Dead languages

Top eight

Dead languages

College students at UChicago continue to study Latin, Greek, et al., because reasons.

Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93

In the last year more than 300 College students—about five percent of the student body—studied a language no one speaks anymore. Latin was the most popular, with second-place Greek trailing far behind. Asked to explain Latin’s allure, James McCormick of the University of Chicago Language Center points out that Latin is still offered at many high schools, and there’s no new alphabet to learn.

As for Old Church Slavonic, its lone undergrad enrollee could tell you it’s the first Slavic literary language, written in the 41-letter Glagolitic alphabet, and still used in some Orthodox churches.

1. Latin 240

2. Ancient Greek 29

3. Sanskrit 17

4. Old Turkic and/or Ottoman 12

5. Egyptian Hieroglyphs 11

6. Classical/Biblical Hebrew 11

7. Akkadian 10

8. Old Church Slavonic 1


Latin: nulli secunda. (Illustration by Tom Tian, AB’10)