‘Classicus’ pertaining to the highest class. (New Oxford Dictionary).
Latin is seen by many as a useless, tiresome, dead language. But this is not a universal belief. It is highly respected by universities and by educated employers. Few subjects can match Latin in prestige, for it is a classical language.
We use the word ‘classical’ to describe something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. Something which sets an exemplary standard. Latin is classical because in structure and quality sets a standard of the highest class.
For all the talk of Latin being a dead language, deep down most of us are in awe of what it represents. To give an exaggerated example to make the point: - however foolish a person may appear to be, however lowly is his job or trade, if we were suddenly told that such a person was a competent student of Latin, his standing in our eyes would soar, albeit reluctantly.
In studying Latin, we gain a far greater understanding of the English language due to the fact that so many English words, thousands of them, are rooted in the Latin language. Furthermore, the much higher level of grammar required and the thought structure behind Latin is hugely beneficial for those who take on the challenge of learning this language. (It is even more beneficial when the student actually learns to like the subject which is often what happens after a short while.)
To summarise: Knowledge of Latin is considered to be a mark of academic distinction because of the educational and intellectual process involved. As this language is not often seen in an applicant's record of academic achievement, employers and universities will take note, when they do see it, that the applicant is one of the few who took on and successfully passed a challenging subject which is held in the highest esteem by educated people across the world.
All education, of course, plays a role in educating and sharpening the mind, but some subjects do this more effectively than others. Latin is up there, at the top of the ladder, in carrying out this task.
Mr. Andrew Tardios, LL.B. (Hons.), B. A. (Hons.), Cert. Ed.