Why You Should Learn Latin

It goes without saying that you should know at least one modern foreign language.  It adds depth to your soul, increases your travel options, and opens up new universes.  Two modern languages would be better still, if you can manage it.  But in addition to this, I would like to make the argument (or the exhortation) that you should at some point learn a classical language like Latin.  Now, before you roll your eyes and dismiss the suggestion out of hand, consider the following arguments:

Latin Is Western Civilization

Eighty percent of Western civilization, I have read, comes directly from the Latin language.  From roughly 100 B.C. to, say, A.D. 1750, it was the exclusive lingua franca in Europe for literature, science, philosophy, government, politics, and education.  That is a long, long time.  For example, as late as the 1700s, Isaac Newton’s main opus, the “Principia”, was written not in English, but Latin, so that he could reach an international audience.  So, by knowing Latin, you get instant access to the world’s most influential civilization, spanning the entire classical period, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the early modern period.  All of the West’s preeminent works were written during this period.

All of the Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, etc) are in essence corrupted or simplified versions of Latin.  Latin is the key that opens all these doors as well.  Taking this into account, Latin has had far more influence than English in history, over a much wider period of time.

Knowing Latin Opens Up The World Of The Past

It shows you what Western society used to be like in previous eras.  For a modern American, it will be an eye-opening journey, I can promise you.  I have suspected for a long time that the political correctness crowd, and the feminist crowd, do not want you to know what society was like in the past.  They want to eradicate this knowledge, and promote the idea that we are now living in the best period of human history.  This is false, of course.

Knowing Latin will enable you to have the keys to the forbidden kingdom.  Latin, by opening up the world of the West’s past, will fortify you against—and insulate you from—the depredations of feminist claptrap.  You will know that the West was once built on healthy, biologically sound principles of relations between the sexes.  You will begin to see our modern feminized culture as the negative historical aberration that it really is.

As Will Durant once said, one cannot really claim to be a man of letters unless he knows a classical language.  Regardless of what your intellectual goals are, there are strong arguments for working Latin into your educational development.  You will know you are on the right path when people think you’re “impractical” for trying to do it.  Far from being a “dead” language, Latin is all around us.  There are, for example internet radio broadcasts in Finland and Germany where you can hear news roundups in Latin, and there are email listservs where scholars communicate only in Latin.

Learning Latin will add to your “intellectual game” in ways that you could not imagine. For those interested, here are my own practical suggestions about how to go about learning Latin efficiently and enjoyably:

1.  Use Hans Orberg’s “natural languge” method texts, recordings, and workbooks, “Familia Romana” and “Roma Aeterna”.  This is Latin taught the European way.  These materials can be bought from the website for Focus Publishing , the US distributor.  Work your way through these books, together with the supplementary readers.  You will need to make this a daily exercise, for at least 30 minutes per day.  Suck it up.  Any language is a jealous mistress, and will involve a lifelong relationship.

2.  Work your way through John Traupman’s “Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency” with recordings.  Remember Latin is a language like any other, not a museum relic.  Treating it as if it were still a spoken language does wonders for your learning curve.  You can also get on a Latin listserv, where the members write only in Latin.  You really feel like a Renaissance scholar.

3.  Listen weekly to Radio Finland’s Latin language news roundup. It can be found here. Or, if you prefer hearing Latin with a German accent, check out Radio Bremen in Latin.


Read More:  How To Quickly Learn The Basics Of Polish

67 thoughts on “Why You Should Learn Latin”

    1. Often translations leave out important words and meanings that are hard to render in English. Go to the source.

      1. I’m in two minds on the discussion here. I have learnt some Latin (because it was fun to do) but as I could never get to the point where I could read or translate complex classical texts, I prefer to read them in translation by a Latin scholar whose understanding of the nuances of the language far exceeds my own.

  1. When I was a kid (starting at age 8, or so) my mom made me study Latin. I had to study it for an hour a day if I wanted to watch TV that week. Learning Spanish was a breeze for me, since I already knew it’s root language.

