Latin Time

Being the crazy woman I am, I am going to start Beginning Latin on Wednesday nights at Harvard Extension, after work. I’ve never taken Latin before, and it wasn’t offered at my high school. However, since I’m a rare book cataloger, it’s really something I should have on my resume. Some jobs require it.

Beside helping me master the English language, which contains many Latinate words, there’s something inherently sexy about knowing a language that is so old and so widely used. There’s a reason rare book catalogers need Latin: a ton of books, mostly pre-1750s, are written in it.

Latin has played an important role in many of the books I’ve read in recent years. For example, in The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Not only do the boys take Latin in school, but Ronan’s dreams are in Latin.

Holly Black wrote about a Latin club that has an unexpected dark side in the short story “In Vodka Veritas” (in vodka there is truth), which appeared in her book The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. I remember reading it and really longing to learn Latin. Then the story took a strange turn. You’d need to read it to know what I mean.

Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow features a protagonist who is a Latin whiz. That’s the reason she gets set on the path she does. Without Latin, there wouldn’t be a plot in this book.

Have you taken Latin? Is this going to be intellectual torture for me, or something magical? What books have you read that feature Latin as a plot point? Let me know in the comments!

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6 Responses to Latin Time

  1. Kelly says:

    Never taken Latin, but they did offer it in my high school. I had a few friends who took it…I should ask them if they found it useful! What a cool thing to be able to add to your resume (and bust out at cocktail parties). :) Enjoy!

  2. I loved my Latin class in high school – even my senior year, when I was the only student taking it. I was actually the last student at my school to take four years of Latin, they got rid of it after that.

    You should read The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman! It’s one of my favorite books. And it involves Latin. :)

    • Audrey Audrey says:

      Wow, the only person taking the class? You must have learned a lot.

      I hadn’t heard of The Lake of Dead Languages, but I will add it to my Goodreads. Thanks!

  3. Steena says:

    I took Latin in grade school, high school, and college. I’ve never been great at it, nowherenear “fluent” but have found it to be one of the most applicable things I’ve learned. And, as the romance languages are simply bastardizations, they follow easily. You will not regret the class and it is fairly logical/intuitive, if very different from English.

    • Audrey Audrey says:

      I’ve taken the Latinate languages Spanish, Italian, and French, so I’m hoping that helps. Sounds like I did it backward and should have done Latin first!

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