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Latin no longer to be a compuslory subject for students of German

As from next year, students of German at the University of Zurich will no longer have to study Latin.
It was decided last year that the study of Latin was no longer necessary if studying the history of art, philosophy, English and Rhaeto-Romansh, the language spoken by some 20,000 in eastern Switzerland. Now it has been decided that students on both bachelor and master’s degrees at the Department of German will no longer have to study the subject, either.
It was a group of professors of German at the university who called for the end to these compulsory courses in Latin and last Friday, a Faculty Committee agreed.
Not surprisingly, there was much discussion prior to this and as many as 70 professors, lecturers and students at the Universitas Turicensis outlined their objections to the move in a stiff letter, in which they expressed their concern and incomprehension that the study of Latin was to be dropped. They pointed out that the language was of central significance in studying and conducting research at the faculty. “Let it not be forgotten,” they argued, “that German literature is not always in German,” as they cited the names of authors such as Opitz, Flemming, Gryphius and Klopstock, who wrote some of their works in Latin. They also felt that the end of Latin as a compulsory part of the courses would mean students might lose any interest in studying many German authors of the period between the 13th and 15th centuries. Furthermore, they felt the argument that many future students would be put off studying German if they had to study Latin at the same time did not hold water, bearing in mind there were currently 1,500 of them. Also against the move was the Forum of Ancient Languages, many of whose members are teachers of Latin in the city’s grammar schools. They feared the move would lead to far fewer pupils studying Latin at school and pointed to studies which indicated that those pupils who left school having learned Latin showed deeper understanding of culture, literature and language in general. “It is these aspects which are of inestimable value for students of German,” they maintained.
As this article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung went on to explain, the Philosophical Faculty said that the study of Latin was still a requirement for students of history, French, archaeology, musicology, religious literature, Greek, and Latin itself, of course. Furthermore, they pointed out that knowledge of Latin and other ancient languages would remain among the pre-requisites for the study of many other student programmes at the university.         

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