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Spoken Latin: A modern remedy for the nation’s age-old reading problems?

14 August, 2014 0 Comments

By Frances Stead Sellers | Washington Post | August 8, 2014

Once you view Latin as the key to understanding both English and the history of Western civilization, as Jan McGlennon, who teaches at Wilson High in the District, puts it, you begin to think we should all speak Latin all the time.

What did the Romans ever do for us? (Image: Oxford Words Blog)


There are some basic things to figure out before you agree to join a group of people who all speak a foreign language. Like how to say hello and how to tell them what your name is. A little online research reveals any number of e-phrasebooks to help you navigate those niceties in languages from Arabic to Zapotec.

So, iPhone in hand, you open a door and introduce yourself. “Salve,” you whisper to the first person you see. Emboldened, you speak up: “Nomen mihi est Francisca.”

But then, before you can conjugate a deponent verb, a man sitting at a table begins discussing the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78. In Latin.

Fluent (that’s from fluere, “to flow”) Latin.

Mellifluous Latin, even. Latin that flows like honey, mel.

“Stupefacta sum,” you mumble.

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