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How to improve my Latin?

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How to improve my Latin?

Postby Slappo » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:46 pm

Salvete!

Does anyone have suggestions for improving my Latin skills? I've gone through all of Wheelock's 6th edition in school and am now working on Wheelock's Latin Reader, however I don't find it to have been a very good education in Latin. I think this was in part because it is so easy to blow off really studying Wheelock to semi-comprehend the lessons and translate the sentences. The grammar isn't drilled into you. I have an especially hard time with my verbs (periphrastics, supines, subjunctives, gerunds, and gerundives).

I would hate to go back to Wheelock 6th edition and try to understand the material better. I've heard a lot about Lingua Latina just in the past 12 hours on this site and am wondering if it would be a good way to start from scratch and go through all of the lessons as if I had never seen Latin before.

I eventually want to be able to look at Latin and semi-automatically translate it in my head rather then trying to figure out what kind of grammar is being used.

Gratias tibi do si me iuvare potes! I give thanks to you if you are able to help me!
Semper ubi sub ubi!
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Re: How to improve my Latin?

Postby paulusnb » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:51 pm

Lingua Latina is a good idea. Start with Book I. It is a fun read. If it is too easy at first, you will eventually come to a section that is challenging enough.
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: How to improve my Latin?

Postby Slappo » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:22 am

Book I is: Lingua Latina: Pars I: Familia Romana (Latin Edition) (Pt. 1) right?

Would you recommend getting either of these to go with it?
Lingua Latina: A College Companion based on Hans Orberg's Latine Disco, with Vocabulary and Grammar (Perfect Paperback)
Lingua Latina: Pars I--Exercitia Latina I (Latin Edition) (Pt. 1, No. 1) (Paperback)

Or for someone who is already a second year Latin student and *should* understand all the grammar anyways should I just get the book?
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Re: How to improve my Latin?

Postby paulusnb » Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:26 am

Slappo wrote:Would you recommend getting either of these to go with it?
Lingua Latina: A College Companion based on Hans Orberg's Latine Disco, with Vocabulary and Grammar (Perfect Paperback)
Lingua Latina: Pars I--Exercitia Latina I (Latin Edition) (Pt. 1, No. 1) (Paperback)


I do not know about the college companion book. Maybe others can comment.

Exercita Latina will not "catch you up" with grammar in the sense that it will explain it all to you. Exercita Latina will help if you will complete it. There are exercises in the book already, and the companion is more of the same. I for one always start off with good intentions and buy the exercise books and never complete them. It is up to you. It cannot hurt.

Slappo wrote:Or for someone who is already a second year Latin student and *should* understand all the grammar anyways should I just get the book?


The book is all you need. Everything else is Lagniappe. The readings are self-explanatory.
Last edited by paulusnb on Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to improve my Latin?

Postby modus.irrealis » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:36 pm

I can tell you my experiences because after I had gone through Wheelock, I had trouble understanding any real Latin I tried to read (I'm still scared of reading Tacitus even if I've learned a lot since I first did). Then a couple years later I decided to really work on my Latin and I was in the library looking for editions, and I found an edition of Caesar's Gallic War that was full of helpful notes -- I believe it was the one you can see at http://books.google.ca/books?id=V9oZAAAAIAAJ&pgis=1, which is also available at the Perseus site. At first it was slow (or very slow) with me looking up so many of the words and relying heavily on the notes to understand the grammar, but after the first book I had made a lot of progress, especially with gerundives and indirect discourse, which started to become natural after that. And that's also where I learned about historical infinitives :D. And after reading the first three books with the notes, I then got the Loeb edition of Caesar's work and I've been going through that and I have to say that I'm really happy with the way my vocabulary and grammar have progressed, and I only rarely have to go look up the notes for help since I can just glance over at the translation and see why the Latin means what it means, which I couldn't always do before starting on Caesar. At the same time, I've been reading some Medieval Latin, and everything's going very nicely, so hopefully I've been learning to read Latin rather than just learning to read Caesar (if you know what I mean).

So that's another option. I mean, there are a lot of books from the late 19th century, early 20th century that are geared towards teenage students and they have extensive notes which I found helpful. And although some of them use a modified text to make things easier, there are a lot that use the actual Latin.
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Re: How to improve my Latin?

Postby thesaurus » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:52 am

Slappo wrote:I eventually want to be able to look at Latin and semi-automatically translate it in my head rather then trying to figure out what kind of grammar is being used.


You'll be able to do even better than this if you stick with your studies. Reading a foreign language can work in different phases, and you hint at this here. First, you spend your time trying to figure out the grammatical constructions; this is when you're still trying to memorize the paradigms and constructions. Second, you read the sentence and try to figure out what it means in your native language. This is what you say your aiming at. However, there is a third stage that's best of all and should be your ultimate goal; that is, you read the Latin sentence and you immediately understand (not translate) what it says. This may sound impossible, but it's not, and this is the standard in all living languages. If you read enough Latin (outside of grammar books) you'll begin to acquire this third stage, but it takes time.

modus.irrealis wrote:So that's another option. I mean, there are a lot of books from the late 19th century, early 20th century that are geared towards teenage students and they have extensive notes which I found helpful. And although some of them use a modified text to make things easier, there are a lot that use the actual Latin.


I heartily second this recommendation. Early school texts have been very helpful in helping me with Greek. Possibly the best part is that there are so many of them freely available online, via Google Books etc. Chances are if you Google Caeser, Cicero, or any classical author, lots of editions will come up with varying levels of commentary and translation. If you need extra help, don't be afraid to look at the commentaries of multiple editions; each editor can explain things in different ways. Once you're further along in your Latin, you may find it helpful to use editions that include Latin commentary, often by way of paraphrase or simple explanations.

If you're looking for a modern and very helpful treatment of Caesar in the style of Lingua Latina (because it's by the same author!), check this out:
http://www.amazon.com/Lingua-Latina-Cae ... 518&sr=1-9
It was my first Latin text after transitioning off of Wheelock and it was a great boon.
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: How to improve my Latin?

Postby Slappo » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:23 am

Does anyone have experience with Wheelock's Latin Reader? If so, what do you think of it? I'm finding it a difficult transition from wheelock's grammar to latin reader. I don't feel prepared having studied the grammar to move to what he's giving us.
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Re: How to improve my Latin?

Postby paulusnb » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:50 am

Slappo wrote:I don't feel prepared having studied the grammar to move to what he's giving us.


You have just described the experiences of Latin students everywhere. :D

On a side note, the glee I am taking over your pain must be what redneck dads feel like when they introduce their sons to the devil-water.



But, to be serious, I do not have experience with this reader.
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: How to improve my Latin?

Postby Slappo » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:57 am

Oh good! I'm on the right track! :(
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Re: How to improve my Latin?

Postby Essorant » Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:35 pm

I would recommend incorporating both Lingua Latina and the Loeb edition of Caesar's Gallic war and reading some of both every day. Read at least a chapter from Lingua Latina every day and at least a page from Caesar's Gallic War, and you shall see your abilities flowering in no time. Since you are already forearmed with your learning from Wheelock, Lingua Latina should afford a place where you may have ease and pleasure in reading, not needing to pressure and question yourself about the grammar too much, but Caesar's Gallic War on the other hand is where you may keep up on reading normal (but still easier) Latin, being careful and using a dictionary and your grammarbook to help you with words and grammar whereever needed.

But no matter what text you use, if you have a problem with something, gerund or gerundives, supines, subjunctives, etc, don't be afraid to bring it up in this forum. There are many people that may help you out here.
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