The Value of Dead Languages

Sometimes people question the utility of studying a dead language, but honestly, I think dead languages have just as much utility as living ones, albeit for different reasons. The value of knowing dead languages was kind of hammered home for me tonight.

My dad was on a discussion forum, and he turned to me and said, "How do you spell sarcophagus? p-h-a?" I didn't even have to think about this question; the answer was blindingly obvious. I just looked at him and said, "Dad, it's from σαρξ and φαγομαι." So, yeah, p-h-a then.

Obviously, I didn't study Greek just so I could spell English better. But having studied it I do know English better, and not just spelling either.


Andy said...

Sure. No one lifts weights because they expect to suddenly come across a barbell in the sidewalk that needs to be moved, either.

Anonymous said...

Greek is hardly a dead language. Alternatively, one could just learn to spell in their native tongue.

Jonadab said...

Common Greek has been dead for over fifteen hundred years. Modern Greek is still in use, but that isn't really relevant. By that standard Latin isn't dead either (since people still speak modern Italian) nor Sanskrit (Hindi).