Latin a dead languge? Mustangs say “nullo modo”

Lauren Hopkins– Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Many students when signing up for foreign language electives immediately skip over Latin as an option because they think it’s a dead language or they believe it’s too hard in comparison to Spanish or French. Current Latin students would disagree.

Emily Miller, a junior in Latin 3 explained why she encourages other students to take the class.

“Latin is definitely not a dead language,” she said. “Latin is used everywhere in the modern world. It is useful in law, government, science, and can help us better understand our own language.

“Additionally Latin facilitates learning other languages because all of the Romance languages including French and Spanish are based off Latin. The ‘dead language’ title is really a myth; It isn’t truly dead because people are still reading it and interpreting it today, which means it is still significant and very much alive.”

Miller further added,” I originally took Latin because I knew I wanted to go into a science field and I knew knowing Latin would be helpful for the SAT/ACT, which has definitely been proven to be true. I now take Latin for other reasons, for instance the fact that it is so interesting. The most fascinating thing to me is probably how similar the Romans-who lived thousands of years ago-are so similar to us today. It’s so cool to be able to connect with someone from over 2,000 years ago.”

She said,” I also love Mrs.  (Stefania) Mitzithras! She is just so passionate and knowledgeable about the subject that I’m completely compelled to want to know more about Latin. Her drive for Latin as well as her students is evident and infectious. She is honestly the reason I’m at Lakewood. I also have a better sense of our own language (English) now.”

She admitted however, “The quarter projects are my least favorite thing since they are always artsy and I’m not, but if you are then you’ll love them!”

Miller also extols the virtues of the LRHS Latin Club.

“It’s really fun,” she said.  “It gives me a view on Latin beyond the classroom, and we do lots of fun projects relating to the ancient world. Last year, we went to competition and this year we are going to the Ringling to see roman art pieces!”

Furthermore, Miller says that she is also grateful to her parents for pushing her to challenge herself and take Latin, exclaiming, “My parents are super supportive of my Latin endeavors, and my mom loves Mrs. M and all she has done for the program.

“Latin has changed my life. If it wasn’t for Mrs. M and the Latin program, I wouldn’t be at Lakewood, so my entire life would have been different. I don’t have a single regret attending Lakewood solely for the Latin program. This class has had a super positive impact on my life and I hope others will take the same leap of faith I did and try it out. I promise you won’t regret it.”

Julie Cotton, a senior in AP Latin also reflected on her experience with the language.

“Taking Latin has expanded my English vocabulary, which has helped me on my standardized tests,” she said. “Latin has made it easier for me to learn and understand other phrases in other languages like Spanish or Italian.

“I was motivated to take it due to childhood fascination with the culture and mythology of the ancient world. While taking the class I learned much more about figures like Vergil or Catullus than I would have learned on my own.”

She admitted, “Although I struggled early on, Mrs. Mitzithras is a great teacher who has motivated me so much over the years that I have now taken four years of Latin. In class ‘Mrs. M’ often makes connections between the millennia-old texts we are translating and current events, thus showing us that people are very similar and share the same interests, values, and feelings regardless of what time period they live in. ”

Cotton added, “Some adults seem surprised that I would take four years of what many consider a ‘dead language’, but honestly it’s not dead. Sure, it may not be spoken, but it is written and read. No language is truly dead until it is forgotten and thus not taught and read. I’ve taken so much away from this language for it has opened my eyes not only to a new form of communication but a new way of living, a new culture.”

Cotton hopes that more students will take Latin to learn more than a new language. She says the life lessons and history students take away from the class are incomprehensibly valuable.