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Dead languages // Is the study of 'dead' languages useful or not?


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I study (Ancient) Chinese at the University of Zurich and I'm loving it so far. In the case of Chinese, knowing the ancient form of writing helps you a lot in understanding modern Chinese and even modern Chinese culture.

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I think that it would be really interesting to study Latin. My high school didn't offer it, but another high school in my district did. I think it can be really helpful if you study any of the Romance languages, as they are based on Latin. It's definitely an interesting skill to have!

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I learn Latin in school. I really enjoy studying it because I think it will help me to learn the other languages that are based off of it.  Also, I find I can figure out the basic meaning of languages such as French and Spanish if written- like a sign or simple sentences. 

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Unless you're a religious zealot, I don't think it's necessary to learn a language like Latin. No one speaks it any more so there's no point in learning unless you want to read some old writings [mostly religious or outdated philosophy] which isn't that helpful because most of those writings have been translated to modern languages.

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Yes, I think it's very useful because it allows people to glimpse history in a more in-depth way and also it allows us to know where our words evolved from. In many cases, words tend to lose or change their meanings as time passes. The study of ancient languages allow us to keep in touch with the origins enough that we never completely lose the meanings of the modern words.

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From a historical point of view it might be interesting, but from a practical point of view, it's really good for nothing I think. My mother learned Latin in the university along with Portuguese, English and German. Guess what, Latin was good for nothing to her, she never got to use it.

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Our constitution consists of some Latin and Spanish terms which we still learn, I don't think they are useful besides showing off that you know terms which are foreign which is not really that much help.

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Latin and ancient Greek are offered as a study program in almost all Secondary schools in Belgium.

When I was in secondary school, it was considered a program for the 'smart' kids.

Studying Latin was (probably still is) also considered a good way to practice studying for when you go to University. Just like University, there is a lot of material to take in over a short period of time.

I've never studied Latin, I don't think it is very useful. I've studied Italian, Spanish and French, and even though they all have Latin as their proto-language, I can't see many similarities that would have been useful when studying the roman languages.

My knowledge of French, however, did help me with Spanish and Italian.

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The answer to this question really depends on what you mean by 'useful'.

If you accept that a language shapes and is shaped by the culture in which it exists, then the study of ancient languages is part of the study of a particular culture.

Also, like some people already said, studying the root language of a group of languages can somewhat help you in learning/understanding those languages.

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I agree sputnik. For me it's equivalent to asking, is history useful? Sure, the past might be useful for nothing, but might as well be useful for us to learn from where we came from and from our mistakes, to build a better future.

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At my old high school they offered Latin as a language study program. I think it's useful. Latin is really interesting not only as part of world history, but it is the root of a lot of different languages, so to have a firm grasp on Latin is probably beneficial in picking up other languages. You can tell how close Latin links to "sister" languages in words like:

aquatique (french)

aquarium (english)

agua (spanish)

acqua (italian)

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At my old high school they offered Latin as a language study program. I think it's useful. Latin is really interesting not only as part of world history, but it is the root of a lot of different languages, so to have a firm grasp on Latin is probably beneficial in picking up other languages. You can tell how close Latin links to "sister" languages in words like:

aquatique (french)

aquarium (english)

agua (spanish)

acqua (italian)

I definitely agree. Latin can also be beneficial in terms of Grammar. For instance, when studying French Grammar, you definitely have an advantage if you are familiar with Latin Grammar.

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Unless you're a religious zealot, I don't think it's necessary to learn a language like Latin. No one speaks it any more so there's no point in learning unless you want to read some old writings [mostly religious or outdated philosophy] which isn't that helpful because most of those writings have been translated to modern languages.

Well actually Latin is quite useful - not least because science and medicine both use it in their terminology. Knowing Latin give context and therefore aids quite a bit in learning and more importantly retaining the meaning of say the name for a particular bacteria.

Furthermore translations are seldom entirely correct. As the (horribly sexist) saying goes: "Translations are like women - the pretty ones aren't faithful and the faithful ones aren't pretty." Many, many, many misunderstandings of older works exist because people err on the side of pretty verse on the side of faithful.

Also "outdated" philosophy? Really? Alright.

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