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Language to take. Latin?

  1. Apr 20, 2012 #1
    Hi, in this link I explain what my major is: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=598357

    Short version: Second semester physics major. I have a language requirement for three semesters of a language. I was thinking about taking latin because 1.) no conversation hours and 2.) Most people forget how to speak their language from college anyway and though I want to travel the world (possibly as a geophysicist), I don't know how much time I want to devote right now to learning a language and I think that know the language that most modern languages are derived from might help me if I ever want to pick up another language. I however no very little about what learning and taking latin actually entails. Maybe it'll benefit me more career- and life-wise to know a language I can speak.

    One more thing. This is a little involved so feel free not to read this... At my school, each student has a liberal learning requirement that requires them to do 5 or 7 classes in the humanities and whatnot. There's another option that has about the same amount of classes called an interdisciplinary concentration. Because I hate all things writing, I decided to go down that path. Currently, I am pursuing a concentration in Cognitive Science which will expose me to some artificial intelligence and some other cool stuff. As a physics major, I am going to be pretty weighed down with courses and whatnot, so would it be smarter to do the easy liberal learning and be done with it or to keep with the concentration. Is there any way it would benefit me for grad school?

    Keep in mind that over the next two semesters, I will be taking Mathematical Physics and Modern Physics; Thermal physics and Adv. Geology respectively. Thanks for any responses!
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2012 #2


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    For your language I'd just do whatever was easiest (did you have any language in secondary school?) and get it out of the way.

    For your other class, "I hate writing" is not an excuse to avoid it entirely. At some point in your academic or professional career, the ability to write well will separate the wheat from the chaff.
  4. Apr 21, 2012 #3
    Well, I'm still taking writing classes just less than I might if I took the regular track.

    I took spanish in high school but that requires a conversation hour and I can't think why I would want to do that to myself. I'm fairly sure that I can handle Latin if I study hard enough but what I really want to hear is from someone who has actual experience.. Thank you a whole lot though for responding.
  5. Apr 21, 2012 #4


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    Take it from me then, as a Physics graduate with an advanced degree from a prestigious institution with a job in a physics-related field (although not academia). You will not need Latin or any other language in graduate school. It may help, but English is the language of physics. You are better served, in my opinion, getting your language requirement out of the way so you can take more physics classes. I don't see why you are so scared of a conversation hour, especially in Spanish. Spanish is easy.

    Also for your humanities requirement: consider doing something non-science related. My university required the same thing and I took a class on the Art of China. It was surprisingly fascinating. I would caution you that the professor probably makes a huge difference... if you have a chance to enroll in a class that is way out of your comfort zone but the professor has a decent reputation, I say go for it.
  6. Apr 21, 2012 #5
    I would take whatever language I have already taken if I had. Otherwise, I would take Latin since there is a lot of cool stuff written in Latin (Old Bibles, old Greek (Roman) mythology, writings from numerous famous Romans, etc.). But more importantly, the language is accessible since it uses an alphabet you know and many of its words sound like English. Having more grammar rules actually makes a language simpler for foreign speakers since it expresses its meaning more directly.
  7. Apr 21, 2012 #6
    If you want to see what latin is like, watch the 'learning latin with virgil' video series on youtube.
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