  2. I like your article but I have to tell you that I find it amusing that the resources you give are mostly from non-Latin nations.
    Religious preferences aside, let’s mention the Vatican’s use of Latin; arguably, the only State in the world interested in the promotion of it’s use.
    This one is really funny: http://www.euronews.com/2013/02/12/a-lesson-from-the-vatican-learn-latin-beat-the-world/

    1. Thanks, Alan. Yes, the most accomplished Latinists these days seem to be from Poland, Finland, and Eastern Europe. If you get on the Latin listerv, you can see this. Their educational systems seem to be very good. I like Orberg’s method (who was a Dane) and think makes all the other textbooks look second-rate.

  3. Why not complement Latin it with the language of the last man ever to have a shot at vanquishing progressivism/leftism from this Earth, that guy with the funny mustache? Better still, it was the language of the last true Kings of Europe (previously vanquished by progressivism themselves), whose continued rule would have been far more preferable even to Adolf, not to mention the leftists who actually won.
    As a bonus, German is actually used.

    1. Language of barbarians, but I’ll agree that it would be more rewarding than Latin, which is worth the investment of time for most people.

    2. Hitler was a leftist progressive. He wanted to kill off people and ban smoking. He was also a vegetarian and loved animals.

  4. Why not just learn german, spanish, french/ whatever instead? taking the indirect route seems a bit silly to me, when so many languages have crossovers in them already. (See michel thomas method, fluentin3months, ajatt etc )

    1. the only reason for latin to my mind would be if you had a deep interest in early european history and wanted to read direct source material rather than the works of people who’ve spent their lives deciphering and translating these books into english.
      there are essentially only 4 ‘old’ languages worth learning (if you’re obsessed by source material):
      latin, arabic, hebrew, sanskrit. that pretty much covers like 80% of the worlds written history. chinese too if you have a LOT of time on your hands, its much harder to pick up

      1. Latin and Sanskrit are both Indo-European classical languages… learning Latin should help greatly if one wants to study Sanskrit. And note that Hebrew and Arabic are related to each other.

        1. latin and sanskrit are identical in many respects, the similarities were the very reason why the term “Indo-European” (Indo meaning India) was coined in the first place.

    2. I agree. You should know a couple modern languages. But it is nice to pull back the curtain and see the wizard of Oz, too. Latin helps you do this…and it is a vital part of Western civilization in its own right.

    1. That was probably because your teacher was not a good one. Latin is a language, like any other. The quality of Latin instruction in most schools is just awful, which convinces most people that it is a “hard” language to learn.

  5. Google Translate even has Latin support now… the only dead language to have it.
    Latin does certainly help with learning the Romance languages, but it also attunes the brain to making other languages easier to learn, including Greek and the Slavic languages. Russian grammar has a lot in common with Latin. The other major brain-boosting language I’d recommend is German, with Greek third.
    The problem with Latin is that it’s often taught poorly, especially to children. It should be taught in a way that one should be encouraged to speak it in the classroom about everyday topics. The teaching of Irish in Ireland was suffering from a similar problem until recently.

    1. Thanks, Corvinus, for pointing this out. The problem with Latin instruction is that it is taught as a museum piece, instead of the actual language that it is. It was just as lusty, vibrant, obscene, vulgar, and witty as Spanish, Italian, or any language, for that matter. But the terrible quality of instruction has convinced many people that it is boring, irrelevant, or dead. I suspect that my advice is not going to convince most people…only linguomaniacs like myself. But I will keep trying.
      To learn any language you need to be a self-starter. Most people are not willing to put in the decades of work necessary to gain real mastery. It needs to become part of your life.

  6. Latin is a dead language used to unknowingly enslave the ‘dead’ masses through various forms of contracts, such as Unam Sanctam, Papal Bulls, etc. I have heard that Latin excels in concepts of expressing time, compared to the even more limiting slave language of English which similarly has only 4 modes of expression. Language is everything and molds perspective but you cannot return to an age past, as said some great Samurai. Besides, the old world system has recently been foreclosed upon through OPPT. Be a man or be a slave.

    1. Unam Sanctam was not some “dark secret attempt to enslave the masses,” it was a simple reiteration (in strong language) of the papal position vis a vis the Emperor, the occupants of these two offices having had a cordial (and often not so cordial, thanks to the Imperial penchant for invasion and conquest) disagreement for several centuries about their respective roles, and who exactly was subject to whom.

