Eddie and Sue Arthur

Living Languages

It is interesting to note that Latin has now become one of the official languages for Facebook.

Most of the time when we stumble upon a Latin phrase, it’s etched in stone: carved in the hallways of universities, chiseled on facades of government buildings or carefully imprinted in cathedral foyers and churchyards. The language seems almost immovable. Yet beginning today, Latin — the staid and reliable language — springs to life on Facebook.

Latin has joined the more than 70 languages we’ve made available on the site in the past two years, including some which have launched just today — Azeri, Faroese, Georgian and Nepali. Some of these are languages that millions of people speak across the globe. Others are dialects that specific communities use in select geographic areas. Still others are just for fun: “Pirate” may not appeal to everyone, but for those nostalgic for the days of Blackbeard and Captain Hook, it’s there for you in Facebook’s language drop-down menu. (Read more.)

Seventy languages is an impressive total, though when you consider that Wycliffe is actively involved in translating the Bible into 1,400 languages it helps put things into perspective. If you are concerned, I can safely assure you that Wycliffe is not doing a translation into Pirate.

Translating the Bible into an endangered language and producing an indigenous literature can help to save the language from extinction. Strangely enough, Latin is a very good example of this principle. The fact that Latin was the language of the Bible and ecclesiastic life for so many years, means that the language has survived long after the empire and people that used the language have vanished into history.

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