A lot of people ask this question: why would you ever want to take Latin?
This page is dedicated to answering that question. Next time someone asks you, send them
to this page. Hopefully, after exploring it, they (and you!) will realize that the real question
should be: why shouldn't you take Latin?
Benefits for Language
Latin will improve your English!
- Vocabulary: Did you know that around 60 percent of English words come from Latin or Greek? Even more do if we include science and technology
words! Once you know the Latin root, many English words will be easier to understand. For example: do you know what a
pulchritudinous woman is? What about a colloquial expression? What does it mean to subjugate a nation?
Latin answers these questions and so many more!
- Grammar: Do you know when to use I and when to use me? What's the difference between went and
had gone? Studying Latin grammar will clear up a lot of things like these in English that may not have been
so clear before!
- Latin is everywhere: Mottoes, phrases, words... Latin is all around in modern English. Do you know what phrases
like quid pro quo, bona fide, semper fidelis, etc., mean? How about Virginia's own state motto? Even
abbreviations of Latin are all over the place! What does etc. really mean? Do you know the difference between
e.g. and i.e.? Even some of your teachers probably don't, but with Latin, you will!
Benefits for School
- SAT Improvement: Looking to get a higher score on the SAT? Check out these results of studies done by Educational Testing Service, which show that students who take Latin
consistently score higher on the verbal portion than other students!
- Learning another language: Think you might learn another language down the road? Studying Latin first will
help with grammar and vocabulary for
Romance languages (Italian, Spanish, French, etc.), and your grammar knowledge will even help with non-Romance languages,
Here are just a few examples of what people have done after getting Classics degrees in college:
- Computer Science: CS, engineering, etc., especially jobs that require programming knowledge, are excellent
career paths for people who have studied Latin. Why? Because Latin gives you a great understanding of ANY language, and
computer programming uses its own set of languages whose rules are a lot easier to understand with a Latin background!
- Medicine: A background in Latin makes a lot of medical terminology a lot easier, and tells medical schools
that you are serious about academics and not afraid of memorization.
- Law: Law schools love to get applications from classicists - success in study of Latin proves that you have a
mind capable of learning and using the kind of detail you will be required to deal with as a lawyer. It doesn't hurt to
already know all those Latin terms, either!
- Education: Like Mr. Carruth, you too could end up teaching - and not just Latin; a Classical education helps prepare
you for English, history/social studies, geography, and is a great basis for starting other languages.
- ANYTHING! With a challenging subject like Latin in your educational background, you can really do anything you
want to - check out the list of famous classicists below to see what others have done (you could be the next famous author,
actor, musician, businessman, even president!).
The Real Reason
Really, when it comes down to it, the best reason to take Latin - or anything else - is for enjoyment.
It's all well and good to say that Latin will help you on SATs, help you get into college, etc., but the truth is
that you don't need a practical reason. Intellectual curiosity and the fun of learning something new are reasons
just as good as any others. Do you like puzzles? Latin grammar will be an interesting challenge. Do you want to have
a larger, richer vocabulary? Latin words will teach you new English ones. Do you like to learn about other cultures?
Do you like reading stories about love? What about war? How about political intrigue? Do you like poetry? Mythology?
Whatever you like, the study of Latin has something for everyone.
Here's a list of some people you may have heard of who studied Latin, Greek, and ancient civilizations:
- J.R.R. Tolkein, author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, among others
- J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books (which are FULL of Latin tidbits!)
- Chris Martin, singer for Coldplay
- Dido, pop singer (whose name is even taken from a Roman epic!)
- Ted Turner, media giant, founder of CNN, owner of the Atlanta Braves, and Time Man of the Year 1991
- Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, and founder of UVA
- Stephen Fry, actor and comedian
- Karl Marx, philosopher and political thinker
- W.E.B. DuBois, civil rights leader
- Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher
- Toni Morrison, author and Nobel Prize winner
see even more here and even on