    2. Latin is part of the European heritage to the world whether you like it or not. Most languages in the European Mediterranean are directly descended from Latin. By the Papal Bulls were not contracts…

      1. No, European Union rebuilt on saner bases, less neo-liberal and more moral : that means replacing business English, which is the language of Britain only in Europe, with the common second language Western Europe used to have until the advent of modern nationalism, Latin.

    1. Don’t be so sure. You never know when some morsel of information, or some tidbit of erudition, can help you move the conversation along and untimately close the deal.

  7. I hear you, brah, but man……Latin? I love foreign languages (actually, its more like an addiction), and I have my hands full right now perpetually trying to improve my French, Arabic, Spanish, and recently Turkish. Women from the “semitic” mediterranean (Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Lebanon) are my fetish. I just don’t think I can add another tongue, no matter how enticing you make it sound. The MORE you learn a particular language, the MORE you feel you have a LOT more to learn. The four I have on my plate are frustrating me enough ;o)

    1. I agree. I myself have my hands more than full with Portuguese, Arabic and Latin. But learning one or more helps you to learn others. But even if you do not have antiquarian, historical, or scholarly ambitions, a linguomaniac like you (that is a compliment!) might enjoy it. You never know when you might need another arrow in your quiver. I was in the Leme district in Rio last night and ran into a couple Syrian refugees….no bullshit. If I had not had my Arabic conversation still intact, I would not have been able to make some new friends…

  8. The article makes a very poor case for learning Latin.
    I studied both Latin and Ancient Greek for five years in high school. They actually made us translate stuff from Greek/Latin on the fly and frowned whenever we used a vocabulary (advanced classes, of course.) Can’t say I liked it, but I had to do it so I did it.
    Fast forward 15 years later. I speak several languages, and knowledge of Latin and/or Greek helped me…let’s see… almost never. Including in life.
    It only helped me when I had to deal with medical terms and to occasionally suss out the etymology of words without using a vocabulary. That’s it.
    That said, let’s examine some points.
    “All of the Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, etc) are in essence corrupted or simplified versions of Latin.”
    Nope. Languages are not “corrupted”. They undergo a process of evolution and adaptation not unlike ideas or organisms. Saying that, say, Italian is a corrupted and simplified version of Latin is like saying that a bird is a corrupted and simplified version of a pterodactyl.
    (Speaking of which, yes, I can work out the etymology of ptero (=wing) and dactyl (=digit). Saved me 10 seconds of looking it up on Wikipedia. Yay!)
    Also, Latin languages descend from Latin, but _they’re not Latin_. The grammar has absolutely nothing to do with it — it is, in fact, closer to German, what with declensions and all that.
    Knowledge of Latin helps, but if that’s the reason you want to learn it, there’s a better alternative. See below.
    “Far from being a “dead” language, Latin is all around us. There are, for example internet radio broadcasts in Finland and Germany where you can hear news roundups in Latin, and there are email listservs where
    scholars communicate only in Latin.”
    Not a good argument, as the same thing could be said of many conlangs, like Klingon, or even the recently reconstructed Indo-European.
    If you want to read the classics, most of them –probably all– have already been translated. The quality of the translation is something only an academic or a very serious enthusiast might care about, not the average reader. And of course Will Durant said what he said, he was a damn scholar.
    If you want a “springboard” to learn Latin languages, then just learn Esperanto. It’s WAY easier, most of the vocabulary is from Latin languages anyway, there’s plenty of speakers to practice, and so on.

    1. Thanks for you comment, Markus. It may not be so certain that your study of the classics never helped you. Sometimes we are unable to perceive fully what has helped us in our educational development. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Who can say? Perhaps your present high level of educational and professional achievement was due, in some part, to your exposure to the classics.
      In the end, everyone should make his own choice.

    2. The difference between a Language and a dialect/patois/creole is that a “Language” has an army, navy, special forces, nuclear missiles and weapons. Once a “dialect” attains all of these, guess what, it too becomes Language. Its about power.

      1. I’m not sure I 100% agree with that definition. But the problem here is semantics.
        For example, Latin, Ancient Greek, Esperanto, even conlangs like Klingon, Toki-Pona and Esperanto are most certainly languages. People speak them and write them. They have conferences and groups and all that. There’s literature, original and translated. But they have neither an army nor a navy, and all of them have been influenced by other languages.
        And what about English and its extremely liberal borrowing from Latin-descended languages like French (‘beautiful’, ‘contain’, ‘influence’, ‘civil’, ‘virility’…)?
        According to this:
        Latin accounts for 28.24% of English vocabulary, and French/Old Norman for 28.3%.
        So is English just a creole/pidgin?
        The only “pure”, non-creole, non-pidgin-y language I can think of is Icelandic.

