peoples of ancient Italy, and when Rome became an empire, the language spread throughout most of Europe and into the Mediterranean regions of the Middle East and Africa. Latin left such a strong cultural imprint on the peoples of these lands that it continued to be spoken even after the fall of the Empire.
Latin was spoken less and less every day, but it remained an international language. Educated people from all over Europe could communicate with it, just as they can today with English. Latin continued to be used in government offices, science, literature, and liturgy. Until the end of the Middle Ages, almost all written texts were written in Latin.
Since the Renaissance, its importance has gradually declined. National languages began to be used in other spheres, with Italian, French, and English vying for the title of international language. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, however, knowledge of Latin was still extremely important in all spheres related to government. Doctors, lawyers, and clergy still use it today.
I STUDIED LATIN
Historians find Latin useful for reading older sources, so I had to study it myself for two years. I didn’t like it! Latin has a lot of complicated latin grammar rules. The variation of different words always gave me a headache. In the end, I never had the ability to speak the language or even put together sentences from scratch. Nevertheless, I had to pass this subject, so I gained some elementary knowledge.
In the following years, it turned out that these basics allow me to move around in our culture more efficiently. Knowing a certain number of words, I could more or less read the meaning of inscriptions found on old (and sometimes newer) memorial plates, monuments, or paintings. This allowed me to orient myself in the monuments and sometimes even impress the people who accompanied me.
Moreover, I realized how often Latin is used in our language as well. There are many Latin phrases that we simply quote because we are so used to them, or because they simply express more than our words. For example, now and then, we can hear Polish expressions such as nota bene (draw your attention to the fact that), ad hoc (ad hoc, temporary) or a priori (without getting to know the facts). There are many more such examples.
Assuming that you have never learned Latin, I would like to show you that you know it to some modest extent. Do you know these phrases and terms? Opus Dei, Nihil novi, cogito, ex nihilo, habemus papam, alma, deus ex machina, Homo sapiens, in vitro, placebo, status quo, Prima Aprilis, Veni, vidi, vici, vice versa, postmortem, alibi, pro publico bono… Surely most of them you have heard, and maybe you even know their meanings.
By the above, I do not want to say that a man of the class should include Latin in his speeches. Such behavior will be received positively in some circles, but in others, it may be considered snobbishness and exaltation. However, I believe that we should be educated enough to understand what others are saying to us, even if they use just a few basic words from an ancient language.
Latin has also been favored by various artists, who use it in the titles of their works or the names of their products. If you know the basics of Latin, you can often tell what a drug is used for just by looking at its name. Every second law firm has a Latin name. It is also often used in music, film, and even computer games, etc.
Moreover, it is not only about quoting phrases and understanding names. Latin has had an enormous influence on the shape of European languages. Mostly in the Romance languages, so a basic knowledge of Latin can help you learn Italian, French, Spanish (both Castilian and Catalan), Portuguese, and even Romanian faster. Moreover, its influence can also be seen in German, English, and Polish. We use many words that have their origins in Latin:
There is one more important argument for which it is worth taking an interest in Latin. This reason will convince rather a narrow circle of men who want to work on themselves and their character, as well as people who want to deepen their erudite knowledge. It is about Latin sentences, that is, short statements containing universal truths.
In ancient times, poets and philosophers played with language in order to convey the maximum content in the shortest possible form. A great many sentences were written in those days. Many of them have survived to this day. Despite the fact that two thousand years separate us from the authors of these sentences, we can draw conclusions from them that are very important for us today. They often teach, make us think, and inspire us to become better people. Interestingly, many of these sentences we know very well in their Polish version, like proverbs. We don’t even realize that they were already in use in ancient Rome.
So I decided that the sentences should be included in Gentleman’s Time to inspire us to action. Originally I wanted to write them out in one post, but with each successive post, I wanted to add longer and longer comments. Eventually, I decided that the only solution is to prepare a whole series devoted to the sentences and truths behind them.
The premise is that in each episode I will be discussing some important male topics, backed up by at least two sentences. Presumably, each video will have a text version on the blog. In order not to scatter these sentences too much, I plan to collect them all in one place – for now under this post, along with links to relevant materials.
The first episode can be found below. The beginning of the video is a typical introduction, and to some extent, it coincides thematically with the above entry. From minute 7:50 I move on to the first sentences.