Who Says Latin Is Extinct?

Carpe diem, for momento mori.

Timeless, no? What more do you need to know, at least while you’re young?

Anyway, the last native speaker (Yes, native speaker) was born in Hungary in the 1860’s. Died around 1940 or so. He was a Classics prof at a top US university. It was his first language, and he was more comfortable in Latin than in any other language. Many folks don’t realize this, but Latin had been nearly a native language in parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (with a certain section of the upper class) for a very long time.

I think I’d rather speak Latin than Hungarian. You think Latin sucks? Try learning Hungarian as a second language. You’d rather be in Hell, or actually you would be.

When is a language dead anyway? When it has no L1 speakers? What about L2 speakers? Latin’s had those for a long time now. Recall that in in Paris cafe society 1910-1920 (You were there, remember? Sitting at tables with James Joyce, Ezra Pound and all those women with funny orientations. Just jogging your memories.) there were so many people from so many different European countries that they actually spoke Latin so they could understand each other. Now English is the new Latin, but it’s so much worse, isn’t it?

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11 thoughts on “Who Says Latin Is Extinct?”

  1. Hey Robert, were the Romans haplogroup R1b, like King Tut? That would resolve the issue of whether or not they were Nordics or Mediterraneans or what not.

  2. English is hell on Earth as a second language to learn. In that regard, I say Latin is the way to go.

    It is literally the foundation for so much more in the western world.

      1. Southern California. I learned Persian and English concurrently growing up, more or less.

        For members of my family, English was their third, and even sometimes fourth language to pick up. That is why I argue English can be difficult to master. Compared to other Indo-European languages, especially those in Europe which are very logical in grammar, English’s “logic” really makes no sense. It requires a lot of experience to learn. It is not a language picked up in a book.

        Of course, that is also what has perhaps made it’s speakers so unique.

  3. Robert what are you talking about , English is a great language, do you think that Rock & Roll would of sounded great in French .

  4. French, English and Italian are all pretty good singing languages for some reason. I’m not sure about German and Spanish. Spanish is okay, but maybe it’s just that a lot of the music bothers me.

    Latin! I’d like to learn it for cultural reasons, but I think then I think that learning virtually any modern language would be more interesting, because I’d actually get to speak it. And it pays to impress foreign girls. I can’t seem to get any Americans but every time I go abroad things go my way. And the literature in Latin isn’t as vast as you’d think. There’s probably a good deal more quality Russian stuff you could read, although knowing the roots and changed meaning of latin-based words would be cool. But then again, just having a firm understanding of English and one romance language helps you quite a bit with that.

  5. Dear Robert
    I have a Hungarian friend. I told him that in your opinion, learning Hungarian as a second language is like a journey into hell. Now he wants to know where you live. What should I tell him?
    Cheers. James

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