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In praise of - tweeting in Latin.

Just as the Twittersphere is being forced to become more open and accountable, along comes an obscure message from out of the ether.

Gianfranco Ravasi, a 70-year-old Vatican cardinal and adviser to Pope Benedict XVI on matters cultural, this week deployed the 21st-century social medium to declare to the world the ancient language of Latin is alive and tweeting.

"Hodie una cum Ivano Dionigi novam aperiemus academiam pontificiam latinitatis a Benedicto conditam, hora XVII, via Conciliationis V," read the message, which miraculously fell just short of the original 140-character limit for SMS messaging. Being one of those lucky people who studied Latin, albeit many moons ago, I could recognise some of the more obvious words such as novam and hora, but certainly not the whole sentence (which urged people to attend the 5pm inauguration of the Vatican's new Academy for Latin Studies by Ivano Dionigi). In fact I had to consult Google translate to make sense of it all. Which defeats the purpose of a tweet, which is to communicate a piece of news as speedily and clearly as possible.

It got me thinking. Apparently Latin is the subject of renewed interest around the world, yet a straw poll of my office colleagues revealed only three of us had any knowledge of the language.

Last night in Glasgow, Scotland's first Academy of Sacred Music opened with the purpose of teaching state school primary and secondary pupils Latin through the study of liturgical music – alas, they didn't tweet about it.

Will @latinlanguage catch on? Perhaps. If it were ever to become the first language of social media, we'd need to have predictive text. Then we'd soon find out that LOL is no laughing matter.

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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