At my mother’s insistence, I took French in high school. I think she thought that all proper young ladies spoke French, despite the fact that all the cool kids took Spanish. I regularly took comfort in the fact that at least I wasn’t one of those dorks stuck learning Latin. Fifteen years after the fact, I think my mother recognizes the error of her ways in not allowing me to take Spanish and thus learn to communicate with half of my fellow countrymen and women; I, on the other hand, am fully remorseful for having so heartlessly dismissed the beauty of Latin.
Latin is so delightfully nerdy sounding…and looking. While I still don’t know any, and could never converse with Marc Anthony or anything (wait…that’s J-Lo’s husband. I think I mean Mark Antony?), the Internet offers plenty of sites that have numerous indispensable phrases translated from English into Latin. The site listed above is one of my favorites.
If I were wandering around ancient Rome looking for a loo, I would print this page out before time traveling, and then get a kick out of asking locals things like “Visne saltare? Viam Latam Fungosam scio,” (“Do you want to dance? I know the Funky Broadway”) or “Vidistine nuper imagines moventes bonas?” (“Seen any good movies lately?”)
Incidentally, Latin is always a classy choice for a gravestone. I think about what will go on mine probably more than I should, and for sentimental reasons—it was my father’s favorite refrain, when I was 6 and relentlessly asking him for a pony—I think I’ll have the words “Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure” engraved on my stone. My lesson for the ages? “I can’t hear you. I have a banana in my ear.”