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Archive for the ‘LT: Lift off in Latin’ Category

Total hours of study so far: 6 (Familia Romana, ch. 12/35; Winnie Ille Pu, p. 1/120)

To make sure I always have something to read when I’m away from my computer, I’ve bought “Winne Ille Pu” (Winne the Pooh) along with a new pocket Latin dictionary. I also have it in mind to order “Regulus” (The Little Prince) and some of the Asterix series in Latin later on, once I reach the States and find a new flat.

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Total hours of study so far: 5 (Familia Romana, chapter 11/35)

Whenever I come across new words in Latin, like the words “caput” (head) and “capillus” (hair) that I learnt today, and then relate them back to English words (e.g. decapitate, capillaries), I never fail to feel a wave of excitement over the discovery. I guess not everyone is into etymology but I find it absolutely fascinating!

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Total hours of study so far: 4 (Familia Romana, chapter 10/35)

I’ve noticed a lot of improvement over the last 4 weeks in my reading skills, despite the grammar rising a few notches in complexity. I’ve gone from slow deliberate reading with the aid of a dictionary, pausing the audio to try and piece together the grammar; to faster comprehension of whole sentences at a glance, fewer pauses overall, and rarely touching my pocket dictionary. This is encouraging.

One word of warning for beginners of Latin though: beware false friends! No, I don’t mean Brutus here, I’m talking about words that you think you know the meaning of, simply because they look very similar to a word in English, but could very well be misled. I’ve fallen for this pitfall a few times already with words like “aliī” (some) and “prope” (near), so I’m a little more wary of any initial overconfidence now. 😉

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Total hours of study so far: 3 (Familia Romana, chapter 8/35)

I’m making a concerted effort to resist the temptation of looking up the odd word or two in my little Latin dictionary, and instead rely mainly on the context from now on. This is proving to be a much more effective and interesting strategy, and I’m covering twice as much text as in previous sessions last week.

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Total hours of study so far: 2 (Familia Romana, chapter 7/35)

Latin has helped me get my head around some problematic Irish grammar and vocabulary this week, in addition to giving me a deeper understanding of English words and terminology. And I can’t believe I’m already reading in the passive voice!

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Total hours of study so far: 1 (Familia Romana, chapter 5/35)

I’m enjoying these sessions so much that it takes every ounce of willpower to keep them within 10 minutes. The stories are really easy to read so far (with a very occasional reference to my Latin dictionary to double check), and I’m learning a surprising amount in such a short window of time. I’m sure the learning curve will get a lot steeper soon, but for the time being, I’m enjoying the ride, and this inductive style of learning to read another language feels like magic.

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Is it possible to learn a language over a longer sustained period by investing just 5-10 minutes a day?

After a short discussion on the forum HTLAL, the general consensus seemed to be that it depends on the language you’re studying, and which skills you want to bring to some level of proficiency and fluency. It was suggested that 5-10 minutes a day would be far too slow a pace for many languages, and to take one member’s excellent analogy, it would require some initial intensity to break free of Earth’s gravity first, before decelerating in a difficult language without fear of free-fall.

All the same, I love an odds-against challenge, and would like to give the 5-10 minutes a day approach a go for a while…if only to see where it takes me and shed some further light on the issue.

In choosing a language for this side-project, I’ve decided to make life easier for me by including some stipulations:

1. I’ve opted for proficiency and fluency in reading skills only. This significantly reduces the workload and is more realistic in the long run.

2. I want to take on a dead or mainly written language where correct pronunciation isn’t that important.

3. The alphabet and culture would ideally not be too far removed from my own native language.

4. I need access to plenty of quality reading materials and interesting stories.

5. It would be great if I could improve my understanding of other living languages through the process as well.

After battling with several ancient languages in mind, my choice is:
Learn to read Latin!

Small Project, Quite Risky! (image by Ssolbergj, source: Wikipedia)

I’ve never studied Latin before, so I’m starting out as a complete beginner and am under no illusions that fluency will be reached swiftly. I already have Hans Ørberg’s “Lingua Latina: Per Se Illustrata” on CD, which contains loads of interesting inductive reading material with accompanying audio to ignite the rocket boosters and keep me going (maybe not directly upwards, but hopefully at least forwards down the runway) for quite a while. I’ve also spied some excellent old Latin readers based on a similar inductive method in the Internet Archive (e.g. Arcadius Avellanus) and have bookmarked Evan Millner’s superb website “Latinum” for further perusal. After that, I’m open to suggestions?

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