Keeping Latin up to Date

Latinitas Foundation, Now on Internet, Modernizes an Old Language

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 22, 2004 ( What is the equivalent for “computer,” “terrorist” or “cowboy” in Latin?

A Holy See agency, now also on Internet, responds to the problems Latinists have in dealing with modernity.

“Instrumentum Computatorium” is the way the Latinitas Foundation refers to computers. Those who sow violence and terror are called “tromocrates (-ae)”; while the characters in Westerns are called “armentarius.”

The Holy See’s Web page introduces this academic institution which, among other things, offers online a brief Italian-Latin dictionary of neologisms.

The foundation has coined 15,000 new words, although it only presents some of the more common ones on Internet. To consult them fully, one must obtain a copy of “Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis,” a reference dictionary sold in some specialized bookstores.

Instituted in 1976 by Pope Paul VI, Latinitas is concerned with the use and growth of Latin, the official language of the Catholic Church, through the publication of books in Latin and through other means.

Among its main activities is the publication of the Latinitas quarterly review, founded in 1953. Written in Latin, it covers cultural topics such as literature, philology, history and the sciences. Among its features is the Diarium Latinum, which covers current events in a journalistic style.

Latinitas also organizes the Certamen Vaticanum, an international competition of Latin poetry and prose, established in 1953. The awards ceremony takes place toward the end of every year.

The foundation organizes classes in Latin with the same method of teaching of modern languages — namely, Latin in Latin. It also organizes debates, congresses and conferences on Latin culture.

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