The National Latin Survey 2013

On behalf of my friend and Chicago colleague Elliot Goodman (now at Columbia), I would like to direct your attention to the National Latin Survey! This high-impact survey has been wanting for nearly a century, and a few minutes your time (whether student or teacher) could transform the future of Latin curricula nationwide.
Quid est?

The last national survey of Latin students and teachers was conducted in the 1920s by the American Classical League. The purpose of the National Latin Survey is to survey middle and high school students and teachers all across the United States and find out the many different reasons why people study and teach Latin.

Quid meī interest?

Your opinion is important because what you say may help authors write new Latin textbooks and provide Latin teachers with valuable information. To access the survey or for more info, please click one of the links below:



Quō petit?

The long-term goals of the project are to produce at least two reports describing the findings; one report will be a full needs analysis study including all the statistical formulae for the applied linguistics community and the other report will be written for an audience of Latin teachers with no knowledge of statistics.  These reports will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals and be made available to the public for free on the project website.

If you are a teacher and would like your students to participate, please e-mail to request student surveys.

Latin Derivatives: Direct and Indirect

I trust that if you’re reading this, you understand that many English words ‘are derived from’ Latin counterparts, though we can further distinguish this by stating that there are two varieties of derivation: direct and indirect.

Direct Latin derivatives (for instance ‘fact’ from the Latin factum) are more or less coequal adoptions, whereas indirect Latin derivatives (such as ‘feat’ from the French ‘fait’ from the Latin factum) feature a few sound shifts which echo the modifications of the mediating language. Another example: from dāta we have both ‘data’ (direct) and ‘date’ (indirect, through Old French ‘date’).

[A more interesting etymology, while we’re at at it: the English homograph ‘date’ (the fruit) is from the Old French ‘datte’ from the Old Provençal ‘datil’ from the Latin dactylus (the same fruit), so named because it resembled the human finger and/or because this word resembled the Semitic names for date palm: deqel/daqal, etc, which have nothing to do with fingers.]

If you’d like to rabbit-trail even further, here’s a post offering the Latin names of the five fingers, including the pinky finger, whose name made my day: (

If anyone knows of a Latin derivative which is indirect but not mediated by French or Old French, I would love to see it in the comments below.

The Essential AG: 19n2