The following comes from a July 16 story on the Catholic News Agency website.
With media outlets taking notice of the unexpected success of the Pope’s tweets in Latin, a scholar conversant in the language finds it remarkable that so many are interacting in the “dead” tongue.
With 123,000 followers, @Pontifex_ln is actually seen by more Twitter users than are the Pope’s tweets in Polish, German and Arabic. Not only are the tweets being read in Latin, some users are responding in kind.
“It’s quite remarkable that the Latin Twitter account is so lively,” Dr. Timothy Noone, a philosophy professor at Catholic University of America, told CNA June 26.
“Insofar as you consider Twitter as just a new way to communicate, I’m not too surprised. What’s more surprising is how many people still feel comfortable writing the Latin language.”
“That’s a bit of a surprise, and very pleasing, actually,” added the scholar, who specializes in medieval metaphysics and epistemology, and in particular the thought of Blessed John Duns Scotus.
Twitter is used to send short messages, restricted to 140 characters. Noone said this length requirement means that tweets can be either “pretty mundane” and “everyday communication,” or “extremely profound.”
“You can say something extremely profound, but in a way that’s cryptic, like an aphorism.”
Pope Francis’ latest Latin tweet – or as Father John Zuhlsdorf has suggested, “pipatum” – reads “Domine, largire nobis gratiam plorandi indifferentem animum nostrum necnon immanitatem quae in mundo et in nobis insaeviunt.”
It is a translation of the same day’s English language tweet, “Lord, grant us the grace to weep over our indifference, over the cruelty that is in the world and in ourselves.”
The rather high level of interaction with the “pipati” counters the claim that Latin is “dead,” Noone said. He noted that he and several of his colleagues can speak the language, and that other languages which had fallen into the disuse typical of Latin have actually been revived.
He noted Irish Gaelic, which was spoken by less than three percent of Irishmen in 1922, but by nearly 40 percent today; and Hebrew, which was used only by rabbis and particularly devout Orthodox Jews, but is now the national language of Israel.
“It’s not true, what people tend to assume: namely that when a language has gotten below a certain threshold that it is impossible to revive,” Noone said. “The counter examples are pretty clear. If there is a concerted effort with will and resources it can be revived to being read, written and spoken. This can be true of Latin today.”
He said this, noting that “it would be hard to overestimate the importance of the Latin language for understanding Western culture.” Any important work of medicine, literature, poetry, philosophy, or theology written in the West from 400 to about 1450, “will have been written in Latin.”
….Benedict XVI began tweeting in December in eight languages, the most popular of which are by far Spanish and English, at 2.8 and 2.7 million followers, respectively. Papal tweets are also sent in Italian, Portuguese, and French.
Latin was added as the ninth language for Papal tweets in January, after the Vatican received letters and tweets requesting the addition.
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Once again there is only one way to revive Latin and that is to restore the Traditional Latin Mass to all of our altars in the world. Laitn will never die, most people don’t understand we use it in our everyday English language!!!
Forma ordinaria Missae in lingua Latina aeque valet gratiam. Gratia vobis et pax adimpleatur in cognitione Domini nostri.
Janek: I am in 100 percent agreement with you. Problem is: Where can you find a priest nowadays who knows Latin? Most I dare say are too indolent to make the requisite effort to learn this ancient sacred tongue. Its destruction was no accident. It was a deliberate move to de-Romanize the Catholic Church and rob it of its most unifying and unique feature. From all the available evidence, the modernists have succeeded. Latin is indeed a “dead language” now. The modernists destroyed it, just as effectively as the Visigoths sacked Rome.
Remove English in i’ts totality, return to Latin for all forms of communications!!!
TEM, you’re making progress in that you are admitting that eradication can be a good thing. Eventually, you’ll advocate eradicating homosexuality.
Lex Godwini de Californicam Catholicam Diurni invocatum est!
TEM: Has anybody ever told you that you are crushing bore with your inane blather?
Latin seems to be slowly returning to high schools and is supposed to be taught in seminaries, I thought. Even in primary school, students liked to learn it but the unfortunate thing was that some principals hate it.
There are two four-year-olds in my family who are learning Latin words, including the Our Father in Latin. It is a good way to whet children’s appetite for the language.
A language is dead if most people can not understand it THROUGH HEARING IT. It can remain a literary language being deciphered through the eye. A dead language can be turned back into a living language simply by teaching it AS A LIVING LANGUAGE, ie, THROUGH HEARING. Such was with Hebrew in its modern expression and Gaelic with far less success. Good luck with Latin, especially for large numbers of English speakers BECAUSE MEANING IN ENGLISH IS THROUGH WORD ORDER NOT WORD ENDINGS (called inflection) AND IS RADIDLY LOSING THE LITTLE THAT IT STILL HAS LEFT. (this is also the reason why the new translation of the Roman Missal is so choppy and hard to HEAR WHAT THE MEANING IS — and even reading it at times — because it slavishly PRESERVES THE LATIN WORD ORDER WHICH VIOLATES ENGLISH RECOGNITION — the CONTENT, however is a great improvement).
CONTENT is the most important!
God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher
The tongues of angels should be learned also.
Uh, no, I don’t think Latin is the answer to the Church’s many problems and humanity’s pleas and prayers for help. We have enough problems communicating in English much less switching to an exceptionally difficult dead language. Latin is swell for Vatican insiders and language buffs, but beyond that let’s step up communicating in a language that the world understands; you know, vernacular.
Good Cause: The Latin used in the Tridentine mass is NOT the classical Latin of Cicero. I learned most of the Latin prayers when I was still a young child. I still use my old Father Stedman’s Sunday Missal even today. Since the severely abbreviated novus ordo mass is so incredibly boring, I find it easy to fill in the gaps by reading the original mass while the congregation spends its time in long drawn out chants. With minimal practice, anyone can learn church Latin. It is really quite a beautiful and sonorous tongue! It has been our sacred tongue since Saint Jerome translated the bible into Latin subsequent to the great historic power shift from Byzantium to Rome. Too bad Vatican 2 tossed it into the dustbin!