"Latin is, quite simply, the most utterly wonderful...thing."
So begins my favorite grammarian's introduction to his book on the Latin language. If you own a copy of Gwynne's Grammar or Gwynne's Latin, then I don't need to tell you how positively hysterical is Mr. N. M. Gwynne.
I once sent Mr. Gwynne an email. I had a question about a Latin book he mentioned in one of his talks, and that was the reason for my email.
He returned my inquiry several months later with profuse apologies because he had been hammering out day and night, I presume, the contents of his upcoming book Gwynne's Kings and Queens: The Indispensable History of England and Her Monarchs (I have pre-ordered my copy!). His entire letter was charming, and full of his usual wit, and both my daughter and I chuckled along as we read it.
Having lived in England once, and having known a character there who resembled Mr. Gwynne in more than just a couple of ways, I might appreciate his style and wit a tad bit more than some.
If you do buy his book upon my recommendation, therefore, please except an early apology should you find yourself wondering what on earth I was talking about. But I don't think you will.
To get back to my point, Mr. Gwynne writes a lengthy introduction in which he gives an irrefutable argument for the necessity of learning Latin.
Allow me to share some of his more salient points with you.
Mr. Gwynne begins by telling us that John Paul Getty, the oil magnate, would only hire salespeople who were trained in the Western classics (which would include Latin) because they could sell more oil than anyone else.
Isn't that a curious comment?
Why would someone trained in the classics be able to sell more oil? One of the traits of good salespeople is that they can build a rapport with just about anyone which presupposes they have something to talk about.
People trained in the classics are knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects making them naturally better conversationalists, at least one would think so.
Classically trained people also study rhetoric, in particular, the art of persuasion—the salesman's arsenal.
He goes on to quote an article about American's inner-city kids who were taught Latin as part of a study. It was a study in 1987 of 400 children, and even though the children in the study spent more time studying Latin, and less time on the material the other kids were learning, they were significantly better in reading, spelling, math, and science than the others.
That alone should sell any parent with school-age children on the vital importance of learning Latin.
More than half of our words in English are derived from Latin. If you Learn one Latin root like “am” which means “ love, adore” then you can immediately figure out that an English word that has “am” in it probably has something to do with loving or adoring something.
Think amorous and amateur to get an idea of how easy learning new vocabulary becomes when you know Latin.
It becomes almost impossible to miss the word’s meaning when you come across it within the context of something your reading or listening to.
Latin and Greek were once the only subjects of the upper crust British schools, Mr. Gwynne tells us, because they were considered such difficult subjects to learn that once mastered the young mind was free to tackle any other subject with ease. All other subjects were studied outside of the classroom.
These are some of the many examples Mr. Gwynne impresses upon us during his lively introduction to Gwynne's Latin. If you decide to study Latin, or teach it to your children, then it would be fair to say that Mr. Gwynne’s skillful use of rhetoric while composing his introduction, and which I have tried to convey some of here, was successful.
The good news is that teaching beginning Latin is accessible to everyone. There are many Latin programs designed for homeschooling parents that any determined parent can teach. Some of them come with video lessons too.
(My favorite beginner's program for children is Latina Christiana by Memoria Press.)
If you are homeschooling, or you have a child in school somewhere, you really should consider teaching your child Latin. I know from teaching other children that they thoroughly enjoy it.
It sounds difficult, and while it does take effort, it's exciting and fun to study Latin.
Knowing Latin will broaden your horizons and strengthen your mind. Neither you nor your children will be disappointed.
For your entertainment, I've put together ten Latin words and corresponding English derivatives for you to get a sweet taste of what it would be like to study Latin.
If you enjoyed this, you might like my free download Ten Books Every Well-Educated Child Should Read.
If you need help with homeschooling, you can schedule a one-hour consultation with me (that's usually all you'll need) http://bit.ly/2GJAZEr