Among all the universities in our country, the University of Kerala has the distinction of having Latin studies right from its very inception. And St. Xavier’s College, Thumba is uniquely privileged to be the only aided college in the whole of India at present where Latin is taught as part of a university degree programme. Prof. P. L. Josey who joined St. Xavier’s College in 1968 was the first teacher of Latin in this college. Those days there were only Pre-degree courses here and Latin was taught as one of the second languages. When the college was upgraded and Undergraduate Courses were introduced Latin became an additional language of the Degree programme. After the retirement of Prof. P. L. Josey in 1993 Fr. Dasappan V. Y. took over as teacher of Latin. Now more than 100 students study Latin every year who represent all the eight main degree programmes in this college. In June 2016 Fr. Larance Lucas joined the department of Latin as a Guest Lecturer.
The Heritage of Latin Language
Much of the stylistic charm of the English language, as experienced in the King James Version of the Bible, in Shakespeare and in many poets, has its parentage in Latin. To study Latin is to study the most important linguistic and literary influence on English, which has become the lingua franca of our technological world. Most of the modern languages of Western Europe are derived from Latin – and our students come to know thatLatin is very useful in learning these languages deeply. A good number of legal, mathematical, geometrical and psychological terms, and Latin abbreviations, are commonly used in English.
International Conference on Latin
Under the initiative of the Department of Latin of this college an International Conference on Latin Language and World Cultures was organized on March 11 and 12, 2010 in collaboration with the Institute of English and the Centre for Comparative Literature of the University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.The conference could create in the general public and in particular in the 350 participants who were mostly university professors, college and higher secondary school teachers, research scholars and religious leaders an awareness of the lasting impact and direct or indirect influence of Latin language and literature not only on Western civilization and culture but also on many a branch of knowledge across the globe.
Syllabus and Methodology
The syllabus of the Latin courses offered here is a beautiful combination of the Classical authors like Virgil, Cicero, etc, Church Latin and modern uses of Latin. For a student of science, Latin is of immense help in understanding the technical and scientific terms derived from Latin. The pharmacists deal with Latin terms and phrases regularly. Taxonomy is yet another subject in which Latin is extensively used. In the ever expanding world of science and technology, Latin has become an important tool. More than ever, in the present age, with its advancement in cultural studies and scientific and technological development, the importance of Latin only keeps increasing. Latin, as the Olympic motto goes, continues its race across human cultures - citius, altius, fortius, i.e., faster, higher, stronger.
Fr. Dr. V. Y. Dasappan S. J (Principal)