Translating History: Why You Should Learn Latin

Translating history: Why you should learn latin

While only spoken in the Vatican, remnants of the Latin language can still be seen everywhere. There are still many compelling reasons to learn Latin.

It’s true that Latin is dead, but it certainly is not forgotten. While only spoken in the Vatican, remnants of the Latin language can still be seen everywhere. In the books you read, in the movies you watch, even in the words you speak! In fact, Latin is still very useful today. The Latin language forms the basics of many Western European languages, history, art, medicine, literature, and even law.

Latin may be labeled as a dead language, but it’s definitely not useless. Despite it not being in widespread use today as it was a long time ago, there are still many compelling reasons to learn Latin. Beyond just translating history, here are some of these reasons you should learn Latin.

1. Learning Latin Helps Improve Your Vocabulary

You read that right. When you learn Latin, you’re actually also improving your vocabulary. Unknown to far too many, a majority of the English language is actually derived from Latin. This can be evident when you dig deeper through the root words found in English. When you learn Latin, you’ll see that many of the Latin words indeed have a correlation to English words. In so doing, it’s easier for you to associate certain words with their meaning. So, your grammar improves as well.

For example:

  • The English word memento comes from the Latin word “meminisse”, which means “to remember”
  • The English word mortal comes from the Latin word “mors”, which means “death”

The more that you deepen your study of the Latin language, the more you widen your vocabulary through a common understanding of bases, prefixes, and suffixes.

2. Learning Latin Enables You To Enjoy Literature

This one is for those of you who enjoy learning more about Literature. When you read literature, are you sure that you actually understand what you’re reading? Or are there obvious areas that you find difficulty in comprehending? When you’re traveling, do you understand what’s written in museum exhibits and signs and whatnot?

Learning Latin enables you to enjoy Literature. Why? There’s still tons of text today that predominantly uses Latin. When read and clearly understood, it denotes a level of literacy that enables you to enjoy literature for what it is.

For example, even in reading English written work, there are still some Latin phrases that are in use. A deeper understanding of the text requires you also to have a more profound comprehension of certain terms and phrases, known as Latin locutions.

Examples of these include:

  • Consensus, meaning “agreement”
  • Ad hoc, meaning “formed for a specific purpose”
  • De facto, used to refer to a person or institution with no legal rights but in practice holds the power of position
  • Ad lib, meaning “improvised”
  • Ego, which means “I”

3. Learning Latin Makes You Multilingual

There are many benefits that individuals can get from being multilingual. When you are so, this presents you with so many more opportunities in your career. It brings you outside the box, of what it is that you have been used to.

To learn many other languages, you should start with Latin. Latin is the root of many romance languages. This means that through Latin as the base, it’s easier for you to have a full grasp of languages such as French, Italian, and Spanish. It’s like becoming a citizen of the world, learning how to speak all these major languages in a faster set-up.

4. Learning Latin Improves Your Cognitive Skills

You may have heard it by now that studying Latin isn’t going to be an easy feat. Yes, this is something for you to expect. This fact also holds true even if you intend on learning Latin online. It’s still just going to be as difficult. There’s really no other way to sugarcoat that fact but to accept it as it is.

Learning Latin will be tough, but in so doing, your brain will go through so much exercise, that your brain’s flexibility improves. If it’s been a while since you’ve given your brain a challenge, then this is a good way to loosen up those rusty knots. As you study Latin, both hemispheres of your brain are given workload. Because you’re also translating written works as you study, your brain improves in the following cognitive areas:

  • Adaptability
  • Memory
  • Logic

If you’re really serious about learning Latin, it’s a rewarding journey that will leave you feeling self-fulfilled and a better version of you for it.

5. Learning Latin Helps You Excel in your Career

There are many professions today apart from the fields of Religion, Art, Literature, and History that uses Latin. In fact, many of the major careers in the world today still have quite a wide trace of Latin in it. These careers include those in the field of Medicine, Politics, Law, and even Engineering, Math, and Sciences.

In the field of law, for instance, you’ll still come across legal phrases that are necessary to pen decisions or to draft written arguments. If you’re going to memorize these all, it’s simply going to be more difficult to do. But, when you speak Latin, it’s like a memory in your brain that comes naturally. You can be more effective in your pleadings when you’re able to put the legal phrases to good use.


Latin is a dead language, but it’s one that’s slowly springing back to life. It never really disappeared, as it’s always been consistently in use in many facets of life. If you’re one who loves to learn a new language from time to time, Latin is one that’s worth considering. With these reasons to back you up, learning Latin would no longer seem like such an out-of-this-world idea after all.

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This article has been written by Fabrice

Economist, linguist and investor, Fabrice is the co-founder of Cultures Connection, where he holds the position of Operations Director.