Last week we added our 133rd language to the uTalk app – and it’s a good one!
Latin has been around ever since the year 75 BC and it has evolved from Old Latin to Classical Latin, to Early Modern Latin and finally Modern Latin. Along with Greek, its roots are used in theology, biology, and medicine right up to the present day. Romance languages, such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Romanian have developed from Latin. Later on, many words from all these languages were taken into English, so even if you’ve never actively learned it – you might actually speak Latin.
Here are a few examples of Latin words and phrases that we use regularly:
1. ad hoc: to this
Ad hoc refers to something that was created for a specific purpose or situation as the need arises, without previous planning. An ad hoc political committee, for instance, is formed specially to deal with a specific situation.
2. vice versa: the other way around
For example: “I like you and vice versa” means that you also like me.
3. carpe diem: seize the day
This phrase comes from a poem by Horace and is used to encourage people to enjoy the moment without concern for the future.
4. sic: thus
Sic is used with square brackets [sic] after a quotation indicate that an odd or unusual phrase was reproduced exactly as it was in the source, and therefore it is not an editorial error.
5. per se: by itself
Per se is used to refer to a particular thing by itself. For example: “The idea, per se, wasn’t bad; it was just the way he said it.”
6. mea culpa: through my fault
You might say this if you were admitting guilt, or owning up that something went wrong because you made a mistake.
7. circa: around
If you hear “circa” before a date or other fact, it means it’s an approximation – so for example, “This church was built circa 1600”.
8. in loco parentis: in the place of a parent
When an individual or organisation acts in loco parentis, they assume legal responsibility for a child in the absence of their parents.
We’re really excited to finally add Latin to our uTalk app. Take a look – it’s a great way to see how Latin would sound in modern day society and also to better understand how the language works.
Just before Christmas I helped our language producer record Latin, which will be coming to uTalk later in the year. Whilst listening to the Latin speakers I found I recognised some of the words (although I have never learnt Latin before). And then I realised this was due to my love for/slight obsession with Harry Potter.
As a child I would read every Harry Potter book that came out (this could take some time, as my mum would read it first, followed by my sister, then my dad and then finally me; by which point my mum would have already disclosed a summary of the book including 100 different spoilers!). The extremely clever use of Latin has helped to allow the Harry Potter stories to become even more accessible worldwide, as Latin runs through many modern romance languages, such as French and English. It is also a language that isn’t as widely used or known in modern society anymore.
A few examples of J.K.Rowling’s use of Latin:
- ‘Protego’, which is a shield charm that creates a magical barrier, literally means ‘protect’ in Latin.
- ‘Lumos’, which produces a burst of light, is related to the Latin word lumen – which directly translates into light.
- ‘Crucio’ one of the ‘forbidden curses’ which causes a lot of pain, means ‘I torture’ in Latin.
- ‘Expecto Patronum’ which is used to produce a spirit animal to shield you from dementors, translates into ‘I wait for a patron’ in Latin.
- ‘Levicorpus‘, which is a spell that suspends someone from their ankles in mid-air, is a combination of two Latin words: levare, which means ‘lift’, and corpus translates as ‘body’.
These spells are pretty self-explanatory when you know Latin!
Again, the Latin theme can be found across names used in Harry Potter, often describing their personality or role in the books.
- Remus Lupin – his surname means wolf (which Hermione worked out early on in the third book).
- Draco – means dragon although the character’s surname, Malfoy, is actually French for ‘bad faith’.
- Severus (Snape) – means ‘stern’ in Latin, which is an appropriate word for Hogwarts’ meanest teacher!
- Sirius Black – it’s no coincidence that this character’s named after the Dog Star.
- Ludo Bagman – he’s the head of the Division for Magical Games and Sports, so it makes sense that his first name, Ludo, means ‘I play’ in Latin.
Can you think of any more examples of Latin in Harry Potter?
The Junior Language Challenge 2015 launched last week, with children all over the UK learning Portuguese in the first round of our national competition. If you’re wondering why we picked Portuguese, here are a few fun facts about one of the world’s most widely spoken languages.
