There was much smug rejoicing in Latin classes this week when news of the pope’s resignation in Rome was scooped by Giovanna Chirri, the sole reporter present who was able to follow the announcement as it was made in Latin rather than wait for the Italian translation.
It’s hard to imagine something farther from modern Asian languages in space and time than Latin. At the same time, absolutely the easiest people to teach a little Japanese to are Latin speakers. Latin’s noun declensions “map” pretty cleanly over to Japan’s case-marking “particles”. Nominative = ga/wa, genitive = no, dative = ni, accusative = o. Ablative, well, that’s always a longer conversation.
This is a good moment to remember that, if you speak a little Latin or want to hear some Latin in action, the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) does a 5-minute weekly Latin news recap called Nuntii Latini, which you can listen to for free online. Some good news for Latin purists: unlike Vatican announcements in Latin, which use Italian pronunciation, the Finns use classical Latin.