  9. I wholeheartedly agree. I studied Latin for three years in college, and have attempted to keep up my proficiency since then. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to pick up Caesar or St. Augustine and read them, without having to resort to the clunky presentation of one man’s interpretation which a translation constitutes. Most people hate Latin because it was taught to them using ghastly “on the fly translation” methods developed in the 1800s, where Latin is treated as a written code needing to be deciphered, instead of a natural, spoken language. Couple that with a Renaissance snobbery which insists on studying a few selected classical texts whose complexity really does make them almost a code for the learner, while completely ignoring the great mass of Medieval and later Latin, which is much more accessible and shares more similarities with modern languages in terms of sentence structure, and you have a situation where Latin is universally despised by those who have had the misfortune to study it. This is a pity, because it cuts the great majority of educated men off from the roots of their civilization.
    Game is about becoming a better man, which is a surefire way to increase one’s value and more easily attract higher-quality women. Part of self-improvement as a man includes education, and Latin is a key part of this, because it allows one to study the masters themselves, as it were, instead of getting one or two feminist professors’ opinions as gospel. It also teaches one a great deal about the meanings of words and the English (or other European) language, which allows for a much more precise understanding of that language, because words grow more distinct and take on shades of meaning that are only hinted at when it was simply a string of random sounds.

    1. Thanks, Ovid, for your thoughts.
      The joy of scholarship is that it gives us solace in our turbulent times. Latin instantly plugs you into best of Western civilization. You will understand the full panoply of classical mythology, Western philosophy, religion, and much else. And being able to have access to these original works enables us to see just how refined and advanced previous societies were. Your imagination and spirit will soar. As a culture, the West is paying a high price for the removal of Latin from the standard educational curriculum. And what did they replace it with? Class on “internet use” and similar namby-pamby nonsense.
      Unfortunately, the quality of language instruction is Latin is atrocious, for the most part. Instead of being taught as a liturgical language or dead language, it should be taught as a living language. This is the theory behind the Hans Orberg series, and the other resources I recommended in the article. To learn Latin, or any other language for that matter, you have to do it yourself. Period. Success comes when you realize that no one is going to help you.
      During the Renaissance, Latin was taught as if it were still a spoken language. The result was that people learned it faster and more completely than they do today. I firmly believe that many people psych themselves out of language learning because they have bad teachers.

      1. You know, perhaps that why I’m a bit soured on Latin. It’s been taught to me as a dead-ish language. My professors didn’t really speak it. They made us recite declensions, word lists and all that. “What’s the genitive of this?”, et cetera. It felt very dry. Not even one of my classmates enjoyed it.
        I’m curious about this Hand Orberg thing. I’ll have a look.

        1. That really is the crux of the problem: for far too long, Latin is treated as a kind of parlor-game cryptogram, instead of a real, living, breathing language. Which is what is is (or was). Just because Latin is no longer anyone’s native language does not mean that it should not be taught as a living language. People don’t learn languages by memorizing declentions. They learn by associating in context. Please check out the Lingua Latina series, Markus. I think you will be very impressed. No English at all is used in the books. Everything is taught organically…the books are constructed with real genius, and have to be seen to be believed.

        2. I agree: that’s how I learned languages other than Latin/Greek: immersion and context. No grammar unless absolutely necessary.
          I just got a copy of “Lingua Latina per Se Illustrata”. Seems interesting, very similar to Assimil courses: light, small, progressively more complex dialogues.

        3. Leafing through Roma Aeterna right now… I agree, a little jewel indeed. Maps, illustrations, explanations. As I said, it’s pretty much like Assimil, but you can tell it’s been done with a certain passion for the subject, and not just to produce a language course. It’s almost a crime we didn’t have this kind of textbook 15 years ago. Dang.

