Language is the means by which we clarify, analyze, and express our thoughts; the more adept we are with language, the more easily we can work with ideas. Therefore, sensitivity to language and an understanding of how it works is central to Gutenberg’s curriculum.
The many languages in the world are essentially the same phenomenon: they all use morphology (the assignment of meaning or ideas to sounds) and syntax (the relationship between those ideas) to express thoughts. Different languages use a wide variety of lexical and syntactical devices. Learning foreign languages increases one’s understanding of the richness and complexity of human language in general; aspects of language hidden from us in our native tongue become very apparent in another language.
The Gutenberg curriculum includes one “dead” (no longer spoken) language and one “living” (currently spoken) language, because each makes a unique contribution. The study of dead languages tends to draw one’s attention to the rule-based regularity of language; we make sense of dead languages by recovering that regularity. The study of modern languages underscores the flexibility of language; much about language is idiomatic and not easily reduced to rules, and furthermore, native speakers frequently break the rules of language for studied effect. Only by understanding the interplay of regularity and flexibility in language can one appreciate how one can employ a finite number of tools (lexical and syntactical) to express an infinite number of ideas. Therefore, the Gutenberg curriculum includes study of classical Greek and modern German. Both languages are inflected (that is, change in word form indicates grammatical function), and both are useful.
Classical Greek (GRK 101-203)
Students are required to take two years of classical Greek, in their first and second years. Classical Greek is designed to equip students to read Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Thucydides, and the New Testament.
German (GER 301-403)
Students are required to take two years of German, in their third and fourth years. German is the most important language of research in most academic disciplines, as well as the up-and-coming language of Europe; many of the great philosophers, theologians, scientists, researchers, archaeologists, and sociologists wrote in German. This course teaches students to read German, and it places some emphasis on the acquisition of idiomatic speaking skills.