The importance of Latin during the history of academia


Latin is a classical language that reached its peak during the height of the Roman Empire. Derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, it became a dominant global language as the Romans set about conquering the world. However, in recent times Latin has been considered less relevant being that it’s a dead language. In spite of that, the classical language still plays a massive role in society – especially academics.

So, why do we still need Latin these days? It died out centuries ago, so why is there still a need for it? Well, this is an interesting question, and, to get to the bottom of it we need to understand more about the language, and what it was used for. So, let’s take a look at the history of Latin, and why it is used today in certain fields of academics.

History of Latin

The history of Latin shows that there are different forms of the language. We started off with Old Latin, which was spoken in the Roman Kingdom, and which developed in Classical Latin – arguably the most common form of the language. There have been other different types of Latin as well, including Vulgar Latin, Medieval Latin, Renaissance Latin, and Contemporary Latin. Each of these forms differed slightly to the others and were adapted and updated slightly. This is because, following the fall of Rome, the Germanic kingdoms adopted the language and updated it.

Latin in science

One of the best reasons you could give for learning Latin these days is because it plays a crucial role in science and academics. In fact, these are the only remaining fields in which it remains a recognized language. The reason for that is because Latin has informed these topics as it provides the root word for all sciences. Let’s look a little closer – all modern sciences began their development during the time of the Renaissance. New science and new topics meant the need for new vocabulary and new words, and Latin was the language of the educated, especially in the Renaissance times.

Words that have been influenced by Latin

There are so many words in the English language that are directly influenced by Latin, especially when it comes to science. For instance, precious metals such as gold, silver, iron, and bronze are words that were influenced by the Latin equivalents. This is why elements on the periodic table often have different symbols or initials from what their words are. For example, the elemental symbol for Gold is Au, and that’s because the Latin for Gold is Aurum.

It’s really quite amazing to think how much of an impact and influence Latin continues to have on the world. It has its roots in Ancient Greek and Etruscan, but it has had more staying power due to its use in science and academics. And this has largely been to do with the fact that Latin was the language of the educated back in the period of the Roman Empire. We can see that it has directly influenced fields of science and medicine, and this is perhaps why it continues to be taught, and will probably never die out as an academic language.