The truth is (and it pains me to say it) that Latin is not essential to a child's education; some of my best friends are non-Latin-learners who function just fine in society. What it did for me, though, was to ignite a curiosity about language which has continued beyond my days in full-time education.
Etymology is basically the study of the origins of words and, although I'm no etymologist (I'm a Classicist), I bloody love learning about where our words come from. I also delight in telling other people about the origins of words as and when I discover them. People don't always delight in hearing about this ...
Now, because I've already written a bloglet about etymology (specifically words with origins in Ancient Greek), I'll try to avoid repeating myself. If you like what you see here, though, you might like to try this one.
Have you ever wondered why the English word for a female offspring looks so odd?
I mean, look at it. Ask a young child who has never seen the word written down to spell it and you might end up with 'dorter' or 'dauta' or any number of variations, but I doubt you'd get 'daughter' because the word just can't be spelt phonetically. So why the Dickens is it spelt like that? Well, we can thank the ancient Greeks. Their word for daughter was 'thugater'. Unlike us, they pronounced the 'g', but on looks alone, doesn't their word look spookily familiar to ours?
Don't you think that's amazing? That a word we use today so closely resembles one which people were using over 2000 years ago?
THAT, my friends, is why I like etymology so much. Words and languages are changing all the time but there's something rather exciting, and somewhat comforting, about knowing that humans were using words which sometimes looked and sounded like ones we're still using now.