Erras, mi Lucili, si existimas nostri saeculi esse vitium luxuriam et neglegentiam boni moris et alia, quae obiecit suis quisque temporibus; hominum sunt ista, non temporum. Nulla aetas vacavit a culpa.
-- Seneca Epistulae Morales XCVII
You probably wouldn't be reading this Ancient/Classical History feature if you thought classical culture should be confined to museums and dusty tomes. But taking the next step, reading the classics in the original, demands commitment and can take years.
Latin Grammar is the Best Grounding for Education
Unlike their parents, your school-aged children have time to devote to acquiring a skill that will last them a lifetime. But why should they learn Latin? Dorothy Sayers says it best:
I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this not because Latin is traditional and medieval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least 50 percent.
-- From the National Review .
Latin Helps With English Grammar
While neither the language nor grammar of English derives from Latin, many of our grammatical rules do. For instance, since you CAN'T have a dangling preposition in Latin, certain purists consider it bad form in English.
Latin Makes You More Careful in English
In Latin you have more to worry about than whether a plural pronoun refers to a singular noun (as in the politically correct - grammatically incorrect: each student has their own workbook). In Latin there are 7 cases with which not only pronouns, but adjectives -- not to mention verbs -- must agree. Learning such rules makes the student careful in English.
But more important is the fact that traditional study of Latin starts out with a grammatical framework.... As American students begin Latin, they become acquainted with the "Latin grammar" system, which they can indirectly transfer to their work in English. What it gives them is a standardized set of terms in which to describe words in relations to other words in sentences, and it is this grammatical awareness which makes their English writing good.
Latin Helps You Maximize SAT scores
This sells Latin programs. Through Latin, test takers can guess at the meanings of new words because they already know the roots and prefixes. But it's not just enhanced vocabulary. Math scores also increase.
Latin Increases Accuracy
This may be due to the increased accuracy Professor Emeritus William Harris notes:
" From another point of view, the study of Latin does foster precision in the use of words. Since one reads Latin closely and carefully, often word by word, this focuses the student's mind on individual words and their usage. It has been noticed that people who have studied Latin in school usually write quite good English prose. There may be a certain amount of stylistic imitation involved, but more important is the habit of reading closely and following important texts with accuracy."
More of This FeatureWhy Latin - Traditional Reasons
Why Latin - Enhanced Vocabulary
Other answers to Why Study Latin?
A Little Etymology
Learning Latin on the Internet
(www.cwru.edu/artsci/clsc/whystudy.html) Case Western Reserve: Why Study Classics?
We should learn Greek and Latin in order to understand the Western tradition which is largely the record of dialogue based on or with reference to the Classics.
(www.dal.ca/~claswww/clasintr.html) Dalhousie Department of Classics: Introduction
Languages are necessary for the scientific study of ancient history, literature, religion, mythology, and philosophy.
(www.nd.edu/~col/whyclassics.html) Notre Dame: Why Study Greek and Latin Classics?
Studying Classics will help you to learn to read and write carefully, understand language and rhetoric, locate yourself within tradition, help in your quest for meaning.
Why Study Classics
Practical reasons to study the Classics from people in medicine, law, writing, teaching, and technology.