Yes, the Boy Wizard apparently strikes again. His latest spell: enchanting young people (at least here in New York) with his Latin-ish spells to take up the “dead” language. “Dead” being a relative term (pardon the pun), as Pope Benedict XVI et al are busy doing all they can to resuscitate the Vulgar Tongue.
Check out this story from the NYTimes the other day:
The resurgence of a language once rejected as outdated and irrelevant is reflected across the country as Latin is embraced by a new generation of students like Xavier who seek to increase SAT scores or stand out from their friends, or simply harbor a fascination for the ancient language after reading Harry Potter’s Latin-based chanting spells.
The number of students in the United States taking the National Latin Exam has risen steadily to more than 134,000 students in each of the past two years, from 124,000 in 2003 and 101,000 in 1998, with large increases in remote parts of the country like New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont. The number of students taking the Advanced Placement test in Latin, meanwhile, has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, to 8,654 in 2007. While Spanish and French still dominate student schedules — and Chinese and Arabic are trendier choices — Latin has quietly flourished in many high-performing suburbs, like New Rochelle, where Latin’s virtues are sung by superintendents and principals who took it in their day. In neighboring Pelham, the 2,750-student district just hired a second full-time Latin teacher after a four-year search, learning that scarce Latin teachers have become more sought-after than ever.
The irony, of course, is that Pope Benedict is no fan of Harry’s, as a 2003 exchange of letters with an anti-Potter author makes clear. “It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly,” wrote then-Cardinal Ratzinger.
Hey, maybe he’ll take a second look. You know, popes CAN change…