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Where Should I Begin In Latin?

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Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby Lechin » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:24 pm

Hello everyone. I was wondering where I should begin in Latin? I don't want to learn just any kind of Latin. I want to learn Classical or Old Latin. I don't want to learn the other kinds of Latin because if I do I may get confused while translating. Any books to recommend to me? I want to go out and buy them.

I also have a question I want to add in my post. What is the difference between Old, Classical, and Modern Latin. Also, are the translations that different from each other? Thank you.

Lechin
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby Hampie » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:45 pm

Lechin wrote:Hello everyone. I was wondering where I should begin in Latin? I don't want to learn just any kind of Latin. I want to learn Classical or Old Latin. I don't want to learn the other kinds of Latin because if I do I may get confused while translating. Any books to recommend to me? I want to go out and buy them.

I also have a question I want to add in my post. What is the difference between Old, Classical, and Modern Latin. Also, are the translations that different from each other? Thank you.

Lechin

You will not be able to learn ‹Old Latin› from start — there are no texts, sources, etc. etc. available tha does not assume that you already have a good grasp of Classical Latin. In fact, most editions of Mediaeval Latin assimes previous knowlege of Classical Latin.

As for Modern Latin, if you mean Neo-latin, thus the latin of the 17th and 18th century, it’s more classical than mediaeval, but still carries the vocabulary invented during mediaeval times.
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby thesaurus » Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:47 am

I don't think the differences between Old, Classical, Modern Latin are important for something first learning the language. Moreover these categories are fairly artificial and, for the most part, don't reflect how the language is actually used. In this respect, Latin isn't like Greek, where the differences between modern and classical Greek are substantial.

As Hampie says, what is called "Old" Latin is very uncommon and more or less only an interest for linguists who study the development of the language.

If you are thinking of famous authors like Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, etc., you're thinking of what's called "Classical Latin." This is the form of the language taught everywhere, and it's what almost everyone is interested in learning. Sometimes you'll hear about "Golden Age" Latin, in comparison with the later "Silver Age." This refers only to different literary styles and tastes, not the language itself.

As far as almost everyone is concerned, Classical Latin is the same as Modern Latin. Strictly speaking, modern Latin is only "modern" because it was written after ancient Roman times--the language itself didn't really change. During the medieval ages the Latin shows a variety of changes (often in terms of spelling and writing), but this is more idiosyncratic than a "new" stage of the language. Later, during the Renaissance, scholars strove to cultivate the classical style.

What this means for you: study from whatever textbook you find that looks useful/interesting. All textbooks will teach you Classical Latin. If you learn the standard form of the language, you can read anything.

Addendum: If you are in fact only interested in reading Latin texts written in the medieval age, or by scientists, or some other very specific type of texts, there may be reason to skip the traditional textbooks. However, this applies to almost nobody (usually just scholars who are using specific sources for their research projects).
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby calvinist » Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:43 am

As thesaurus said, there is for all intents and purposes only one "Latin". Ancient Greek has different dialects with notable differences in grammar and vocabulary, but all of the written Latin material uses the same grammar, syntax, vocab, etc. Distinctions between "Classical" and "Ecclesiastical" are better understood as differences in genre/style than as distinct dialects. The differences are akin to those between a novel and a science textbook in modern English. The slight differences in word usage, etc., are due to genre.
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby Lechin » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:30 pm

Ah...I get it now. I kept getting confused because on wikipedia(I know I shouldn't believe everything on the internet) it said that Classical Latin has 23 letters in their alphabet. That was what I was looking for because Wikipedia said that Classical Latin does not have the letters U, J, W(Something like that). That's why I kept getting confused. Now I can learn in peace now. Thank you everyone. I just picked out a book I want to start with. All of you where very helpful. Thanks again!

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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby thesaurus » Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:32 pm

Lechin wrote:Ah...I get it now. I kept getting confused because on wikipedia(I know I shouldn't believe everything on the internet) it said that Classical Latin has 23 letters in their alphabet. That was what I was looking for because Wikipedia said that Classical Latin does not have the letters U, J, W(Something like that). That's why I kept getting confused. Now I can learn in peace now. Thank you everyone. I just picked out a book I want to start with. All of you where very helpful. Thanks again!

Lechin


Don't worry about the alphabet thing. It's really minor. Basically, later writers used different letters to represent some sounds that classical writers represented with one letter. Roman writers only had one shape for V and U, and only one shape for J and I.

In some texts, U and V are used interchangeably. "uua" vs "uva." Both are pronounced "uva," but one knows that a U between two vowels is pronounced like a V.

Same with I and J. "iuvenis" vs "juvenis." Both start with a "y" sound in English, as in "youth." One knows that an "i" before a vowel is pronounced with that "y" sound. Given the issue with U vs V, you could write this word as "iuuenis, juvenis, juuenis," etc. with no difference except for how it's written.
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby calvinist » Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:15 pm

"Jesus" would'vd been spelled "IESVS" on the cross. They also didnt have lower-case letters, punctuation, or word spacing at that time: THEYALSODIDNTHAVELOWERCASELETTERSPUNCTUATIONORWORDSPACINGATTHATTIME Basically, it's a slight difference in the written form of the language, but you can find religious texts using the "classical" spelling and classical texts using the j/u spelling. It depends on when the text was published, how much of a "purist" the publisher is, etc.
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby furrykef » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:08 am

thesaurus wrote:As Hampie says, what is called "Old" Latin is very uncommon and more or less only an interest for linguists who study the development of the language.

Not quite. I believe Plautus is generally considered Old Latin.

Lechin wrote:Ah...I get it now. I kept getting confused because on wikipedia(I know I shouldn't believe everything on the internet) it said that Classical Latin has 23 letters in their alphabet. That was what I was looking for because Wikipedia said that Classical Latin does not have the letters U, J, W(Something like that).

Spelling is a separate issue from the different varieties of Latin. Any kind of Latin can be spelled in several different ways, and all the different spellings are readable without significant difficulty (although a spelling system you're not used to will likely look weird).
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby jaihare » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:33 am

thesaurus wrote:In some texts, U and V are used interchangeably. "uua" vs "uva." Both are pronounced "uva," but one knows that a U between two vowels is pronounced like a V.


And, of course, by V you mean English W. :)
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby Lechin » Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:28 pm

I wanted to ask two more quick questions.
When it comes to pronunciation...How do you know that your supposed to pronounce the short or long vowel in a word? Also, when a letter has the - over it...Do you give it more of an emphasis or what?
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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby jaihare » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:06 pm

Lechin wrote:I wanted to ask two more quick questions.
When it comes to pronunciation...How do you know that your supposed to pronounce the short or long vowel in a word? Also, when a letter has the - over it...Do you give it more of an emphasis or what?


I'm not a Latin student or teacher (I've got Wheelock's grammar and workbook, but I've never managed to get through them!), but I would say that the long a (ā) is to be held (pronounced) for a longer period of time than a short a. The same with the other vowels. Long is held longer than short. If you think of it in terms of "emphasis," I think you'll end up putting the stress (accent) on the wrong syllable.

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Re: Where Should I Begin In Latin?

Postby calvinist » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:20 am

Beginning textbooks will usually mark all long vowels with a macron (-), and unmarked vowels are short. Some textbooks use different methods so be sure to verify by reading the introductory sections of your text. "Real" Latin doesn't use macrons though. By the time you start reading longer texts you'll have most of the vowel lengths memorized. Latin has it's own rhythm that will start to feel natural after a while and you'll be able to guess the vowel lengths in words you've never seen before.
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