More than 800 students accept challenge of ancient tongue

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Despite a nationwide shortage of Latin teachers, studying the ancient language is becoming more popular, said Glendale High’s Latin teacher, Cathy Jin. “For me, Latin is special,” said Jin, who has a copy of one of the “Harry Potter” books translated into Latin, as well as a Latin edition of “Winnie the Pooh.” “It’s like a puzzle. It’s difficult to translate it as fluidly as possible.” Jin said her students have told her that when they watch the HBO series “Rome,” they are thrilled to discover they can read the Latin graffiti used in the backgrounds, which lets them in on a whole new level of in-jokes. The Saturday event, Southern California Regional Amici Madness, or SCRAM, brought students from Junior Classical League chapters from as far away as Las Vegas to take tests on vocabulary, daily life, mythology and grammar. Amici means “friends” in Latin. Students also competed in a Latin spelling bee and track, soccer, basketball, tug-of-war and swimming. They also played “fugepilam” – literally, flee the ball, or dodgeball – and participated in sea games like “naumachia,” or water polo. A “bellum of the bands” was more alternative rock than ancient Rome, and the snacks for sale – nachos and cotton candy – would have raised even Nero’s eyebrows. Students also substituted glass pebbles for the traditional animal bones to play knucklebones, a Roman equivalent of jacks. Josh Davis, a Latin teacher from University High School in Irvine, led a workshop on armor-making, showing students how to craft a version of the leather segmentata body armor worn by Roman legionnaires out of cardboard, duct tape and Velcro. “Latin teaches them how to think,” Davis said. “Right now, in California, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are the number one (issue.)” He attributed the popularity of the ancient language to its links to medicine and law, making it seem very intellectual. “There’s a certain cachet,” Davis said. “When people find out I’m a Latin teacher, they tend to think I’m so much smarter (than before.) It’s like getting an MIT hat.” Lisa M. Sodders, (818) 713-3663 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! GLENDALE – More than 800 teenagers gathered Saturday at Glendale High School to celebrate all things Roman, proof that the ancient civilization’s language is far from dead. Or as the poet Ovid put it, “Rident stolidi verba Latina.” Or, fools laugh at the Latin language. Many teens said they initially signed up to study Latin at the urging of parents, or because they thought it would help them with their English homework or boost their SAT scores. But the challenge of studying a language that isn’t spoken so much as read and translated, and friendships with other Latin scholars has kept them in the classes. “All of my friends were taking Spanish to get an easy A and I wanted to challenge myself more,” said Amy Guttman, 15, of Palos Verdes’ Peninsula High School. “Latin was different, and I didn’t want to copy anyone else.” last_img read more