Vanguard Education is centered around the learning of seven languages, two major and five minor. One of the minor languages is Latin. The following Latin introduction was written by Dr. R. Bryan.
Latin is the language of the Romans. When the Western Roman Empire was destroyed, Latin remained as a common language for the people of the western world by which to communicate. It remained as the language of the Roman Catholic Church. It remained as the language of the Eastern Roman Empire until the capitol, Constantinople, was destroyed by Moslems in AD 1452.
Through most of the history of Europe, Latin was a language used by educated people. Those who were educated in religion, law, medicine, science, philosophy, and other fields learned Latin as part of their education. They used Latin in their field.
I also use Latin; I am a physician. I use Latin to describe body parts, and diseases, and lesions, and to give instructions. I have even used Latin to talk to people who do not share a common language with me.
I was seeing an older Italian woman in clinic one day. This older Italian lady did not speak English. I do not speak Italian. That was a problem.
Fortunately, the older Italian lady had brought her daughter in to interpret for her. Her daughter spoke both Italian and English. The older Italian woman and I were able to talk through the daughter who interpreted for us.
When I was finished examining this older Italian lady, I told her the diagnosis in English. (I told her what her problem was, in English.) The daughter had no idea what I was saying; the daughter did not know any medical English. The older Italian lady and her daughter did not know what to do. They could not understand me when I told them what the problem was. What could I do? I don't speak Italian.
I had an idea. Since Latin (and Greek) are the traditional languages of medicine, most medical diagnoses have a Latin name. I decided to tell her what her problem was, but this time to do it using the traditional medical name, which happened to be Latin. When I said the Latin name for the Italian woman's problem, she understood immediately without any need for an interpreter. It so happened the Italian name for her problem and the medical Latin name were the same.
For most professionals, Latin is a tool. It is a tool used to communicate in helping people, or accomplishing a task. As I related above, it can also be a tool for communicating to people who know Italian, Spanish or Portuguese.
Recently, those who study Latin in universities have noticed that the Latin pronunciations used for centuries in religion, law, medicine, science, philosophy, and other fields are probably not the same pronunciations that the Classical Romans used. In an attempt to go back to the way the Classical Romans pronounced Latin, "Reconstructed Classical Latin" pronunciations have come into being. Reconstructed Classical Latin is not a different language, but a different way of pronouncing the same Latin words.
Today we have two different ways of pronouncing Latin. One is the traditional way in use for centuries. This was the only Latin in use until recently. The second is called Reconstructed Classical Latin. It is the pronunciation used mostly by people who teach and study Latin in universities.
This has given rise to a dispute. Which Latin pronunciation should students learn when learning Latin? Should students learn Latin the way it has been pronounced and used for a thousand years or more? Should students learn to pronounce Latin the way the Classical Romans probably did? Does it matter?
It matters to people who teach Latin in universities. Many Latin professors look down on people who do not use Reconstructed Classical pronunciations.
It also matters to people who use Latin as a tool in their professional fields, such as law, medicine, religion, and science. They use the standard Latin pronunciations in use for centuries. If I were to use Reconstructed Classical pronunciations in the medical field, my fellow physicians would look at me like I was an uneducated idiot because I do not know how to pronounce medical terms properly.
People have strong opinions on which Latin pronunciations to use. People get angry over which system of Latin pronunciation to use. People say nasty things about each other over which system of Latin pronunciation to use.
Hmmm. Which system of Latin pronunciations should you learn?
I am a Christian missionary and a physician. I use medicines and surgical instruments to help people.
I find there is a big difference between those who study
medicines and surgical instruments, and those who use
them. I have many stories I could tell, but if I begin telling you all of my stories, you'll surely grow old and die before I am finished. Let's use only one story.
I was in a museum not long ago. They had a display of old surgical instruments, some of which I had never seen before. Even though I had never seen some of their surgical instruments before, I knew how they were used, because I use surgical instruments.
I noticed that one of their instruments was mislabeled. Two other instruments were labeled as "unknown." I told the museum staff about the mislabeled instrument. I also told them what the "unknown" tools were and what they were used for. Do you know what they did with that information? Nothing.
The museum wanted to display old things, including surgical instruments, for the interest of the general public. The museum does not use those surgical instruments, so no one gets hurt if they do not know the names of the surgical instruments or what they are used for. Thus, they could care less what they are called, what they are used for, and if they are mislabeled. On the other hand, I use surgical instruments. I must know the name of each instrument so I can tell the scrub nurse which instrument to hand me next. I must know how each instrument is used so I can do surgeries properly, safely, and efficiently.
I practice medicine in different parts of the world. Wherever I am, I must learn the names of medicines and instruments as they are called there. If I begin to insist that this drug is not called what they
call it, but what I
call it, then I am no longer a servant but a trouble maker.
Here is the point I am working toward: You do not serve surgical instruments. You do not serve Latin. Instead, Latin, surgical instruments, and every other object and language are tools which serve you: and you serve God. Through your service to God you shall serve others, whether you feel like it or not. Never let a language, a pronunciation, or any other aspect of your tools interfere with your service to God and others.
Which Latin pronunciation shall you learn? Both. When speaking to those who study Latin in universities, use Reconstructed Classical Latin pronunciation. When speaking to everyone else, use the standard Latin pronunciations which are in common use all around the world. Use the Latin pronunciation that is understood or preferred by the person you are speaking to.
In my opinion, it is easier for a student to learn the traditional Latin pronunciations first. Later you can easily transition to Reconstructed Classical pronunciations. In this way you shall know both.
An introduction to Latin and Latin pronunciations