Boa sorte to everyone taking part in the Junior Language Challenge – and if you’re a parent or teacher of children aged 10 or under, take a look at the JLC website to find out more – it’s a lot of fun!
Portuguese facts and figures
It’s a Romance language, along with French, Spanish, Italian and Romanian. This family of modern languages derives from Latin, which was spoken in the Roman Empire – hence the name.
Portuguese is the second most spoken of the Romance languages, after Spanish, and it’s the seventh most widely spoken language in the world. That said, there are significant differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese, so make sure you learn the right one before you travel! (We offer both…)
Portuguese and English
Some Portuguese words that we’ve adopted in English – piranha, flamingo, cobra, albino, palaver, mosquito. Does anyone know any more?
Saudade is a word with no direct English translation, which means a feeling of longing or nostalgia for someone or something that may never return.
Famous Portuguese speakers
José de Sousa Saramago (1922-2010), who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998.
Luís Vaz de Camões (1524-1580), often considered the Portuguese language’s greatest poet, and best known for his epic work, Os Lusíadas.
Explorers Vasco da Gama, the first person to sail directly from Europe to India, and Ferdinand Magellan, the first to sail around the world. Some people also think that Christopher Columbus was Portuguese too, although most agree he was actually Italian.
Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Jose Mourinho, who are both from Portugal.
Actor Rodrigo Santoro and former racing driver Rubens Barrichello both come from Brazil, as did singer and actress Carmen Miranda.
Like every language, Portuguese has its own idioms. Here are a few of our favourites:
A galinha do vizinho é sempre mais gorda
Translation: your neighbour’s chicken is always fatter
Meaning in English: the grass is always greener on the other side
Burro velho não aprende línguas
Translation: an old donkey doesn’t learn languages
Meaning in English: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks
Água mole em pedra dura tanto bate até que fura
Translation: water dripping day by day wears the hardest rock away
Meaning in English: persistence pays off
Did you know?
Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, James Franco and Nelly Furtado all have Portuguese heritage.
There’s an interactive Museum of the Portuguese Language, which opened in 2006 in São Paulo, Brazil. The 12,000 square foot museum is in the Estação da Luz train station.
Portuguese was the language learnt by Colin Firth in Love Actually, so that he could ask a girl to marry him.
Thanks to London Translations for today’s blog post about the value of learning Latin!
Latin, a language that is more than 2,000 years old and is still spoken in the Vatican today, has shaped modern European languages like no other. Who would’ve thought that this medium of communication, which spread through the power of the Roman Empire, would influence language as we know it, speak it and understand it worldwide?
But why bother with learning Latin? If you don’t want to work in the Vatican, why should you learn a dead language? Surely you might as well focus on learning a modern language that actually helps you to communicate with other human beings, whether you’re travelling the world, writing emails or letters, or having business meetings with international clients.
However, despite being so old, Latin can give your language skills a real boost and help with a range of tasks, including consecutive interpreting. Why? Let’s take a closer look.
It’s a fact that almost 50 per cent of English vocabulary comes from Latin and 20 per cent from Greek. So if you know your Latin, you can derive an array of English words and improve your vocabulary in general. This applies to other European languages as well.
By getting to grips with Latin grammar, you can gain a better understanding of what grammar is about and how to apply that knowledge to other languages, making it easier to identify grammatical differences in a variety of languages.
Better learning of modern languages
If you know your Latin, it will be easy for you to apply your grammar and vocabulary skills to the modern Romance languages, such as Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian. In fact, around 40 languages are connected to Latin. That is a big pool of knowledge.
Better performance in tests
People who know Latin generally outperform people who don’t in standardised tests. This may be because a language that has so many rules can help to shape logical thinking and cognitive skills in general.
Better foundation for different career paths
Knowing Latin and Greek can help to enhance your chances of succeeding in different career paths. In some professions, it is especially beneficial. Think of medicine, the law and philosophy.
As you can see, learning Latin has numerous advantages. It is not only a language for old, sophisticated men who sit in libraries all day. It is a language we should not forget and something that is well worth teaching future generations.
(In case you wondered what ‘scire linguas’ means, it translates as ‘learn languages’.)
If you’d like to try out a bit of Latin, you can find a free demo on our website.