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Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

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Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby Prozac » Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:10 pm

I've been puzzling over what might be the best technique for learning with Latina Lingua.

I was a good halfway through Wheelock before starting on Latina Lingua, but quickly found difficulty with the vocabulary after a few chapters. I figure that stopping mid-sentence and taking out a dictionary is probably not the best way to go about acquiring an idiom for the language. To avoid this, I thought it might be a good idea to learn off the list of new vocabulary at the end of each chapter by rote beforehand, with the idea that this would allow me to complete each chapter fluidly and without any stops.

Then again I'm beginning to wonder if neither of these approaches are best and that I should just force myself ahead and get the 'gist' of each word and learn it by association, context and repetition rather than by definition. I have some trouble with this approach because it goes against my more pedantic nature and I know I will just be anxious that I'm on the wrong track. And I wonder if this method might deprive me of the linguistic benefits of learning the language - I'm learning Latin not just to read Latin, but also to improve my command of language in general.

Also, I'm tempted to type out a translation of each chapter on the computer, but I have a feeling that the Orberg approach might discourage learning by translation.


So in summary

Should I:
1 - Look up any words in the dictionary as I go along
2 - Learn vocabulary in advance of each chapter
3 - Avoid using a dictionary at all

and
4 - Is it a bad idea to keep a written translation of each chapter
5 - Do any of the ancillary books include an English translation that I could check against my own?

Another thing,
I haven't been doing the exercises at the end of each chapter because I figured my work in Wheelock would be sufficient (and I guess because I was lazy too). Is this a bad idea? Are they worth doing?

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby little flower » Sun Feb 15, 2009 5:04 pm

hi prozac.
little flower here.i will give you my experience for what its worth.i spent approx two years on the three volume teach yourself series and did most of wheelock self tutorials. Then i got myself a tutor (dr Ann martin) who recommended that we work through LL (familia romana) together.After about ten months we are on chapter 30.The format we use is 1.we read the chapter together.she points out any new vocabulary/grammar and asks me questions (in latin) to see if i have understood the reading. 2. Having taped the skype conversation (via skylook) i write out all the questions and answers for future reference. 3. At the end of each chapter i do the exercises and check my answers in the answer book (teachers materials) .If i have any problems i email her or wait for the next session. 4. If i have time i also do the accompanying exercitia (1) exercises.
My thoughts on this are
A. I rather to spend as much time as possible trying to listen to and speak the languge than continuous reading/writing.
B. I prefer to learn vocabulary by repeated use (again speaking) for example via evan milners latinum podcast.
C. I have found that LL slowly builds confidence in grammar without over emphasis on original sources and authors in the beginning.I am looking for a foundation that will allow me to undertake seminary studies later on (p.g). I hope to be a priest in the latin rite(sspx).
D. Since the vulgate has a vocabulary of over fifty thousand words and a typical ecclesiastical latin grammar course (e.g. 28cd's from SOSM .inc) which should take at least 14 weeks there is plenty for me to work on well into the future.

hope that helps

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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby nov.ialiste » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:21 am

I am also working through LL alone. I had already worked through two thirds of D'Ooge's book so the first few chapters were fairly easy but new vocab was appearing not so far into the book.
Prozac wrote:
Should I:
1 - Look up any words in the dictionary as I go along
2 - Learn vocabulary in advance of each chapter
3 - Avoid using a dictionary at all

I think either 1 or 2 is fine. I look up each word that I do not know while reading. I don't find that it interferes too much and I feel confident that I did not misunderstand.
Prozac wrote:and
4 - Is it a bad idea to keep a written translation of each chapter
5 - Do any of the ancillary books include an English translation that I could check against my own?

The idea of LL is to learn Latin in Latin and not to resort to translation (obviously you have to look up words you don't know).

I should recommend that you do not make any translations, at least not at first: if at a later stage you want to for interest, then okay. That way the Latin which you have read and the ideas conveyed remain solely in Latin. This should help build facility in internalizing the structure of Latin.

My main foreign language is Finnish (as I live in Finland, but my native language is English). As you may know, Finnish is a highly inflected language and being non-Indo-European much more alien than Latin.

My experience with Finnish says that if want a truly fluent knowledge of the language, learning the language as far as possible in the language is the only way to do it.

So avoid excessive translation as a crutch, as it may retard your learning.
Prozac wrote:Another thing,
I haven't been doing the exercises at the end of each chapter because I figured my work in Wheelock would be sufficient (and I guess because I was lazy too). Is this a bad idea? Are they worth doing?

Thanks for your thoughts!

The exercises are good and help reinforce the new grammatical points. They are not very long. I recommend doing all the exercises. There is a whole separate book of exercises which provides more practise, but is not absolutely essential.
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby paulusnb » Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:17 am

I see nothing wrong with typing out your translations. I learn by writing. Things like Lingua Latina can help me to an extant, but I have to write my charts and my vocab over and over. As far as the right method....we should speak and listen to Latin from the time we were born. Every other method is inferior. But, this is not the hand we have been dealt. Pick up the language however you can.

As far as vocab with Lingua Latina, just back up a few chapters and read through again. You will get a little further each time.
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby Superavi » Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:41 am

I agree with nov.ialiste. Writing out translations can become an unnecessary crutch. I have to think much more by coming up with a translation on the fly each time I read a passage than simply writing it down and being able to refer back. The key is to be able to have your mind really think in Latin and that will only happen by making it work as hard as possible.
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby paulusnb » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:13 pm

Superavi wrote:Writing out translations can become an unnecessary crutch. I have to think much more by coming up with a translation on the fly each time I read a passage than simply writing it down and being able to refer back. The key is to be able to have your mind really think in Latin and that will only happen by making it work as hard as possible.