        4. Markus, I’m so happy that you gave the Orberg textbooks a look. I think you will find them to be ingeniously constructed. You are only presented with what you need to know, and no more; and it’s done in a way such that you retain it. Since you already pretty much know Latin, it will be an awesome refresher course for you. My advice to anyone starting with the Lingua Latina series is to do the following:
          1. Start with volume one, “Familia Romana”. Install the recordings on your computer. You need to hear a language in order to learn it properly. Work your way through each chapter carefully. Listen to the recordings. BE SURE to re-read each chapter at least twice in order to firmly cement the linguistic structures in your brain. DO NOT become overly focused on grammar and inflectional endings. After each chapter, read the explanation in the the accompanying supplement “Lingua Latina: A College Companion”. Also work through the supplement called “Colloquia Personarum”. You can also do the exercise workbooks, but I never did. I found that rereading the chapters multiple times was better. Write down all vocabulary words you don’t know and review them daily. You need to work on your languages daily. Not three times per week. Every bloody day. Even on vacation. The important thing is not to over-analyze the language and its inflectional system. Just absorb it.
          2. Work through the supplementary reader “Fabulae Syrae” by Luigi Miraglia. This is a fantastic reader of all the essential mythology stories found in Ovid.
          3. Plough through “Roma Aeterna”. This is not easy. But you are getting exposure to original texts by Livy, Sallust, Eutropius, and Cicero. Remember to re-read each chapter several times
          4. Finish up with the readers on Caesar’s “De Bello Gallico”, “Sermones Romani”, and Cicero’s “In Catilinam” orations.
          But remember your relationship with the language never ends…this should be the beginning of a lifetime committment. But you will be a changed man.

        5. This is excellent advice, it’s exactly what I’ve done when I started studying Russian with my Assimil course, which is structured the same way. Read, re-read, absorb and don’t over-analyze. Just let the language sink in.
          Only I also used an SRS software (Supermemo) to keep my memory fresh, and I would recommend it to anyone. (If Supermemo is too costly and/or complex, an alternative is Anki or Mnemosyne.)

  10. A french tutor who ran a weekend language bootcamp told me learning and continually improving a foreign language is the equivalent of TAKING YOUR BRAIN TO THE GYM. So the tougher the language, the heavier the weight your brain is bench pressing. Even if you SUCK at the language your learning, the mere effort you are making to push your mind to learn it (hey, don’t slack off, btw! diligently do the exercises) is having a powerful impact on your brain and intelligence. Its never for naught. Hell, it prevents alzheimer’s.

    1. Yeah after just 30 minutes of Polish/Russian my brain needs a break. The other day I did 90 minutes of French, no problem.

        1. When you’ve learnt Polish, Russian is easy. It’s a corrupted form of Polish. (Tongue in cheek dig. I don’t mean it!)

        2. Going the other way, without some grounding in German a Romance language speaker will always fuck things up. The top 100 words in English are virtually all German, but the next thousand are mostly French and the next 10,000 mostly have Greek or Latin roots. The most complicated words in English tend to be the smallest ones: a, the, at, in, of, and such. Articles and prepositions are murder.

  11. Sanskrit is more relevant to us today and will open up a vast and profoundly deep philosophical world for the learner and as its the basis of Pali also, Buddhist texts, (along with of course Hindu texts like Vedanta, and Jain texts) will be rendered easier which is important as the Western world increasingly rejects Christianity for EWT, Eastern Wisdom Traditions.

  12. The Orberg book is great – his sense of humor totally kicks ass. One of the brothers punches the sister, wakes up the dad, who thrashes him. There are cracks about the nutty beliefs of Christians back in the day. Jokes about ugly broads. Totally non-PC, and an excellent way to learn the language. A psychologist friend involved with IQ testing told me Latin and German are most often the language of choice for high-IQ kids.

