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Latin/Latin and French

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Question
Michael, I am a freshman in high this year and am taking French. I've always been fascinated with languages and have wanted to take Latin. I may be able to take both French and Latin next year. I understand that French is derived from Latin Vulgate rather than Classical, and I understand New Latin to be more similar to Classical Latin than to Vulgate. I was wondering if you think I would be confused by taking both Latin, which I assume to be New, and French 2 Honors simultaneously. I apologize for my lack of insight, and I appreciate your time.

Sincerely,
Raymond

Answer
You won't be confused.  Many people study more than one language at a time.  In your case, the Latin will support your French studies very effectively, as French is much more closely related to Latin in forms, grammar, and vocabulary than, for example, Old English (which is now unreadible to a Modern English speaker) is related to Modern English.  I never studied French formally, but my knowledge of Latin and a basic French grammar review allowed me to read French quite well.

The difference between what scholars call "classical" Latin (e.g., Cicero) and "vulgate" (e.g., St. Jerome's Vulgate Bible) Latin is not really that great.  It is not too much more than the difference between, for example, reading the formal English of Edgar Allen Poe and the daily newspaper.  The study of Latin will give your knowledge of French more structure and develop your French (and English) vocabularly to a substantial degree.  That will be good for those SAT tests as well!

The Latin studied in schools is almost always classical Latin, based roughly around the Golden Age (A.D. 50 to 50 B.C.).  This is the period in which the literature most influential on Western Civilization was written:  Caesar, Cicero, Vergil, Horace, etc.

So, you needn't worry talking both courses.  They will support and supplement one another, not confuse you.  Enjoy!

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Michael

Expertise

Ph.D. Cand. in Classical Languages. Conversant with all forms of the language: classical, mediaeval, and modern.

Experience

I have 50 years of teaching at all levels of Latin from high school through university postgraduate. I read, write, and speak Latin daily.

Organizations
American Classical League, American Philological Association

Education/Credentials
A.B., M.A., Ph.D. Cand. in Classics.

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