What inspired you to learn Latin?
Latin is the root of many languages - English, Spanish, French, Italian (and I think Dutch), just to name a few. I felt like taking Latin alongside of all the other languages I want to learn would help me out, and would also be beneficial when applying to a job. Also, I like the mysterious aspect of knowing Latin, I guess. It's considered a "dead language" and knowing some of it makes you seem either a bit quirky or really smart (might even be looked at as religious, who knows?) But I don't know, I guess I felt like it would be fun and helpful in the long run!
What's your motive? I like to hear other people's stories :)
When I was a child in the 60s, most of the children in books I read were studying Latin; my parents had grown up with the unofficial 'rule' that students who wanted to go to college (back when very few did) needed to take enough Latin to have read Caesar at least ( = two years of a rigorous course). Since I loved books and the whole culture (Greek and Roman gods) that seemed to go with Latin, I couldn't wait to take it--and luckily, at my high school, there was still a Latin teacher when I needed him! (Many schools, already then, had succumbed to what was called 'relevance' and no longer offered it.) I also studied French and German in school, and loved Latin so much that I continued it in college, and also began ancient Greek. That's my story: I had a wonderful teacher in high school who encouraged us and even when Latin began to get horribly difficult (in my second year), I stayed with it largely out of love and admiration for him--only to be rewarded by a wonderful experience reading Vergil in my third and final year.
Because it's freakin' Latin! Latin -- perhaps only to those of us that weren't forced to take it in school -- has a certain mystique to it. And, as you pointed out, it's the root of the Romance languages. And as a history buff, Romans!.
Plus, as a native English speaker, the idea of a language being word order independent was intriguing.
Yes, for an English speaker there are so many "aha!" moments, when you see the root that's the basis for so many words in English (which you start then to understand more deeply).
How much more this must be the case for native speakers of the Romance languages, though! I can't even imagine...
As I understand it, there was no difference in ancient writing between the vocalic "i" and the consonantal "i" ( = the "i" before another vowel at the beginning of a syllable, as in iam , Iuppiter , Iuno , iacio, iacere, ieci, iactus , etc.). Both were written "i" . Later on, the consonantal "i" was written "j". It's become the fashion, these days, to use only the "i".
Similarly, the "u" of ubi and the "v" of visito, visitare were both written with "u": ubi and uisitare . The Oxford Latin Dictionary does it the ancient way (just using "i" and "u" , that is).
Old-fashioned educational practice started me out. I wanted to learn ancient Greek and found someone who would give a lesson a week in exchange for dinner (my wife is an excellent cook). BUT he insisted I learn Latin first. Unfortunately, in a way, I only had 3-4 Latin lessons (and he the same number of dinners), when my wife and I moved out of state because of a job change. But having bought a Latin textbook and begun study, I worked through the book to the end and continued on from there.
Definitely I don't regret learning Latin, but as far as ancient Greek goes, I only ever succeeded in learning to read Koiné (Biblical) Greek, and have forgotten much of that. :( One of these days, though . . . !
I hope you can continue to learn! Practicing is a good way to remember the things you've learned - I learned that from my algebra/geometry teacher, she took French in high school and has her iPhone set up so that Siri speaks and understands French! She taught a few of us some French too, as well as writing the date in French :P
My motive in taking Latin was to better understand English. According to my Latin teacher, English is 60% Latin. Understanding the Latin roots in English words will make me a better reader. (e.g. if tyrannus means tyrant, saurus means lizard, and rex means king; what does tyrannosaurus rex mean?)
English is 60% Latin
Not so. English is a Germanic language with a lot of French words. Yes, French comes from Latin - but Latin comes from a far older language. When you say where a word comes from you stop at the first language.
In addition many specialized words have been artificially created in science and medicine from Latin (and Greek) roots. This was to give a level playing field. However, most of these words are rare in normal conversation - even among very educated people.
I've seen a figure of 60% for words in English that are polysyllabic and come into English, via French, ultimately from Latin. Of course, English remains a Germanic language; but after the Norman invasion, a large percentage of the Anglo-Saxon words had simply disappeared, replaced by Latinate ones. Studying Latin assists one in understanding many of the roots of English words.