Latin has been running since the school’s beginning and is a valued part of Alia’s curriculum. Students do not need to have any prior Latin experience when starting at Alia College, at any year level. We have a brilliant ab initio course. Students are able to start at the beginning and gain the advantages of the course without stress.

Learning Latin has many advantages:

  • It teaches the romance languages: French; Italian; Spanish; Portuguese; Romanian. Once Latin has been mastered to any given level it is possible to learn one of these languages to the same standard in a fraction of the time.
  • It teaches English. 60% of English words have a Latin basis or are cognate. English teachers have remarked that certain students who have done a sufficient amount of our Latin course show noteworthy improvements in spelling, sentence structure and grammar.
  • It improves the standard of other subjects. At least one study in the USA found that the students doing Latin (as opposed to another language) showed a higher improvement in their studies overall.
  • It provides a remarkable boost to the Year 12 ATAR score. It commonly has the highest possible top score of 55 (most subjects stop at a maximum of 50) and it usually has the highest average score. (By the way, this is not actually a reason for studying Latin through to VCE. It is simply icing on the cake. In VCE you are best to take subjects that you:
    1. Need for course entry; 2. Are good at; and 3. Like. Hopefully Latin would fall into one or more of those three categories.
  • It is enjoyable. Latin is the most widely elected language in the school and the first language that went to Year 12 here (closely followed by Japanese).
  • Furthermore, a knowledge of Latin derivatives often gives intriguing insights into aspects of our own culture.Take education for example; our word education relates to e-ducare meaning to educe, to draw out, to lead out. It did not imply forcefully shovelling information into the student.The Latin word disciplina did not mean punishment. It meant teaching, instruction, science – subjects in other words! Mathematics and History are disciplines. Words used by the Romans for ‘to discipline’ someone were coercere or castigare!

    To cap it all off consider the Latin word student. Would you believe that the direct translation of that word into English is “they are eager”. What have ‘modern’ education ideas come to that this seems so strange?

    It is extraordinary that so many outspoken people seem to believe that you are deranged if you think that children might be naturally keen to learn without strict coercion! Effective teaching occurs when teachers encourage children to learn and apply themselves.

    Issac & Latin teacher Hagan exploring Latin poetry as part of 2014’s school-wide Poetry Festival.


    An astonishing amount of pure Latin is used in everyday English. Its ongoing survival is due in part to the large amount of meaning that is packed into such a very small number of letters.
    Here are a few examples:

    etc. comes from et cetera which literally means “and the rest”.

    am as in: At 7.00am in the morning. This comes from ante meridiem which literally translates as “before the meridian”. Meridians are the lines of longitude running north-south through the poles. From the point of view of an observer on the surface of the Earth the sun rises in the east and travels westward across the sky towards the meridian that passes above your position on the Earth. Prior to the sun reaching your meridian it is morning!

    pm similarly is post meridiem translating as “after the meridian”.

    pa as in 7% p.a. comes from 7 per centum per annum and literally means “7 per hundred per year”.

    i.e. comes from id est and literally translates as “that is”.

    e.g. comes from exempli gratia and literally translates as “for the sake of (an) example”.

    vox pop comes from vox populi and literally translates as “voice of the people”. An older form is vox populi vox dei which translates as “the voice of the people (is) the voice of God”, meaning that leaders ignore public opinion at their peril.

    p.s. comes from post scriptum and literally translates as “after the writing”.

    inter alia literally translates as “among other things”, and is where Alia College gets its name from.

    terra firma literally translates as “firm ground”. Note that a Latin adjective often follows its noun.

    in vino veritas literally translates as “in wine – the truth” meaning wine loosens the tongue.

    veto literally translates as “I forbid”. It refers to the power of a president to stop passage of legislation. In the United Nations Security Council, the five permanent members (the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom) have veto power in substantive matters, though not in procedural ones. If any of these countries votes against a proposal, it is rejected, even if all of the other member countries vote in favour. The power of veto is credited among other things with allowing the United Nations organisation to survive for such a long time after the demise of the League of Nations which contained no such power.

    terra australis literally translates as “land of the south”, meaning Australia.

