Another US school gets Latin into their local paper

Franklin Park Herald-Journal

Fr. Dwight Campbell stands in the front of the second-floor classroom wearing black cassock and white collar.

“Medicus,” he says to two-dozen students in school uniforms. “What do you think that means?”

This year, Campbell began teaching Latin to seventh and eighth-grade students at St. John Vianney School in Northlake. While Latin remains the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, the school is more interested in how knowing Latin will assist its students in their understanding of other languages.

“It will help them study one of the popular languages such as French, Italian or Spanish,” Campbell said. “It’s good for the English language as well. Many of our words are derived from the Latin language.”

Stephanie Ondrla, an eighth-grader, agrees.

“Some words, they come from Latin,” Ondrlad said. “The gift is dona or donate. Rosa is rose.”

Latin developed near the River Tiber around the eighth or ninth century BC. As the Romans conquered much of the world, they brought their language with them through Europe and the Mediterranean.

While the Roman Empire began to crumble around 250 to 550 AD, Latin remained a language for the educated in the west. It was also adopted as the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. Today Latin is still used in philosophy, medicine and law.

It’s a bit challenging to learn.

“It’s a more technical language,” Campbell said. “In Latin, the nouns change from male, female and neuter. In Latin, the verb comes at the end of a sentence.”

As a dead language, it’s tough to use Latin to express contemporary concepts like basketball or hip hop lyrics, though Campbell says its possible.

“There are modern lexicons in Latin,” Campbell said. “It requires the creation of words.”

Ondrla likes learning Latin partially because it makes her unique.

“Not many people get a chance to learn Latin and we do,” Ondrla said. “It’s kind of fun to learn something else.”

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