Can Twitter Cope With the Long Lost Latin Language?


The past year or so has seen the Vatican become more and more technologically adept. The Pope sent his first tweet back in June 2011 (BBC News), through the Vatican news Twitter account. At the same time an online news portal was set-up, as well as YouTube and Facebook accounts.

Since then multiple @Pontifex accounts have been created, through which tweets are sent in 9 different languages, each tweet personally approved by the Pope himself. Overall the @Pontifex accounts have around 2.5 million followers, with the majority following his English account.

Pontifex means “pontiff” or “builder of bridges”, and building bridges is what the accounts – as well as the rest of the social media efforts – are trying to do.

The Vatican has made a real push into bringing back Latin. In November 2011 it launched a Latin Academy within the Vatican, which aims to “promote the knowledge and study of the language from classical times to the present day” (BBC News).

In-keeping with the big Latin push, the Pope recently sent his first Latin tweet (BBC News). This has caused a surprising wave of questions to be thrown out on to the web – the main one being ‘Is Twitter the right place for Latin?’.

@Vickybeeching's tweet

Vicky Beeching (@Vickybeeching) is a theologian who is researching Internet ethics, and has a very keen interest in social media within Christian communities. She asked her Twitter followers what they thought of the Pope tweeting in Latin.

The responses were very varied, @revdchris said that it is “not outdated, not pointless, but rather transcends the stereotypes and encourages rich learning”, whilst another tweeter – @teresaaturner – said that it was “totally pointless and outdated, nobody speaks Latin he should be using language relevant to today”.


It seems that there are a lot of strong opinions about this, but to me it all seems a little bit too much fuss for what it is. I know that the Pope is an example and the main representation of the Catholic Church, and that means that his actions are very important. But why does that make latin tweets any more different from any other language. Whilst it is true that Latin is not really a living language anymore there are still those do understand it and see it for it’s traditional value.

If Twitter is able to graciously host conversation in most languages in the world, what’s so different about latin?


And anyway, as @SteveRHolmes said: “Latin is a very concise language, that lends itself to pithy statements – perfect for Twitter.”

My favourite tweet has to go to @Nick_Payne, who suggested that “it would be cooler if he tweeted in Klingon, Minbari, Gallifreyan or Elvish.”


Over to you:

  • Are you pro Latin tweets? Why?
  • Against? Comment why below.


  1. JAH

    Latin tweets are fine. People will either choose to read them or not. The choice is theirs as with all tweets. I suppose the only thing is that it is quite exclusive as few people are actually able to read Latin these days!

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