I wish we'd give up on Latin. Other than its use by monks and nuns in monastic and cathedral schools during the Middle Ages, it's a language that's been dead for 1500 years.
When these religious schools eventually evolved into the first universities around the time of the Renaissance, Latin continued to be used because it was a common language of learning that allowed communication between people from different regions of Europe. So that's why we have this dead language clinging to existence more than 1500 years after the fall of Rome.
Let's look a little deeper into how pointless it is to continue using this dead language that hardly anyone in the world is able to write, understand, or speak.
Singulars and Plurals
It used to be annoying having to remember obscure Latin singulars and plurals like antennae, vortices, criterion, matrices, addenda, cacti, and so on. As if English spelling isn't enough of a disaster already, then we had these plurals from a dead language to deal with as well. Fortunately these have now been largely abandoned in favor of simple English plurals with an '-s' or '-es' on the end of the word.
Every body part of every animal is named in Latin. The 16th century scholar Andreas Vesalius is considered the father of modern anatomy and can be credited for expanding the use of Latin in naming body parts. Vesalius was actually born in Brussels and spoke Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, and his name was actually Andries van Wesel. However it was common and often necessary for scholars of his time to Latinize their names so they would be seen as recognized university academics, and could publish in scholarly journals, and cite the works of other people who had also Latinized their names.
As a former neuroscientist and someone who knows a little Latin, I know that the parts of the brain are given Latin names. Some examples of brain anatomical structures are:
- corpus striatum
- locus coeruleus
Why did early anatomists give these parts those names? Well the simple answer is they did it because they had no idea what these structures were for or what they did, so they simply named them after their shape or appearance. That's right! Those Latin names are actually just names for the shape or appearance of the parts they describe. Here are those words again in English:
- sea horse
- striped body
- blue spot
The term "binomial nomenclature" is another Latin term which literally means "two-name name-calling". Binomial nomenclature is the system of naming all living things using two Latin words to uniquely identify that living thing. It was invented by an 18th century Swedish professor with a German name called Karl von Linne. Linne was like other scholars of his time in that he Latinized his name. Thus he's always referred to as Carolus Linnaeus. He was the first and most well known taxonomist: a classifier and namer of biological organisms. Most biologists don't even know that his real name was not Linnaeus.
Why not English?
Today in the early 21st century the language of learning and science is English. It's certainly not stupid old Latin. So why are we still using this old Latin crap? Well obviously the main reason is historical. The other reason is that university academics are actually not the forefront of all that's new and great in the world, and due to their isolation from society, and the traditionalist system in which they're embedded, they're stuck in these old ways. Like I've said earlier, if you've ever talked to monks or nuns you'll quickly find they're very ignorant people due to their sheltered life and isolation from the outside world. From my 17 years experience in academia, I found that the same thing can be said of university academics, and it's true that I myself was kept ignorant by the isolation of academic life. Academics like to think they're at the forefront of change and progress, but in reality the sheltered academic lifestyle has coddled them and turned them into ignoramuses (or is it ignorami?). Their academic freedom means they aren't required to adapt and compete in response to external cultural and economic forces. So progress at universities tends to happen only at glacial speeds: for example, they're still using Latin from the Renaissance period for fuck's sake! Most of the research that happens in the world today doesn't happen in universities, even though most academics seem to think that universities have the monopoly on research, but that's only because most of them have never worked outside of one.
The solution is simple. Stop using Latin altogether. Abandon Latin plurals. Make a new binomial system using English words. Start naming parts of anatomy using English words. Once we do this, the names of things will actually make sense, rather than being some jargon in a dead language that no one understands, and that people simply repeat like parrots with no idea what they really mean. Stop this idiotic monopoly of university academics naming things in Latin. In fact, most academics don't even know any Latin, they just mouth the words, often mispronouncing them, just so they can fit in and give the appearance of being intelligent and educated, when in fact the opposite is more likely to be true. Often they take Greek words, or words from other languages, or even the names of their research buddies that they want to impress, and they Latinize them for use in naming things, such is the ongoing insanity of this academic Latin craze.
It's time to let Latin die for good. The sooner we can wrench education and scholarship out of the restrictive hands of university academics, the sooner we can get rid of Latin, and the sooner we can make better and more meaningful progress in the world.
- Dave Bad Person
- Dave Bad Person
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