    1. I wanted to take German, but my parents wouldnt let me and I wasnt developed enough to do what I wanted anyway.

  13. I happen to know Latin at a very high level, having studied it for seven years straight. Here’s my advice about the language: don’t learn it. The only uses I have found for it so far are to easily understand and use pretentious words like simulacrum and correct people for mispronouncing Latin phrases like et cetera or sine die.
    Now another Latinist may argue that it’s an excellent exercise for your brain and is an interesting hobby that opens up the ancient world to your eyes (as this post’s author does). Now, it certainly is, but the same can be said for language such as Russian and French which, in addition to be being fascinating to learn, will also allow you to communicate with millions of new people and read documents and books that aren’t available in English. That brings me to my next point: every single Latin text I have ever read or heard about has been translated into (at least) English. Therefore, you can read all those ancient stories, myths, histories, etc. without so much as cracking open a Latin grammar book.
    I personally learned it because I thought it sounded cool, and by the time I realized I should’ve picked something else I had already picked up too much momentum and had to finish the higher levels in school to get my foreign language credit (plus the easy A’s since I’ve become better at it).
    Conclusion: There’s no practical reason to do this and if you’re considering learning Latin as a hobby I’d suggest other languages (that can also be complex if you want, like Russian) that people actually speak these days.
    I’ll conclude by writing out a paragraph of good Latin (I still remember most of what I’ve learnt in university) and seeing if anyone here understands.
    Ave lector qui invenisti hanc partem intersphaerae masculinae ut ipse feci. Me attonuisti(s) nam nesciebam alios latinistas haec regiones interretiales frequentare. Putabam me solum esse! Tamen lugeo, nam melius esset me linguam russicam, exempli gratia, didicisse, non Latinam. Nam perpaucissimu sunt qui ha lingua uti possimus. Bene vale, et fortuna contingent tibi!

    1. I find your comments humorous. As a lawyer I was exposed to many Latin phrases and only one of my Profs took the time to tell us how badly we were mangling the language: his main example was “prima facie”.

  14. The author makes his pitch very eloquently (Latin-rooted word). This skeptic comes down on the side that he is right and that studying Latin is indeed meritorious. Latin does not have an immediate ROI that lets you make a dollar right now, like one Cisco certificate or other. Latin has a delayed-blast ROI that helps you make a million dollars later on the merit of being the sharper, more knowledgeable, insightful and analytical person that studying Latin, in turn, helps you become.
    (If you need to have money as part of your argumentation.)

  15. I was a Latin major in college. Our professor drilled into us that modern man was stupid and ancient man was better at everything.

  16. Latin itself is a dead language as no one knows how to speak it properly; it is a lost art. This is weird because even as late as the 15th or 16th century academic text books were written in Latin so all other academics in Christendom could read them. High Medieval universities conducted most lessons in Latin but the pronunciation became a problem, sort of like a Newfie, a Jamaican and some punter from Leeds trying to have a high level conversation.
    For the English speakers here, French is the obvious gateway language given what went down in 1066. Once you are fluent in French you can sort of “fake it” in Spanish or Italian until you get a bit more training. The other route for English speakers is to learn German, which gets back to our roots and opens up Dutch, Danish, and even Swedish.
    As a Canadian I was forced to study French throughout grade school (8 fucking years) but I can’t speak the language because nobody in Toronto (outside of the civil service) actually speaks French. I can pick up a few words and perhaps the gist of a what someone is saying, but I can’t carry a conversation.
    I was actually so pissed off with French that when I was forced to take a language course in grade 10 I chose German. To this day, after one semester of German compared to 8 years of French, I can scrape together more useful words to stumble through an encounter.
    But stupid me decides to go off to fucking China and try to learn a language that isn’t even part of the Indo-European set. The grammar is much simpler (they have only one verb tense rather than 12 like in English) although I have problems with particles and prepositions. The biggest deal is the tones because there are 5 ways to say any given word and in English we use this trick in a completely different manner, to change the meaning of the whole sentence in terms of purpose or emotion. Raising or dropping your intonation in English can indicate a question, a statement or else a range of emotional states. Changing your tone in Chinese for “ma” changes the word from mother to hemp to horse; “yan” can mean smoke or eye or swallow (the bird) and “bi” can mean nose or cunt, so you really have to get it right.
    Funny thing is that one of my Chinese colleagues, who has decent English, studied in Germany for a year. Sometimes when we are at a loss and he doesn’t know the English word and I don’t know the Chinese word, we will switch to German for a phrase here or there to fill in the blanks.
    With this all being said, a knowledge of Latin and/or Greek certainly helps with your English skills at the most advanced levels. If you can break down a word into prefix, root and suffix and understand their meaning, then all of a sudden your effective vocabulary goes into six figures. You won’t understand the various terms of art but if you can pull this off- and I have done it a few times – you can chit chat with neurobiologists or philosophers and keep up with them.

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