Latin, Here to Stay
Letter to the Editor, New York Times, April 14, 2013
Re "Latin Makes an Appearance on Finnish Radio. News at VI" (Helsinki Journal, April 9):
Like the United States Marine Corps, Jukka Ammondt, a university lecturer, remains semper fidelis to the lingua franca of Western civilization, Latin. But the educator's predilection for alma mater Italia's ancient tongue isn't just a "symbolic" flight of linguistic fancy.
In addition to serving as the foundational lexicon of the law, science, medicine and governance, Latin is hard-wired in the American national character. From the founding fathers' res publica to E pluribus unum, which adorns the Seal of the United States, to our notion of citizenship (Civis romanus sum), the vernacular of Virgil, Cicero and Ovid is no terra incognita.
Ceteris paribus (all else being equal), a knowledge of Latin helps us appreciate John F. Kennedy's reference to our "ancient heritage." And scientia est potentia: knowledge is power.
ROSARIO A. IACONIS
Mineola, N.Y., April 9, 2013