Magna Carta Latina

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy demonstrates how to love a thing. This is from his introduction to his Latin grammar, which is fittingly enough subtitled ‘The Privilege of Singing, Articulating and Reading a Language and of Keeping It Alive:’

Our zeal for the great texts, however, does not imply any contempt of grammar as a weary or dry sequence of rules to be learned by rote. “His Father’s Latin” would not be true to the father’s faith if it treated language as a mere tool or, as people are impudent enough to style it, as a means to an end. Language has equal rank with literature. A tree’s leaves are no less admirable than the tree. The whole beauty of the mind’s life is as much in its tiny cells as in the most coherent creations. We would, then, commit the sin of sins, the sin against vivification, if we treated language as material, as a mere vehicle for ideas. The lists of declensions or conjugations or words themselves are sources of reverence, delight, surprise, and discovery. The details of the growth of articulated speech may well make us catch our breath. We, at least, have nowhere tried to repress our delight. Like physics and chemistry and biology, grammar is full of reality, and of the beauties and problems of reality. Languages are the revelations of mankind, and grammar is the key. In this sense, any educated person needs grammar as an introduction. This key opens the door into philosophy, law, science, poetry, and religion, in the accepted sense of these five words. For philosophy satisfies the eagerness for clarity; religion the loyalty to overwhelming values; law the power of responsible judgment; poetry allows us to sing; and science stills our curiosity about the speechless world. (vii-viii)

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