    null arbor as in the Nullarbor Plain is not an aboriginal word. The word Nullarbor is derived from the Latin nullus for ‘nothing’ or ‘no one’ and arbor for ‘tree’, and is pronounced “NULL-uh-bore”. Australia’s Nullabor Plain is almost treeless.

    pro bono literally translates as “for good” and refers to services provided free of charge to worthy causes.

    aqua pura literally translates as “pure water”

    aqua regia literally translates as “royal water” and refers to the mixture of 1 part concentrated nitric acid and 3 parts concentrated hydrochloric acid which can dissolve gold and platinum.

    aqua fortis literally translates as “strong water”. It is concentrated nitric acid which can dissolve silver and copper.

    aqua vitae literally translates as “water of life” meaning strong liquor.

    alpha centauri literally translates as “alpha of Centaurus” meaning the brightest star (alpha) of the constellation of the Centaur. This is the closest visible star to earth in the night sky. It is the brighter of the two pointers near the constellation of the Southern Cross.

    bona fide literally translates as “in good faith”.

    carpe diem literally translates as “seize the day”, meaning take the opportunity while you can. Carpe Diem used to be at the top centre of the front page of The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and was presumably its motto. After many years it was changed to “Seize the Day” but this dumbed-down version was dropped after a relatively short period, presumably because it didn’t have the gravitas of the Latin version, or perhaps The Age decided that there was no value in the sentiment.

    carpe noctem this uncommon and jocular term literally translates as “seize the night” meaning let’s party or perhaps let’s engage in evil deeds under cover of darkness.

    cave canem literally translates as “beware of the dog”. This was a common sign on gates up to about 1950.

    caveat emptor literally translates as “let the buyer beware”. This legal maxim indicated that the responsibility was on the buyer to ensure that an article was suitable before leaving the shop, after which the shop had no obligation to accept a return and refund payment. In Australia, perhaps in the 1970s or thereabouts, legislators became unhappy with traders who gave unwarranted assurances to buyers who, having accepted the traders’ promises, found that the product was unsuitable. Traders were required to tell the truth or give a refund. Laws about merchantability also dented some of the force of caveat emptor.

    caveat literally translates as “let him/her/it beware” and means warning especially on the title to a property alerting any potential buyer to a mortgage or other encumbrance on the title.

    C.V. or CV is an abbreviation of the latin curriculum vitae and literally translates as “course of life.” it refers to the résumé that a person seeking employment provides to a prospective employer giving the jobseeker’s past educational and work history; contact details and often referees. It is interesting to note that CV is from Latin, résumé is from French, and that English does not seem to have a native word for this concept.

    e pluribus unum literally translates as “from many – one”. It is printed on all money in the USA and suggests many states forming one nation or many nationalities forming one culture.

    festina lente – this oxymoron literally translates as “make haste slowly”. It was a favourite saying of the highly successful emperor Augustus and warns you to balance speed with care to avoid making mistakes that will delay your project. An equivalent sentiment is expressed by: “There is never time to do it right; but there is always time to do it over.”

    post mortem literally translates as “after death” and means a coroner’s examination seeking the cause of a death.

    terra nullius literally translates as “empty land” and refers to the fiction that Australia was uninhabited prior to European settlement and was therefore free for the taking.

    age quod agis literally translates as “do[age], what[quod], you are doing[agis]”. Schools which use this as a motto give the meaning as “do what you are doing well” despite the fact that there is no bene meaning “well” in the Latin version. Another meaning is to “mind your own business” when spoken to someone who is clearly paying attention to your business instead of doing what they ought to be doing.

    in pace requiescat literally translates as “may he/she/it rest in peace”

    A.D. or AD comes from anno domini and literally translates as “in the year of the Lord”, meaning in the years since the birth of Christ. Politically correct speak now uses C.E. instead. This is an English-only abbreviation for Common Era or Christian Era. The change from a usage that has more than a thousand years of lineage is ridiculous. The change from AD to CE is because non-Christians might be offended. Christians must of course give ground on this argument because they might in fact give offence in many ways by an assumption of superiority. The vast majority of non-Christians could not care less about AD or CE. If Christians do give offence by their various approaches then perhaps they ought to start showing some real consideration for others instead of paying lip service to some politically correct language changes.