Yes, I Can Speak Latin


I can speak Latin. Yes, this infamous dead language is still very much alive, and nowhere more so than in the halls of private schools. So when can you use Latin if you can't speak it to anyone (which is actually a common myth -- more on that later)? The answer is everywhere. For instance:

You learn cool etymological roots that can make you sound very intellectual. Sanguine? It comes from the Latin color of meaning blood red, because people with blood red cheeks tended to be healthy, and therefore happy. Puerile? It comes from the Latin word for boy, puer. A conjecture? It comes from the Latin word, coniectus, meaning to throw together, or to infer or guess. Plus those infamous Latin roots (manus=hand, manumission, manicure, manually, the list goes on and on ) are truly a real killer skill for the SAT.

You can impress people by speaking an ancient language that very few people understand. Not only are you part of the unique, 1% of the world who can actually speaks Latin (which makes any person very unique) but trust me, if you want to be able to gossip without absolutely anyone understanding- Latin is your best pal.

...but yes Italians will still understand you. Think no one speaks Latin? You're wrong, there are still Latin speaking clubs and organizations around the world. And also in Italy, but don't speak Italian (mamma mia!)? Try speaking Latin. They might laugh at you, and look at you like you're crazy, but 9/10 times they will understand what you're saying.

You know the basis to all the romance languages. Tons of languages borrow from Latin and can be used to quickly learn another language. For example, library. In Latin it's bibliotheca. In French it's bibliothèque. In Spanish and Italian it's biblioteca. Easy enough.

You understand those weird things on coins, college banners, and degrees. "E Pluribus Unum" which is Latin for one out of many, is on most coins. Don't even get me started on college banners... "Veritas" is on the Harvard banner, "Lux et Veritas" on the Yale banner, "In Deo Speramus" is on Brown's, "Dei sub numine viget" is on Princeton's. And graduating "summa cum laude"; the literal translation is the topmost with merit.

The pope! Yes, the pope can speak Latin. Not only is it the official language of the Holy See, but in this digital age, it also is used for Twitter. Yup, the Pope has a special Latin twitter account for the Latinists of the world. Follow him here(

If you want to go in medicine, botany, or law, Latin is your friend. All the body parts are in Latin, all the scientific names for plants are in Latin, and common law terms are in Latin. Phew!

So yes, I may speak a 'dead' language -although in my opinion, Latin is still very much alive- but do you know what the origin of the patella (aka the kneecap)? I didn't think so.

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