Letters: Latin/Scots primer

Alasdair H MacInnes (Letters, 28 May) is quite right when he comments that learning another language is beneficial when it comes to learning a further tongue. Although Scotland’s “first identifiable language” is actually Old Welsh, not Gaelic, the principle is the same.

As I have argued before, learning Latin is beneficial in terms of the understanding of grammar, not only in that language, but in English as well.

Moreover, it is central to understanding Romance languages and technical language in law and medicine.

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It is also a prerequisite (along with French) if one wishes to study most Western literature, and writings in general, from the Classical period until the 18th century, at least.

Now, there is a written publication to be had in Europe which is published in Latin, and at least two radio stations that actually broadcast in Latin (and I am not including the Vatican in that).

It should be added that Scots is a wonderful window to the languages of the areas surrounding the North Sea, especially those of the Low Countries, as we have linguistic origins in common.

While Modern English should still be taught as the main linguistic vehicle for school children who wish to communicate with the rest of the English-speaking world, Scots vocabulary can be a wonderful introduction to other tongues that Latin cannot help with.

Teaching a combination of Latin and Scots would be invaluable for the first stage in children’s language training.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive

Edinburgh

Robert Dow’s right in his letter (28 May) about proper grammar and apostrophes. The ability of an apostrophe to show a word’s possessive nature and its ability to substitute for letters isn’t an ability to be forgotten.

Of course there is always confusion over the possessive nature of “its” not having an apostrophe when it’s really quite easy to see where it’s used.

In the age of texting of course sometimes shortening words and phrases and the use of phonetic spelling is convenient but simple rules are a good basis for communication.

After all, atheists don’t only seem to reject religion but also the rule that “e” goes before “i” only after “c”.

However, we should also welcome new words as long as they follow the rules, otherwise it would just become an omnishambles.

Bruce D Skivington

Strath

Gairloch, Wester Ross