[Editor’s note: Rutgers’ Department of Classics holds an annual competition for its undergraduate and graduate students to receive one of several Ethyl S. Cook Scholarships, which support travel abroad for programs that specialize in fields relevant to classical studies. Here is the very welcome report of a recent recipient, Max DuBoff ’19, a member of the inaugural class of the Rutgers Honors College and a 2017/8 Lloyd C. Gardner Fellow who will graduate with a double major in Classics (Greek & Latin option) and Philosophy.]
“When I began to learn Latin, I felt like the language I had spoken my whole life suddenly made a whole lot more sense. I discovered roots behind common and uncommon words—I’ll never forget my first cognate, equus—and gained insight on the grammatical and linguistical development that helped shape English into the glorious hodgepodge it is.
Although I advanced greatly in my language learning in the interim, I experienced no similar wonderment for over half a decade, until this summer in Berlin, when I began to learn German at the Goethe-Institut with generous funding from the Ethel S. Cook Travel Scholarship program. I continually delighted in finding out which common English words derive from German; even though I knew abstractly that English is a Germanic language and that many of its grammatically integral words are from German, I simply did not understand German’s concrete influence on English. My new knowledge of German provided further color to my understanding of my native tongue as well as my other previous language learning.