Latin Language and Literature

Why come to college in Western Pennsylvania and take Latin? For one thing, you’ll learn that the name of your new home state comes from William Penn, sure; but that “sylv-” root? That’s Latin for “forest” – hence Pennsylvania, “Penn’s Woods.” Beyond being helpful in state trivia, Latin, of course, is the language of law, theology, philosophy, anatomy, et cetera…. Students taking it are not merely majors but many are Pre-Med students, or students interested in understand the Latin Mass, or writing majors who want to get a better understanding of how language works – and in studying Latin your grasp of English grammar will grow exponentially. And in terms of Latin being an arcane, unapproachable “dead language” that has not been actively spoken in a millennium? Well, you already know more Latin than you might think: E.g., did you blink an eye at et cetera in the previous paragraph? No – and that’s Latin, literally, “And the remaining things.” Ditto e.g.: Exempli gratia, “For the sake of example.” And if we can get a little nerdy for a second: Latin is a beautiful language, full of complexity that cannot be fully captured in an English translation; and Latin literature is not only the bedrock for Western Civilization, but it set standards that we are still emulating today. Perhaps most importantly though, at the very least, in taking Latin you’ll be able to tell what Super Bowls the Steelers have won: IX, X, XIII, XIV, XL, XLIII.

Related Faculty