Since when is translating a crutch? Sure, it would be silly to type out a translation and then refer back, but writing out a translation is more difficult than reading in the head, and thus meets your "hard as possible" criterion. I also think that writing out a translation makes one think more specifically about morphology and grammar. I for one can look at practice sentences all I want, but I do not feel I have really mastered them until I have written down a translation.
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby thesaurus » Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:44 pm

I would recommend trying as hard as you can to get by without using any resources external to the LL series itself. In practicality this might mean reading the chapter slowly, doing the exercises, and only then looking up words you couldn't figure out from context. Having completed the series myself after having proceeded through Wheelock, I understand all of your reservations about the method. However, part of the magic of LL is that the longer you linger in its pages, the more often your questions solve themselves. This was my experience at least. I'd be stuck on some word that'd keep popping up, or unsure of its use in context. The vast majority of these cases would eventually 'click', and some sentence would make the meaning clear. Of course, there were occasionally words that I'd never get and then I'd look them up in retrospect. But I wasn't referencing the dictionary very often, and only AFTER I did the chapter reading. The only caveat is that I had more preparation than many who start LL, so quite possibly I learned many words ahead of time by rote.

PS Rather than 'knowing' a sentence when translating it, one should feel as if they 'know' a sentence in a foreign language when they read it and its meaning is immediately clear... not the meaning in English, but the meaning itself.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby spiphany » Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:47 pm

Translation has a place in language learning. It doesn't matter who you are or what method you're using to learn the language. I am essentially fluent in German, but there are still times where I will translate a difficult sentence in order to more clearly understand exactly what the author is saying, and usually I know it better as a result of taking it apart and analyzing it. Or where finding an English equivalent can help me to use a new piece of vocabularly correctly.

The risk (all too common in classics), however, is that translation becomes a substitution for comprehension. That you become unable to even get the overall sense of a passage without transforming it word for word into English. When this happens, you're not really learning the other language at all, just learning to perform a set of conversions.

So: my advice would be to translate when you feel that it will be useful for helping you understand the Latin, but there's probably no point in writing out a translation of every single passage just on general principles.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby paulusnb » Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:07 pm

thesaurus wrote:PS Rather than 'knowing' a sentence when translating it, one should feel as if they 'know' a sentence in a foreign language when they read it and its meaning is immediately clear... not the meaning in English, but the meaning itself.


yes Yes

But......translation is a way to show mastery. Sure, thinking/writing in a language is wonderful, but to be able to transfer thinking in one to thinking in another shows, to me, a certain type of mastery, even if the meaning is "immediately clear." I have translated certain Catullus poems dozens of times with classes, but I still get satisfaction from writing out translations.

Why else would Lucus Eques have wanted to do his Greek Forum a while back in Latin, other than to practice transferring one language into another?

Guys, Lingua Latina is great, but I do not think it is a jealous mistress. I have seen her leave her bite marks on the lips of other men.

Also, the original poster said the purpose was not necessarily just learning Latin, but bulking up his grammar.
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby nov.ialiste » Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:07 pm

paulusnb wrote: I also think that writing out a translation makes one think more specifically about morphology and grammar.

This is why I suggested to the OP that he may make translations, but later.
paulusnb wrote: I for one can look at practice sentences all I want, but I do not feel I have really mastered them until I have written down a translation.

This is a sign that you are not internalizing the language.

To know a language means to be able to use it actively and passively without reference to any other language and in complete comfort.

In my experience, translating, whether in one's mind or on paper, is a significant hindrance to achieving fluency of use, i.e. internalization.
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby paulusnb » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:24 pm

nov.ialiste wrote:This is a sign that you are not internalizing the language.


First off, I was speaking from the point of view of someone new to language for someone new to Latin.

Ten years ago, when I was new to Latin and working on practice sentences for the Oxford Latin Course, I might not have been what you call "internalizing." I could be off on this, but "internalizing" the fake sentences in Latin books is not all that difficult or that big a deal. I do not think that breaking a sentence down into its parts is damaging, especially if that is what your teacher wants you to do, or if you like thinking about grammar.


If a teacher asks a student to rewrite a Hamlet soliloquy, is he abandoning Shakespeare's language or testing the student's understanding? So, if I explain a Shakespeare passage to students, I am doing a disservice to them?

And when I have my students translate a passage from Ecce Romani, in order to "internalize" the language we should really all sit there and nod at each other, using no English? I understand Spanish/French teachers do this. However, their end justifies their means. How many Spanish III classes are reading Cervantes?
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby NateBC » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:39 pm

Can someone help me with the declensions of the neuter case, please. :mrgreen:
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Re: Latina Lingua Techniques and Other Wonderings

Postby Superavi » Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:48 pm

Can someone help me with the declensions of the neuter case, please.


To ask for the declensions of the neuter case is not correct. For one neuter is not a case. There are six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, ablative, and vocative. The case tells what the noun is doing in the sentence. There are three genders: feminine, masculine, and neuter. For most items the gender seems arbitrarily assigned. The neuter gender appears in three separate declensions (2nd, 3rd, and 4th). They are easy to decline in the 2nd and 4th, but get somewhat tricky in the 3rd with the possibility of i-stems. The biggest things to understand with neuters are that the nom and acc are identical in the singular, and in the plural they end in -a.
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