By unlibrobrujo, in 'Latin Culture', Nov 13, 2015.
I'm curious, do you consider Latin to be a truly dead language?
It depends what you mean by "dead". As a native language spoken naturally by native speakers, it's long since dead. As a language used very widely by non-natives as a lingua franca, as it was in the Middle Ages and for a few centuries after that, it's pretty much dead as well. As a language still actually used by some people, albeit few, it isn't quite dead yet, though its decline is on-going.
Latin, as a living person's mother tongue, is dead. As a language spoken and written in certain contexts, Latin is alive. After all, Vatican City is the only country in the world with Latin as an official language, even to this day.
And it has quite a low birthrate.
Only until I have kids
That's a wonderful prospect. Having a native speaker on the scene will mean all those tricky synonyms and near-synonyms we currently struggle to separate, and all those maddening problems like how to translate "family" and "dream" will instantly cease to be problems. In fact we'll never need to remain in a state of uncertainty again about how to say something or whether something we've said is truly idiomatic or not; there'll be one person at least who'll be able to give us an infallibly authoritative verdict on the matter.
So do have children, please, and be quick about it.
I'll let you know how that goes.
As long as there's culture on this planet; as long as people still appreciate the classics; Latin isn't dead. I believe there is always going to be someone treasuring it; with all that it represents for humanity.
Latin isn't dead, but I do wonder in what form it will survive. Certainly, there should always be dedicated professionals capable of reading texts composed at the various points in Latin's long past, but for how long will there be people capable of composing or speaking in a Latin style unadulterated by modern vernaculars?
With regard to the Vatican, two words: lip service. The dedicated team at the Department of Latin Letters do their best, but outwith that "change and decay in all around I see" seems to be the norm. At the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome there was no Latin discussion group for the international gathering, all groups were of major European vernaculars. It looks very like Italian will become the de facto international language of the Catholic Church for prelates and academics.
I don't think it is. Languages die when young people stop learning them and it seems like there are lots of young people around the world picking up Latin (like me!). Latin should survive through the next few generations because so many universities offer it.
That being said, most people who study it do not become truly fluent so the degree of the language's penetration into people's minds is debatable.
This is true, though sometimes the quality of the teaching leaves something to be desired. I'm inclined to think you're right, though -- in any case, I very much hope so.
You might find this interesting. The bank machines inside of Vatican City include Latin, Italian, English , Spanish, French, and maybe German to guide you on your way to get some Euros.
Latin, really? That's quite surprising.
Well, maybe. All the pictures available seem to show only the screen telling you to insert your card. If there are further instructions in Latin, nobody seems to have put photographs of them on the web, which seems odd.
To the best of my knowledge, that is exactly correct, only the start screen is available in Latin. I'm sure I heard Reggie Foster, who did the translation, say this once.
How disappointing. I expected better from Vatican City than a mere Latinate facade.
TBH I don't think it is a façade, it's more like a cheap gimmick. I say that because, Latinity in the Vatican has been waning since before the Second Vatican Council (vide St John XXIII's 'Veterum Sapientia', 1962). Things briefly looked promising under Pope Benedict XVI, but now with Francis there is not even a pretence regarding Latinity, hence I say there is no façade.
There is probably more hope for Latin in the USA than in Rome right now. Two swallows don't make a spring, but I do wonder whether it's more than a coincidence that Fr Reggie Foster's successor in the Dept. of Latin Letters is another American, Mgr. Daniel Gallagher. Ut videamus!
The de facto language of Vatican City is Italian. An American friend who lived at the Vatican for a few years had to learn Italian for his job. I remember him telling me he would hear people speaking Latin from time to time.
The text on the automated bank machines is in Comic Sans.
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