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If a Lingua Latina forum were created, would you use it to aid you in your studies?

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The Lingua Latina board

Postby nostos » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:48 pm

Lingua Latina (Hans Ørberg) is a two part series entirely in Latin that will allow one to read the language without relying on translation; this is accomplished by starting out with very basic Latin sentences whose meanings are obvious to the student, coupled with illustrations that help present the meaning of the text. The text becomes more complex as the student reads on, but it is done so that the student always understands the material (the text is smoothly graded), not relying on translation before understanding takes place. The grammar is still taught at the end of each section, but the grammar is there only to reinforce what has been learned by example, rather than learning the grammar first, translating the Latin text into the student's native tongue, and thus understanding the Latin text.

In these forums, certain people (myself included) have neglected this approach to learning Latin by denying its legitimacy. However, this is how all the modern languages are taught: the primary rule is do not translate; immerse yourself in the language. Ørberg has written two books that allow this to be done. It is through doing this that the student reaches a level of proficiency that allows them to read and understand directly (no translation of the target language) Cicero et al.

This is by no means an attempt to invalidate teaching grammar first; it is just an attempt to open up new ways of teaching for those who want them. I doubt very much that benissimus, for example, or whiteoctave, translate anymore. But to deny that this method works, to dismiss it enitirely or to stifle any attempt at bringing it to light is uncharacteristic of Textkit and not at all progressive. Part of the beauty of these boards is that they are an autodidact's haven. People have different learning styles; I think we should be open to all of them, and make them legitimate by providing an outlet for a method of teaching as well-established as this one is in the modern languages (inflected or not).
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Postby bellum paxque » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:04 am

I have recently ordered the first half of Lingua Latina, both to review grammatical concepts and vocabulary that have grown vague in my mind, and to evaluate its utility as a teaching tool. Creating a forum dedicated to the series would be an excellent means of focusing discussion, at least for me, and also for others.

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Postby Brian » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:50 pm

Speaking of Lingua Latina

I have a translation question. Lingua Latin Part One Familia Romana

Page 107, line 104 Venter vacuus est mihi. Is this a dative of possessor contsruction? My stomach is empty.??? I'm not sure.

Double checking. Any assistance greatly appreciated

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Postby TADW_Elessar » Wed Dec 07, 2005 1:06 pm

Page 107, line 104 Venter vacuus est mihi. Is this a dative of possessor contsruction? My stomach is empty.?


Yes, I think so.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:13 pm

Salue, Brian.

Yes it is. In Latin, as in the modern Romance languages (and also German, actually), to refer to any body part with the possessive pronoun "my" is frowned upon. Outside of Anglophony, it's always "the stomach to me is empty." And if it's understood to whom the body part belongs, it's always just "the hand is hot," "the head is in pain," and so forth, and never "mine" or "yours," etc.
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Postby Adelheid » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:27 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:Outside of Anglophony, it's always "the stomach to me is empty."


Always? In Dutch we say "mijn buik is leeg", just the same as in English. Or is Dutch part of Anglophony? And what would the same sentence be in German? It is not "mein Bauch ist leer" after all?
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Postby TADW_Elessar » Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:37 am

Lucus Eques wrote:Salue, Brian.

Yes it is. In Latin, as in the modern Romance languages (and also German, actually), to refer to any body part with the possessive pronoun "my" is frowned upon. Outside of Anglophony, it's always "the stomach to me is empty." And if it's understood to whom the body part belongs, it's always just "the hand is hot," "the head is in pain," and so forth, and never "mine" or "yours," etc.


Well, in Italian (the Romance Language) we do use possessive adjectives and pronouns: the "dative" construction has completely disappeared.[/i]
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Postby Adelheid » Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:09 am

TADW_Elessar wrote:Well, in Italian (the Romance Language) we do use possessive adjectives and pronouns: the "dative" construction has completely disappeared.[/i]


Don't you say in Italian "Mi fa male la testa", I thougt that was just what Lucus meant, and what about "Ho mal di testa", no use of a possessive pronoun?

