They teach Latin at Starfleet Academy?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by indolover, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. indolover

    indolover Fleet Captain

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    In The Game in TNG, Picard speaks to Wesley in Latin.

    But since the Federation has many species in it, why teach an extinct human language? If one is Vulcan or Betazoid, why give a poo about a dead language from another planet? Isn't it a bit presumptuous to have a dead language from just one of 150 member planets?

    Unless it's a course offered only to human cadets, or those from other worlds who apply?
     
  2. Drago-Kazov

    Drago-Kazov Fleet Captain

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    Picard probably liked Coriolanus and decided to learn latin just for the fun of it.
     
  3. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    I hope they do, otherwise no one would understand the Academy flag.
     
  4. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This would be rather Earth-centric, but Latin is also a root language for many Earth languages. This could be key to being able to understand linguistics. I suppose that once the skills are learned, there could be a connection that could help with decifering alien languages or something.
     
  5. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Because the Federation and Starfleet are basically Western Civilization dominating all of outer space instead of just the world.
     
  6. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    Also, it does seem like English is used throughout Starfleet, so training in Latin (even for aliens) would be helpful to understanding the technical vocabulary that we've adopted directly from Latin.

    Personally, I have an interest in Latin (just as a hobby) and that interest served me very well when I trained for my job. I'm a dental technician and knowing a bit of Latin helped immensely in learning all the technical vocabulary of teeth, which draws heavily from Latin. Other medical and legal terminology does this even more, so, depending on what field of study a cadet is going through, I expect 24th Century Latin to be no less relevant than Latin today.

    --Alex
     
  7. indolover

    indolover Fleet Captain

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    Many? Does this include Hindi and Mandarin? :lol: In terms of overall speakers, maybe. But there are probably as many English speakers as there are French, Spanish and Italian combined (English has a lot of Latin-descended words, but it's root is not Latin).

    Just seems that Earth history/culture should not take precedence in a multi-species Federation. No more than California take precedence in the US, when it's just a state like the 49 other ones.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ahh, the perennial question, "Why learn Latin (or calculus or whatever) in school if we aren't going to use it in everyday life?" My answer: "Why use exercise machines in the gym if you aren't going to use exercise machines in everyday life?" The answer is because the exercise gives you the strength and flexibility and skills you need to handle the physical challenges you do encounter in everyday life. Studying Latin is the mental equivalent. It's strength training for your brain. It's good exercise for memory, pattern recognition, reasoning, and general mental discipline. It teaches you how to recognize the relationships between the forms and meanings of words, and that's good practice for understanding the vocabulary of any language or any pattern of interconnected forms or concepts.

    Also, I don't think it's really possible to understand English spelling without having an understanding of the Latin and Greek roots of the language. English would be a tricky language for any non-native speaker to get a handle on, and the Federation has clearly never modernized or simplifed its spelling (which is hugely implausible, but never mind that). So some study in classical Earth languages might be helpful for aliens or other non-native speakers trying to get a handle on English. Or on human names for stars, constellations, etc., as well as the technical vocabulary mentioned above.
     
  9. Count Zero

    Count Zero Says who? Moderator

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    English is not really that tricky a language to learn for non-native speakers as a general rule - obviously it might be more difficult for someone from a totally different language family than for, say, a Danish speaker, but most languages have grammar rules that are much more complex. True, the pronunciation doesn't seem to follow any rules but I'm pretty sure that there are many other languages where that's also the case.

    Latin (and Ancient Greek) was or is still part of the humanistic educational canon and is still taught at schools throughout the Western World because of that. The Federation seems to me to be the embodient of the humanistic ideals so it makes a certain sense that Latin would also be taught at Starfleet Academy to some extent.

    Star Trek is very Anglo-/American-/European- centric while our future will probably be different. I assume that the problem the OP has with the teaching of Latin at the Academy is really that in Star Trek Earth's future is depicted as being dominated by WASPs, basically. That's something that also bugs me occasionally but it's just a TV franchise and not a projection of the future.

    I don't know what the storyline of the game actually is but as a compromise, why not assume that Latin is an elective course out of many courses students can choose from and Picard knew that Wesley had studied it?
     
  10. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    Humans might be the best doctors in the Federation, hence Latin would be used as a Universal medical language, like today.
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Wesley might have taken Latin as a elective at the academy. Picard's early interest in archeology and history lead him to study it as a boy.

    It's something they had in common, and so exchanged a few phrases.

    :)
     
  12. Whoa Nellie

    Whoa Nellie Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Just an FYI, Locutus is Latin for "having spoken" or "he who has spoken." :borg:

    Warmest Wishes,
    Whoa Nellie
     
  13. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As joked about in TUC (you can't really appreciate Shakespeare until you've read him in the original Klingon), the same is true of many other more ancient texts. Nobody ever said Latin was required at Starfleet, but I think that if you want to read Pliny and Cicero, and understand all the nuances, it would be good to do so. Ditto "attic Greek" and the New Testament.

    In other (apropos) words, if you want to best appreciate ancient literature, you need to understand the language the authors wrote in. No, probably not essential for a starship commander, but it goes well with Picard's interest in archeology (or more accurately, anthropology).
     
  14. You_Will_Fail

    You_Will_Fail Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Just a silly throwaway line, it would be madness for anyone to waste time studying Latin at Starfleet Academy.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I think the real question here is, why do they teach languages?

    And I don't mean, why do they teach languages at the Academy? I mean, why bother at all, anywhere? Obviously, "language" is an outdated concept in Star Trek, having been replaced by infallible interpretation machinery. There is no value in a shared code of communication because the machinery makes all codes interchangeable. Learning, say, English is not really useful for service in Starfleet, because everything ever said (or, apparently, printed) will also be translated to your native Udmurtian or perhaps your native Obscure Muttering and Mumbling, and vice versa.

    Languages are useless, except as hobbies. Which is as good a reason to study Latin as anything else.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I always admire your posts, Timo, except for this one. As noted above, translation of ancient texts provides a poor understanding of literature compared to the original language. Even today, simple puns evident in ancient literature are indistinguishable. Short of inserting smiley faces, how are we to understand the writers' true intent, except by learning the languages in which they wrote?

    Why do you think there are so many different editions of the Bible? The New Revised Standard edition is extremely different from the King James translation. To get at true meaning, you need to go back to primary sources and original language.
     
  17. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    Of course an archaeology aficionado like Picard would probably elect to take a Latin class. Doesn't surprise me.

    Did he even say he took Latin at the Academy? Maybe he took classes on the holodeck.
     
  18. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    It could have been part of his pre-Academy education. His father seems to be a "traditionalist", so I can see Picard being made to learn a dead language.
     
  19. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    Of course, the real reason that they all learn Latin is so that when they are surrounded by evil aliens, they can chat in Latin and come up with a plan and no one else can understand what they are saying.
     
  20. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Oddly enough, it doesn't work with Romulans.