A Deeper Understanding of English
Another consequence of knowing Latin is that it will help you better understand and appreciate English. A common complaint at this point might take the form of a question: If you want to learn about English, then why not examine English instead of Latin? Fair enough. You can certainly gain insights into English if you study its grammar and vocabulary.
There is, however, another way to look at this question. If you have ever been in an airplane, or at the top of a tall building, or even on the roof of a house, one of the first things you notice is how different things look, even things with which you might be familiar. The reason they look different is because your perspective has changed. Most of the time, our knowledge of something increases when we view it from a different perspective. The same is true of any language. With regard to Latin and English, you'll probably notice that your knowledge of Latin grammar has made you more aware of English grammar. It's also likely that you'll be more sensitive to the number of words you have to use in English in order to express even simple thoughts — and this sentence is a good example of that assertion! And while it's too much to claim that your knowledge of Latin will improve your writing style in English, it might inspire you to omit needless words, something most stylists advocate.
There are many artificial rules imposed on English because of Latin. The reason you were taught not to use double negatives or to split infinitives is due to Latin's influence. Ironically — as you now know — double negatives do occur in Latin, and you couldn't split a Latin infinitive even if you wanted to. So much for trying to make one language look and act like another one!
In addition to enhancing your appreciation of English, knowing Latin will assist you in expanding your vocabulary. You saw in the chapter that introduced prefixes and suffixes how knowledge of these “particles” (along with stems) can greatly help you figure out the meaning of a word you don't recognize. Since a whole range of standardized tests (such as the SAT) include uncommon words, students often enroll in Latin classes as a way to prepare for such tests.