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Nuntii Latini – News in Latin One Last Time

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Nuntii Latini

When I start­ed teach­ing Latin using a spo­ken com­po­nent some sev­en years ago, hear­ing Latin was a rare thing, at least in my world. But for the last cou­ple of years at inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ences where I’ve giv­en talks and sum­mer cours­es I’ve taught at, I’ve seen the idea of using Latin active­ly blos­som and flourish.

From the wealth of spo­ken Latin cours­es to the increased out­put of Latin online, hear­ing Latin is no longer such a fringe phenomenon.

But before most oth­er things in the age­less realm of Latin, there was the Nun­tii Lati­ni – a news broad­cast all in Latin, pro­duced by the Finnish radio sta­tion YLE Radio 1.


Ten years ago I was tak­ing a course in post-clas­si­cal Latin; it was a good and demand­ing course, but I was the only student.

I was at the top of my class.

We had just been dis­cussing the Latin of Carl von Lin­né – more pre­cise­ly his use of indi­rect speech – when it was time for a short break; dur­ing which the teacher asked me if I’d heard of some­thing called Nun­tii Lati­ni

I had not.

He went on to tell me that it was a Finnish news broad­cast in Latin. I was intrigued.

A minute lat­er, the speak­ers of a tired old lap­top played the first minute of an episode. As I heard the Latin, I remem­ber being fas­ci­nat­ed by hear­ing this lan­guage that I had thus far only stud­ied ana­lyt­i­cal­ly with focus on gram­mar and translation.

This was my first step into using Latin active­ly to learn to read bet­ter. Since then lis­ten­ing to Latin lit­er­a­ture, speak­ing and writ­ing Latin have all helped me to read bet­ter and I always urge my stu­dents to do the same. 

Thirty years of Latin

The Nun­tii Lati­ni broad­cast has been sum­ma­riz­ing world news in Latin for close to thir­ty years. The pas­sion­ate souls that have kept Nun­tii Lati­ni going are Tuo­mo Pekka­nen, Vir­pi Sep­pälä-Pekka­nen and Rei­jo Pitkäranta.

THE CREATORS OF YLE’S NUNTII LATINI: TUOMO PEKKANEN, VIRPI SEPPÄLÄ-PEKKANEN AND REIJO PITKÄRANTA. PHOTO BY: LAURA MAINIEMI

Nun­tii Lati­ni has attract­ed many stu­dents to Latin, show­ing that it is pos­si­ble to get a firm com­mand of the lan­guage so that you can under­stand it in real-time as it is spo­ken.

Some peo­ple may say a news­cast in Latin has noth­ing to do with Latin literature.

This is true.

But since it has helped bring atten­tion to Latin and inspire stu­dents and teach­ers alike to incor­po­rate lis­ten­ing com­pre­hen­sion into their study, then it has helped cre­ate more and bet­ter read­ers of Latin literature. 

Count­less teach­ers have used the Nun­tii either to illus­trate aspects of the lan­guage or to pro­vide a change from the reg­u­lar coursework.

Nowa­days when peo­ple learn that I teach Latin, they often ask “Have you heard the Finnish news pro­gram in Latin?”.

I now have.

Its exis­tence has become quite well known, even out­side the lands of Latin.

The twilight of Nuntii Latini

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, YLE, the radio sta­tion host­ing Nun­tii Lati­ni, has announced that on Decem­ber 21 they will be air­ing the last episode. The rea­son­ing seems to be that the audi­ence inter­est­ed in Latin is rel­a­tive­ly small, and that there today is more Latin audio avail­able online. (Read YLE’s state­ment here.)

If you want to show your sup­port for Nun­tii Lati­ni, there is an online peti­tion here:

Peti­tion for Nun­tii Latini

You can still lis­ten to old episodes dat­ing back to 2011 here.

What­ev­er the fate of the broad­cast will be, it has been instru­men­tal in giv­ing Latin more atten­tion and remind­ing us that Latin is a lan­guage, that you can learn to use active­ly and under­stand it when spoken.

Though the cur­tain falls on Nun­tii Lati­ni, it start­ed the era of Latin audio online that flour­ish­es today and helps stu­dents devel­op their abil­i­ty to read Latin literature.

Gra­tias ago max­i­mas vobis qui nun­tios Lati­nos tot annos tan­ta seduli­tate edi­tis. Non est dubi­um, ita me di ament, quin pluri­mi mag­istri et dis­cip­uli totius orbis ter­rarum opera ves­tra in lin­guae Lati­nae studi­is opin­ione alacrius pro­gres­sus fecerint. Pluri­mi ves­tigi­is vestris insis­tant! Bene valete.

Daniel Pettersson

Daniel Pettersson

Teacher and author Daniel Pettersson, M.A., is co-founder of Latinitium and is currently teaching Latin at Stockholm University, where he is also working on his Ph.D. dissertation on Humanist Colloquia. Daniel believes in the importance of Latin literature in the modern world and that you can teach yourself Latin with the right motivation, method, and material.
Written by Daniel Pettersson

Written by Daniel Pettersson

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