I ofcourse started learning Italian a long time ago (over 17 years), so could it be that the examples I gave are really outdated now :shock: ?
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Postby Lucus Eques » Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:57 pm

Adelheid wrote:
Lucus Eques wrote:Outside of Anglophony, it's always "the stomach to me is empty."


Always? In Dutch we say "mijn buik is leeg", just the same as in English. Or is Dutch part of Anglophony? And what would the same sentence be in German? It is not "mein Bauch ist leer" after all?


Ah really? I'm unfamiliar with Dutch, and German is the extent of my Teutonic experience. "Der Bauch ist leer" is what I would expect, and "der Kopf tut mir weh," etc.

Well, in Italian (the Romance Language) we do use possessive adjectives and pronouns: the "dative" construction has completely disappeared


Ciao, Elessar! (un bel nome elfico!) Usiamo gli aggettivi possessivi per il corpo? Da quando? Cioè, si usano per referire specificamente a 'me', o a 'te', ma di solito sono sottointesi, no? "Mi fa male la mano," ma, "Mi fa male la mia mano, e non la tua," ecc. "Lei mette la testa sulla spalla," e ci vuole il contesto per chiarire di cui appartiene quella testa, e quella spalla.

Don't you say in Italian "Mi fa male la testa", I thougt that was just what Lucus meant, and what about "Ho mal di testa", no use of a possessive pronoun?

I ofcourse started learning Italian a long time ago (over 17 years), so could it be that the examples I gave are really outdated now ?


I'd say you're right on, Adelheid.


A proposito, Elessar, mi piace tanto il tuo LatinBlog! Anch'io ne volevo fare prima o poi, ma tu hai vinto. ;-) Macte! Me spero nuntios tuos quam saepissime legere!
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Postby TADW_Elessar » Thu Dec 08, 2005 6:39 pm

Ciao, Elessar! (un bel nome elfico!) Usiamo gli aggettivi possessivi per il corpo? Da quando? Cioè, si usano per referire specificamente a 'me', o a 'te', ma di solito sono sottointesi, no? "Mi fa male la mano," ma, "Mi fa male la mia mano, e non la tua," ecc. "Lei mette la testa sulla spalla," e ci vuole il contesto per chiarire di cui appartiene quella testa, e quella spalla.


Giusto, non avevo pensato alla frase :)
Ma comunque il significato del possessivo è nella particella "mi", e aggiungere l'aggettivo per mano sarebbe del tutto inutile (non può far male a me la mano di un altro, trapianti esclusi :))
Per lo stesso motivo, non è necessario l'aggettivo nemmeno in "Ho lo stomaco vuoto".

A proposito, Elessar, mi piace tanto il tuo LatinBlog! Anch'io ne volevo fare prima o poi, ma tu hai vinto. Macte! Me spero nuntios tuos quam saepissime legere!


Gratias sescentas tibi ago :)
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Postby Deudeditus » Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:19 pm

Always? In Dutch we say "mijn buik is leeg", just the same as in English. Or is Dutch part of Anglophony?


I believe Dutch and English could be counted as sister languages, and I would call them both Anglo languages. The British Anglo-Saxons and the Dutch come from the same stock, unless my history is faulty, so it would make sense that they would be similar.
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Postby Adelheid » Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:46 pm

Deudeditus wrote:I believe Dutch and English could be counted as sister languages


Ha, you are right! Wikipedia (it wouldn't spread false info about THIS now would it :P ) states that Swedish, Norwegian, German, Dutch and English belong to the German subfamily of languages.

I should start reading that book on Indo-European linguistics already! Argh, and I just checked: it is mentioned in Wheelock too (and I actually read that introduction not too long ago)!

