As the world reels from the papal resignation, the power of language gave one journalist the edge recently. Despite the cries of irrelevance from teenagers the world over, and the hours spent by lawyers combing through documents in the ancient language, Latin (the official language of the Roman Catholic church) provided an interesting added dimension to the emerging story. The journalist got the scoop about Pope Benedict’s imminent resignation ahead of her colleagues, and she was the envy of those in a professional field in which speed is key by filing her story before anyone else. Hers is a career that’s gone stellar because of a language many think has been resigned to law books and aging teachers and their dusty textbooks.
Beyond the Latin angle, there is something to be said for language as the provider of an edge. With competition so fierce and international travel so commonplace, old Mr. Franks at my secondary school may have had a point: “Keep studying, young lady. This language may be in the past but language is the future!”