I’m not saying students shouldn’t study Latin — far from it. I am saying that students shouldn’t study Latin in order to learn about English. It’s like taking apart a jet engine in order to learn how to fix your car. Most of what you learn taking apart the jet engine doesn’t help you with your car engine.So by all means, let's teach the correct usage of who and whom. And for good measure, let's work on combatting the horrendously ignorant use of "I" when "me" is called for, as in "between you and me" (not "I", aarrgh!). But we don't need the whole enchilada of Latin for that. Also, we don't need to study all of Latin in order to learn Latin plurals and know that the singular of bacteria is bacterium and that data is the plural of datum, or learn Greek to know that the singular of criteria is criterion and the singular of phenomena is phenomenon.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
English through Latin?
In a superb post, rightwingprof takes issue with the suggestion by some that Latin should be taught to learn English grammar. RWP offers many powerful arguments, among them the obserbvation that English grammar is very different from Latin grammar. Why sweat through Latin to learn to distinguish between who and whom? The effort doesn't survive a cost-benefit analysis. I particularly like this analogy: