Five of the ten most widely spoken languages of the world originate in Europe. Today English, the language with the highest number of speakers (native and non-native combined) around the globe, together with French, Spanish and Portuguese, is a language whose speech communities span across continents and represent dozens of distinct cultures.
For centuries, Latin and Ancient Greek have been media of transmitting knowledge and high culture across Europe and beyond and have left an extremely abundant literary legacy. They provide access to epigraphic and textual sources of ancient and mediaeval culture. In addition, Latin enables us to read the publications and artifacts from the Middle Ages into the 19th century, since it was for a long time the international language of Western scholarship.
Dozens of languages are currently spoken in Europe, belonging mostly to the Indo-European and to a lesser extent Uralic, Turkic and Afro-Asiatic languages families. Of special importance is Basque, a language isolate and the descendant of Europe’s oldest indigenous non-Indo-European languages.
Close political and cultural ties, as well as a long and rich history of immigration, have made bilingualism and multilingualism in Europe a regular occurrence.
Despite effective measures taken in the past half-a-century to preserve the linguistic richness of the continent, some languages of Europe are presently endangered.
ILARA offers courses in Ancient Greek and Latin grouped into three levels over two semesters. Though nowadays these languages are less and less commonly taught in secondary schools, they remain necessary for all studies focused on Europe, the Mediterranean and the surrounding regions. Intensive sessions, twice a year, allow an accelerated introduction or further training in these languages in addition to or instead of the semester courses.
Two more extinct languages are taught at ILARA this year: Mycenaean Greek, the oldest written Greek variety, and Old Norse, language of the authors of sagas and eddic myths.