If Latin died in our mouths, we'd just stop talking.
Reviewed by Preston Jones
Latin a "dead" language? Don't say that anywhere in the vicinity of B&C contributing editor Preston Jones. "If Yiddish were erased from contemporary English," Jones writes, "we'd have a hard time talking about bagels, pastrami, klutzes, and schmucks. If we dumped Dutch, we'd be without cookies, Yankees, bundles, and booms. If we bid au revoir to Hindi, we'd be at a loss when contemplating bandannas, cheetahs, jungles, and shampoo. If we said aloha to Congolese we'd have a tough time ruminating on funky gorillas, zebra zombies, and mojo boogie. Sans Arabic, we wouldn't know about algebra, algorithms, and almanacs. But if Latin died in our mouths, we'd just stop talking; or, at best, we'd be left mostly with monosyllables bequeathed to us from the Angles and Saxons—requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine." Jones is reviewing our Book of the Week, Tore Janson's A Natural History of Latin (Oxford Univ. Press).