It’s All Latin to Facebook

Who says Latin is a dead language? Certainly not Facebook: The social-networking service added Latin to its list of more than 70 languages, along with Azeri, Faroese, Georgian and Nepali, CNET reported.

The addition of the five new tongues comes on the heels of Facebook’s announcement earlier this week that it would make its translation tools available for users of Facebook Connect.

Facebook communications-team associate Elizabeth Linder wrote on the Facebook blog:

Most of the time when we stumble upon a Latin phrase, it’s etched in stone: carved in the hallways of universities, chiseled on facades of government buildings or carefully imprinted in cathedral foyers and churchyards. The language seems almost immovable. Yet beginning today, Latin—the staid and reliable language—springs to life on Facebook.

Latin has joined the more than 70 languages we’ve made available on the site in the past two years, including some which have launched just today—Azeri, Faroese, Georgian and Nepali. Some of these are languages that millions of people speak across the globe. Others are dialects that specific communities use in select geographic areas. Still others are just for fun: “Pirate” may not appeal to everyone, but for those nostalgic for the days of Blackbeard and Captain Hook, it’s there for you in Facebook’s language drop-down menu.

Though Latin has been long out of use, for some of us, it never loses its intrigue. As a native English speaker, I enrolled in Latin to supplement my study of Romance languages. I still remember reading a translated copy of Winnie the Pooh in Latin, and gradually working my way through state speeches and philosophic commentary dating from the Roman Empire. When I joined Facebook a year ago, I chose a Latin phrase, “dictum meum pactum” (“my word is my bond”), as the phrase that currently appears on my Facebook business card. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.