TJCL Torch April 2019 Torch - Page 8

Many people see learning language as a way to connect to others and thus look down on learning Latin since it is not spoken on a daily basis. However, Latin classes have provided me with countless opportunities to build connections. In fact, the word “connect” comes from Latin terms that mean to bind together, and indeed, through my Latin learning experiences I have been closely joined with my classmates, ancient and modern scholars, and various languages. Starting with my exploratory Latin class in seventh grade and continuing to the Aeneid class I am currently taking in my irst year of college, each step in my Latin learning journey has brought me close to my classmates. Latin classes have always had a way of providing unique experiences that cannot be found in other settings, from silly songs and sayings for memorizing declensions to reciting the iconic opening lines of the Aeneid to learning about Roman history and mythology highlights. Rehearsing skits, playing certamen, making up cheers, and traveling together for state Conventions have further knit us together as a community. Even though I was not in a Latin class in my senior year of high school or in my irst semester of college, as soon as I started my Latin course this semester, I immediately felt at home immersed in the language and knowing that we likely all had similar experiences. Since then, I have grown closer to my classmates as we have worked through our translations, recitations, and presentations with the support of our professor and his entertaining commentary. Furthermore, since Latin classes are focused on preparing us to translate writings rather than to use the language in daily conversation, I have been able to read many original pieces of prose and poetry in my classes. Reading the original works reveals beautiful and subtle details that English translations cannot always reproduce. I especially enjoy hearing poetry out loud and learning about the nuances brought out by the sound of the verses. Every time I read Latin literature, I feel connected to all the other people throughout history who have also taken in and thought about the same words. Thus, Latin ties me to scholars throughout time and space. Finally, knowing Latin has given me a window into understanding languages. With English words, I can o ten identify Latin roots, which feels like having a behind-the-scenes view of the vocabulary, and I can also generally glean the basic meanings of simple romance language texts. Learning various grammatical elements of Latin has allowed me to solidify my my grasp of English grammar and comprehend discussions of linguistics. More broadly, learning Latin has prompted me to consider how languages and communication work. For instance, word order seems essential to conveying ideas in English, but Latin o fers a di ferent approach by encoding more information about each word’s role within the ending rather than in its position. Thus, through understanding Latin, I feel closer to other languages as well. Overall, learning Latin has helped me connect to my classmates, to scholars across time, and to many languages, and I can’t wait to see the connections it builds for me in the future. - Rachel Fan, Vanderbilt University; White Station High School Class Of 2018 8