Many of us have seen the image above and nodded our heads in agreement. But recent news out of the Vatican suggests that Latin might be making a comeback, particularly amongst the younger generation. From the Wall Street Journal:
“Vatican official Daniel Gallagher is tasked with promoting Latin, the language of the Classics whose usage has been fading for centuries. Stationed in the Office of Latin Letters, he manages the pope’s Latin Twitter feed and translates academic books.
Now, he has stepped up his game by translating his first work of fiction: the popular children’s book ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,’ which tells the story of a boy’s misadventures in middle school.
Monsignor Gallagher hopes a Latin version of a title with such pop cultural resonance—the ‘Wimpy Kid’ series has been a huge hit with more than 150 million copies in print globally—will break through to a wider audience than the dense tomes he normally translates. His Vatican colleagues are supportive.
‘I read the original and thought it would be a challenge and could also promote the teaching and learning of Latin in a fun way,’ Msgr. Gallagher says.”
While one might have reservations about Gallagher’s choice in text, one has to be hopeful about the revival of Latin in the schools. After all, the study of Latin improves English vocabulary and also gives students a leg up in the verbal section of the SAT. It is also believed to broaden mental capacity and improve student performance in a number of other academic subjects including science, history, and foreign languages.
Given those stats, introducing Latin through Wimpy Kid might not be such a bad idea after all.
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.