You Guys, Latin Isn’t Useless

My argument in favor of history’s greatest language.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

What is UP, my fellow Stuyvesant students? As a devoted student of Latin, the question that I get asked most frequently when discussing my class schedule with friends is, “You seriously take Latin? Why?” The conversation usually goes like this:

- Me: “Oh, yes, I do take Latin!”

- Friend: “Seriously? You know you’re never going to use it, right? What idiot in their right mind would burden themselves with the weight of a very dead and completely obsolete language? Wait, why are you crying? Oh my god, somebody send help. My friend is having a stroke! Help!”

In my spasms of paraphyletic shock, I am unable to explain why Latin isn’t at all a useless language. I’m writing this to make up for all of those times I couldn’t. This is for you non-believers, for I’m about to end your whole career.

It makes you look like a total scholar on college apps.

When admissions officers see Latin on your portfolio, bolded on your Common App, they will surely think, “Damn! This student has some class! Who cares if he flunked every class and literally the only thing under ‘Extracurriculars’ is just the word ‘Boats’? He has mild proficiency in a dead language that gives the privileged yet another chance to elevate themselves among the common folk. What a scholar. He’ll fit right in with the rest of our incredibly wealthy and snobbish students.” So, does Latin make you Harvard-bound? That’s a big boy “yes” right there.

Gloating rights.

If you take Latin, you immediately have the high ground when it comes to being snobby. Whenever someone attempts to flex on you with their pragmatic choices in the era of new information (e.g. taking actually useless languages that practically no one speaks—like Spanish and Chinese), you can evoke that British-accented traditionalist inside of you. Recall the good old days when Latin was the language of the scholar, classicalists respected ancient civilizations, and ethnocentricity was still a viable excuse to reject the new and fester in the old.

Latin shows up everywhere.

Think about it. Every single romance language, like Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese, is derived from Latin. Even English, a Germanic language, derives over 50 percent of its vocabulary from Latin! Now, why is this useful? Um…

Any school motto.

Stuy kids should know this! The school motto is in Latin for God’s sake. Have you ever heard something so grand as “Pro Scientia Atque Sapientia”? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to translate that? Probably. I haven’t yet, but I’ll get there eventually. I have a whole two more years! Two... more years. Of just Latin… Great.

Another thing to consider: Stuyvesant cherishes its Latin department, offering a single teacher to educate and enrich Stuyvesant’s aspiring classical philosophers. There’s also… also… the classics club! This quaint little after school activity touches the hearts and minds of all who attend. Local freshman and classics club attendee Angus Fishhook said, “What? No, I just come here to study for tests. Do I have a passion for the language? No. Who let you in?” What a great club.

To conclude, Latin is definitely not useless, and in the words of Dr. Brockman, the best Latin teacher, “What? No, you’ll never—(oh, you’re writing this down?) Yes! It is a skill that you will value for the rest of your life, one that you will want to have under your belt.” (“Was that good?... Okay, get out of my room.”)