Thursday, April 19, 2007

Really Learning Latin: Vocabulary, Grammar, Translation, and Wheelocks

When we first started learning Latin, we were delighted learn some ancient Roman or Biblical sayings, and delighted to see how quickly we could be up-and-running. But we hit the wall, and soon found what people meant when the said, "You can't REALLY learn Latin without learning the grammar."

For young children, "soft" Latin programs like Minimus, Latina Christiana, or Prima Latina are probably best, but if you think your student would like to some day continue on in Latin at college, then Latin grammar should be tackled as soon as it is developmentally possible.

An example: if a student has only learned vocabulary or famous phrases, she may be perplexed about how to translate a sentence like: Nauta magnam poêtae fâmam nôn laudat. Who's the subject and how do you figure out which noun is which?

Step 1: It's handy to know the most common word order for Latin Sentences:
Subject - subject's modifiers - Indirect Object - Direct Object - Adverbial Words or Phrases - and Verb.

Step 2: Look for the subject and the noun:
Nauta magnam poêtae fâmam nôn laudat.

Step 3: Look at the word endings - and figure out what function the different nouns are serving in the sentence.
Nauta magnAM poêtAE fâmAM nôn laudat.

The AM will tell me that it's fame that's the direct object (The sailor doesn't praise the reputation, not The sailor doesn't praise the poet), or accusative case. The same ending of magnam means it's paired with fâmam (so great reputation, not great poet), and the AE identifies poêtae as genitive (possessive) so it could be translated as "of the poet".

Final translation: The sailor does not praise the great reputation of the poet.

Now, I confess my son and I still run through the chant "a, ae, ae, am, a; ae arum, is, as, is) to jog our memories for the noun endings, but with more practice we wnat to be able see a word ending and know exactly what function (or possibility of functions) that word has in the sentence. Exact grammar terms have to be learned because it allows communicate precisely about word functions to others when questions arise.

There are many resources for Wheelock's Latin on the web. Before we advance to the next chapter, we first do the self check with drills at University of Houston Latin (Scroll down to the Course 1301 drills). Afterwards we can follow up with Dr J's Latin Grammar Explanations or check out Dale Grote's Latin Study Guide if we have any questions.

Additionl Resources for Latin Online Practice that you may find helpful:
University of Victoria Latin Exercises
Latin Wheelock Practice at Quia.com
Wheelocks Audio
Real Latin Inscriptions

1 comment:

M. said...

Your users might find the LATINUM podcast, with its downloadable lessons, to be very useful.

http://latinum.mypodcast.com

The site, which started in May 2007 has a wide range of resources,aimed at students of all ability ranges.
June, the second full month of the site's existence, already saw over 25 000 files downloaded, and the feedback from users of the site is very positive.

Previous Latin Sayings of the Week

"Soli deo gloria." - For the glory of God alone.


Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit! - Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed!



"Lex malla, lex nulla." - St. Thomas Aquinas
(A bad law is no law.)


"Cantantes licet usque (minus via laedit) eamus. " - Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.


"Caelitus mihi vires." - My strength is from heaven.

"Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo Salvatore meo" - My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior (Luke 1:45)

In Omnibus Ipse Primatum Tenens “That in all things He (Christ) might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:16-18)


"Qui bene cantat bis orat." - He who sings well, prays twice - (St Augustine)

"Nos fecisti ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te." -
Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. (St Augustine)

"Caelitus mihi vires
." - My strength is from heaven.

"Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est." - Where there is charity and love, God is there.

"Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis ."

Unless you will have believed, you will not understand. - St Augustine

"Deo vindice" - With God as Protector


"Credite amori vera dicenti." - Believe love speaking the truth. (St. Jerome)


De vitiis nostris scalam nobis facimus, si vitia ipsa calcamus." - If we tread our vices under feet, we make them a ladder to rise to higher things. (St. Augustine)

Dei gratia - By the grace of God

Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum. - The Word of the Lord Endures Forever.

"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis." - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

"Deo iuvante" - with God's help

"Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus." - That God may be glorified in all things

"Pax vobiscum." Peace be with you.

"Jubilate Deo." Be joyful in the Lord.

"Ille vir, haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei." He is a man, not of ample means, but full of good faith.

"Facit enim mihi magna qui potens est." - For He that is mighty does to me great things.

"Oremus semper pro invicem." - Let us ever pray for each other.

"Distrahit animum librorum multitudo." - Seneca
A multitude of books distracts the mind.

"Nullam est nunc dictum, quod sit non dictum prius." - Terence
There is nothing said now, that has not been said before.

"Nosce te ipsum." - Plato
Know thyself.

"Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis" - Not for you, not for me, but for us.

"Primum non nocere." - First, do no harm (Hippocrates)

"Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis." - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

"Deo iuvante" - with God's help

"Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus." - That God may be glorified in all things

"Pax vobiscum." Peace be with you.

"Jubilate Deo." Be joyful in the Lord.

"Ille vir, haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei." He is a man, not of ample means, but full of good faith.

"Facit enim mihi magna qui potens est." - For He that is mighty does to me great things.

"Oremus semper pro invicem." - Let us ever pray for each other.

"Distrahit animum librorum multitudo." - Seneca
A multitude of books distracts the mind.

"Nullam est nunc dictum, quod sit non dictum prius." - Terence
There is nothing said now, that has not been said before.

"Nosce te ipsum." - Plato
Know thyself.

"Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis" - Not for you, not for me, but for us.

"Primum non nocere." - First, do no harm (Hippocrates)

"Dei plena sunt omnia." - Cicero (All things are full of God.)