DAY 5: Latin Lives!

I cannot adequately express to you how depressing it is to hear people say that Latin is dead when it lives in every aspect of our language! Alright, that’s a little hyperbolic; it doesn’t depress me at all, but for the sake of making this post persuasive, I thought a little exaggeration would be necessary πŸ™‚ We may think it’s not important, but a large portion of our English words come from Latin, and I’m going to list some of them now.

Auditorium. Antebellum. Cactus. Julius. Julia. Omnibus. Portcullis. Magnanimous. Century. A.D. (Anno Domini). Shall I continue?

Latin is alive and well. It breathes is nearly all parts of our language. One particular thing I’m fascinated by is the plural forms of these words. For example, in accordance with the Latin 2nd and 3rd declension noun structures, the plural of “cactus” can be both “cacti” and “cactuses”, because both are plural Latin endings!Β Β In accordance with the 2nd declension neuter noun structure, the plural of “auditorium” is “auditoria”, another one of my favorites.

Antebellum, a common phrase used to refer to the eras after the Civil War, literally means “after the war”. Omnibus, derived from the Latin form “omnis” meaning “all”, means a volume containing many novels or other published works, or something consisting of several different items.

The names Julius and Julia and masculine and feminine Latin words, respectively! There are other names like this, such as Marcus and Marcia, and I’m certain there are others as well, though I cannot recall them at the moment.

So, who says Latin is dead? We use it every day to refer to the most common objects, and don’t even know it!

Latin lives!

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7 Comments

  1. May 13, 2011 at 7:28 am

    A “dead language” is a commonly used term to refer to languages which are no longer used by any society as their main language, which I am sure that you are aware of. It does not, as you are supposing, mean that no languages today have roots in it.

  2. ryan4143 said,

    May 13, 2011 at 7:38 am

    I understand what you mean, John, but in this post, I don’t use “dead language” once; I use “dead” loosely to refer to the idea that Latin doesn’t even permeate any aspect of our culture anymore, not that Latin isn’t used in any societies anymore. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church still uses Latin, and as they are, in fact, a society, I think Latin is still alive in that regard as well πŸ™‚

  3. ryan4143 said,

    May 13, 2011 at 7:43 am

    But you’re probably right, John; I was mostly trying to illustrate why Latin still exists in our culture in this post, not why Latin is still a technically “living language” in terms of the definition of a “dead language”. I used all terms of “dead” and “alive” very loosely to demonstrate this πŸ™‚

  4. ryan4143 said,

    May 13, 2011 at 7:46 am

    I concede the victory to you in this debate, John πŸ˜€

  5. May 13, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Uh, okay. Good…

    (By the way, I know that I already won, but the people that make up the Catholic Church do not use Latin as their main language. Thus, it does not make it “living”. I assume that you already knew this, and the catholic church example was a weak attempt to win an argument where you did not have a solid platform to stand on. I also assume, after thinking about it, you realized this, and thus gave me victory.)

  6. ryan4143 said,

    May 13, 2011 at 8:47 am

    True that, John πŸ™‚ I will debate with you over grape-eating sasquatches any day, though…

  7. May 13, 2011 at 9:53 am

    We need to do a real debate over SOMETHING, maybe post something controversial?

    Like did all the grape-eating sasquatches get eaten by moose, or is it a conspiracy?


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