Academic Excellence

Learning a Dead Language

by Brandy Quach (Class of 2018)

Carlos Ruiz Zafon once said, “There’s no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds.”

Language all across the world has the power to connect people and touch someone’s heart. However, some languages are considered “dead”, or a language no longer used in everyday life. Here at Developing Virtue Girls School, the junior and senior classes are offered a chance to revitalize the dead language of Sanskrit as part of the Buddhism course.

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Every Monday, the twenty-four of us meet in the library and begin our journey back to the past. A sacred language used for religious purposes, Sanskrit provides the students an opportunity to approach Buddhism through a more hands on approach. The language of the gods, as it is termed, is written in beautiful lines and swirls. As a class we have learned the alphabets and words in Devanagari script and romanization, as well as did projects on the language. We practice reading Buddhist texts, such as the Heart Sutra and verses from Universal Door Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, and practice pronouncing these Sanskrit texts in romanization. Sanskrit is by no means easy with its foreign symbols and sounds, but many students at DVGS enjoy learning about the ancient language.

Christina Park, an eleventh grader, says, “While Sanskrit is very challenging, it is hard since we have so little class time. If we had more class time, we would be able to more successfully learn the language. Denise Cao, also an eleventh grader, exclaims, “Sanskrit is really cool. I love the fact that we have a chance to learn it because my connection to Buddhism is strengthened.”

Vanessa Sun, a twelfth grader, proclaims, “Sanskrit is a beautiful language that I have enjoyed learning.” Another senior Suzanne Zhang gushes, “This is such a fortunate opportunity for me to learn since many universities don’t offer this language. I am also very blessed to learn this sacred language of Buddhism.”

While some wonder about the importance of learning a dead language, here at DVGS, the students understand the necessity of opening one’s mind and learning about the beautiful language of Sanskrit.

Categories: Academic Excellence