I exchanged a few emails with Lori at Dusty Pages, concerning our mutual love of mythology, language, and word origins. While I never took Latin, I took a couple of classes in college about medical terminology, in which we learned Greek and Latin roots. Those classes have served me well over the years, because if you know the root, you can often figure out the meaning of a word, and it doesn't apply just to medical terms. My Dad took Latin in high school, and he feels the same way--he's often able to figure out the meaning of a word just by knowing the meanings of the Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
After thinking about all that, I was inspired today to put off my book about the Mafia (Don't be mad at me, bad guys! Please!) and go through a book I have about Greek and Latin roots. It's a small book, but I've enjoyed working on it this afternoon, and there are even little exercises to do! I have another, more extensive one about medical terminology, and I might start that one tomorrow. There's all kinds of homework in that one! Oh boy, fun stuff!
I'm sure it sounds strange of me...but the structure of words, how a prefix can change the meaning, the fact that Latin is FAR from a dead language, as we use it every day...I love this stuff. After all, a little learnin' ain't never hurt nobody!
Here's a neat example: malaria. The word comes from the Latin words malo or mala meaning bad, and aria meaning air, literally (and obviously), "bad air." This is because ancient Rome was often plagued by malaria outbreaks, and at the time, they didn't know it was caused by a parasite. They chalked it up to the miasma arising from the swamps and lowlands during the summer months, and rich Romans would quite literally "head for the hills" during that time to escape the disease. Of course, it wasn't the bad air coming from the swamps, but the mosquitoes that bred there.
See? Isn't that some cool stuff?