Wordy endeavours

September 5, 2003

Latin is not a "detour" to learning other languages (Findings, THES, August 29) but rote learning of declensions and other grammar is.

Many English words link well to French, Spanish and even some German and Russian words through their Latin and classical Greek origins.

Latin grammar, with all its complications, however, has little relevance to many simpler modern languages. Even where a modern language has a complex grammar, it is different.

So, forget all the amo-amas-amat bit: teach the links with words such as "amicable" or the French verb aimer.

If Latin were replaced by "derivation studies", students would learn not only how an ancient word led to many modern ones, but also some geography, history and knowledge of non-Latin alphabets, such as Greek and cyrillic.

Hillary Shaw
School of Geography
University of Leeds

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