A Biography of the Latin Language

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Find out how the Latin language has shaped Western culture and history for more than two thousand years. Nicholas Ostler’s new book is Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin.

Weigh in: Do you think about the influence of Latin on our modern world on a daily basis?


Nicholas Ostler

Comments [8]

Mad Latinist from England

There is of course a course for learning to speak Latin as a conversational language, while learning Classical Latin at the same time. This is, like yours, also a podcast, available free on itunes

Apr. 24 2008 04:20 PM
Sean McNall from Mineola, NY

Both the itunes download and the mp3 available here for the History of Latin segment are actually audio from another segment of the show, New York Landmark preservation. Is it possible to correct he mistake? I missed the show yesterday and am particularly interested in this topic.

The Lopate Show responds: Thanks for alerting us to the problem. We are addressing it now and the correct audio should be available shortly.

Mar. 12 2008 09:55 AM
Gayle from Brooklyn

Latin is still taught in some NYC public schools. Midwood High School maintains a Latin-language program to this day. It is a required course for some students.

Mar. 11 2008 12:58 PM
JN from NJ

I recently ran across a constructed language called Interlingua. It was apparently based on words that had the most cognates across the major romance languages, as well as English German and Russian.

It looks like a romance language and is amazingly easy to understand.

Mar. 11 2008 12:57 PM
Barbara from Greenlawn, NY

When I went to High School on Long Island (1961-1965), Latin was a required language. Latin was extremely helpful, when, on a 2-week notice, I was sent to Brazil in 1964 as an Exchange Student. Relying on Latin - both words and grammar -- I was able to pick up Portuguese fairly quickly and was having conversations within a few weeks.Since then I have studied Spanish and French, and although I can't "speak" them, I can usually read the descriptions at museums and other tourist sites. So Latin has been very helpful to me.

Mar. 11 2008 12:56 PM
Stefan L from Europa


It would be nice if you could make it possible to download this show as an mp3-file! Without the ''subscribing'' or ''I-tunes'' thing.

regards Stefan

Mar. 11 2008 12:17 PM
judy from NYC

Is Mr Ostler familiar with The Secret History of the English Language by MJ Harper which claims that Latin is an off shoot of italian and not the precursor of the Romance languages?

Mar. 11 2008 12:05 PM
stealth critic from near Washington Square

Dear Leonard and Nicholas,

I use Latin daily in biological nomenclature. I also find legal Latin amusing, especially phrases like RES IPSE LOQUITUR. Other useful phrases:


Hope I spelled all this correctly!

Mar. 11 2008 08:31 AM

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