A living language
It is, famously, a dead language. But it seems that Latin is on the brink of* an unlikely comeback. Pope
Benedict XVI is about to authorise wider use of the Latin mass and the managers of the Vatican bank
have put instructions in Latin on the cash dispensers in St Peter’s.
On Sicily, meanwhile, Latin is being heard in homes in the city of Catania for the first time since the
Arab conquest in the ninth century. Students at the university there have launched a news programme,
Nuntii Latini Italici
at 7 pm. One of the newsreaders is Alessandra Jacono, unsurprisingly perhaps a student of classics., on their campus radio entirely in the language of Virgil. It broadcasts every Friday
‘We broadcast four or five stories on national and international issues,’ she says, ‘but the point is not so
much to offer the news as to give people a chance to hear a beautiful language.’
The idea came from a group of enthusiasts who debate in Latin at the university. They had little
difficulty thinking of words to deal with the modern world – a computer, for example, is a
The idea is to familiarise people with hearing Latin. Instead of taking hours to translate 20 lines, they
want people to pick up a Latin book and read it naturally.
The Latin news is also available on the university radio’s web site. ‘Last Friday’s edition still isn’t there
yet.’ says Jacono, but what is a day or two after more than 1,000 years?computadoriu.
*on the brink of: extremely close to
adapted from “And now for the news ... in Latin” (The Guardian, 21st March, 2007)
1. Add True or False, quoting the relevant information from the text to justify your answer.
1. A lot of people speak Latin in Catania.
2. The students want to encourage people to speak Latin again.
3. The students have had to invent many new Latin words.
2. Answer the following questions according to the information given in the text. Use your own
1. Why is Latin becoming more popular again?
2. How will the news programme help people with Latin?(2 points)
3. Complete the following sentences. The meaning should be the same as that of the sentence
1. ‘People don’t realize how beautiful the language is’
Alessandra said (…)
2. Latin is more popular now than it was ten years ago.
Latin wasn’t (…)(2 points)
4. Write a composition with the following title (80 -120 words):
‘The importance of minority languages.’ How important do you think it is to save and to
encourage the use of languages which are not spoken by many people?
You should include a personal comment in your composition. (3 points