Thursday, July 10, 2008

Languages: Classical and American

San Elijo College is a classical liberal arts college in the great books tradition. As such we study the ideas that come to us from the past which make our own free American constitutional republic possible.

These ideas are transmitted to us through language.

Because we believe in the objectivity of knowledge, (i.e. that we can know what is good, true and beautiful), we believe that language does not stand as a blur between us and the ideas that we come to know through reading great works of literature, listening to music or seeing great works of art.

San Elijo College will emphasize three languages.

First and foremost all students will master the English language. English is the language of the United States of America. It is the "mother tongue." It gave birth to the ideas in the English political tradition which in turn nurtured the concepts of the founding documents of our American national experience, without which San Elijo College would not be possible. This is especially so for the primary document of our nation's founding: the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration we have a language (English) and ideas, especially the ideas of self evident truths (part of the objectivity of knowledge). The ideas and the language go together. Our students master both.

In addition, we will focus on the classical language of Latin.

We will focus on Latin for two reasons: 1) many of the ideas of antiquity come to us through the Latin language, both ideas transmitted through ancient Rome and through the Medieval Church, 2) Latin has influenced the English and Spanish languages in many ways. Latin will be the classical language of the college.

We will also focus on the modern language of Spanish.

We will focus on Spanish for three reasons. First, Spanish was the first European language of San Diego. Spanish links our college to its European Spanish roots. Thus, it deserves special place in our curriculum as contributing to the European cultural and intellectual traditions developed in this corner of the United States. Second, Spanish is the main second language of California, a major international language spoken on three continents, and our students will benefit in practical ways from knowing it.

Language and ideas go together in important way. At San Elijo College, we will master the good, true and beautiful in each.

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