I must be getting old...
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Dec 10, 2005 12:59 am

Of the world's most widely spoken languages, Dutch is the one closest to English. Of all living languages, Frisian, another language spoken in the Netherlands is the closest to English (from what I understand, it is somewhere between English and Dutch). I have heard that the sentence "Good bread and good cheese makes good English and good Frees" is equally understandable to both English and Frisian speakers, accents nonwithstanding.
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Postby Deudeditus » Sat Dec 10, 2005 7:22 pm

I met a couple of ladies who spoke frisian and dutch (and english and latin and german and italian... :shock: ) I asked them to speak it for me and I was surprised that I could understand a little of it. Actually, one of them is a latin teacher and encouraged me to find a program or something online... So I came here. funny
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Postby vir litterarum » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:17 pm

Whenever a dative of a personal pronoun is used with a form of the being verb, it is generally considered to typically be a dative of possession.
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Postby benissimus » Sun Dec 11, 2005 8:57 pm

nostos wrote:In these forums, certain people (myself included) have neglected this approach to learning Latin by denying its legitimacy. However, this is how all the modern languages are taught: the primary rule is do not translate; immerse yourself in the language. �rberg has written two books that allow this to be done. It is through doing this that the student reaches a level of proficiency that allows them to read and understand directly (no translation of the target language) Cicero et al.

I for one have never actually meant to say that the Lingua Latina series is ineffective. The reason for the jokes and mockery is that a certain member of the board has attempted to defame other proven reliable methods for learning Latin and then conveniently suggested Lingua Latina as the solution. Naturally, those who use the grammatical approach are offended by his claims that it is the inferior method. In fact, nostos, it is the same sort of ridicule of which you are trying to portray Lingua Latina the victim.

More importantly, he has also attempted to convert new posters to Lingua Latina when all they were doing was asking for help on some Latin questions. I am not alone in believing that this is beyond mere endorsement, and virtually identical to advertising, and it is annoying. I mean, just look at the first page of this thread if you don't know what I am talking about. He's a new student, in a class, he's learning, but he asks for help and then gets recommended a new book? That is not what he asked for and not what he needed either, and I see this is as an abuse of the authority that comes with knowing more about a field than someone who is just starting.

Anyways, I will be happy if a new board is made for Lingua Latina, although I would really prefer if all the Latin boards were recombined so that we might have less confusion from newbies and that the posting might be less diluted.

Lucus Eques wrote:Salue, Brian.

Yes it is. In Latin, as in the modern Romance languages (and also German, actually), to refer to any body part with the possessive pronoun "my" is frowned upon. Outside of Anglophony, it's always "the stomach to me is empty." And if it's understood to whom the body part belongs, it's always just "the hand is hot," "the head is in pain," and so forth, and never "mine" or "yours," etc.

Hi Lucus,

Are you just triangulating this Latin "rule" from its modern descendent languages, or did you actually read this in a reputable grammar? I know of several examples of possessive adjectives being used with names of body parts, including uenter and caput (couldn't find manus though). The dative of possession seems to be only one option, as was my original belief.
Last edited by benissimus on Sun Dec 11, 2005 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Episcopus » Sun Dec 11, 2005 9:57 pm

the use of a possessive adjective with a body part is in no way 'frowned upon': it is used as required - whether for the sake of metre (sometimes a superfluous poss. adj., just as perhaps a less common deponent might replace a typically active form) or indeed where there is a necessity thereof for emphatic reasons, whilst a romance language might use the disjunctive pronouns. latin is notably more flexible than your romance languages or that teutonic titfest they call german - all mere fragments of classical glory. take for example silver usage of seneca the younger: since we are on the subject of possessive adjectives, did hans orberg tell you (in latin of course) that the genitive of the personal pronoun is never used in a possessive sense, that we use the adjective instead, as all other primers? well think again: e.c. cuperem itaque tecum communicare tam subitam mutationem mei (I. VI. 2.)
a romance language such as french does not have "l'évêque de moi" instead of "mon évêque". your naiveté in that which concerns the apparent 'similitudes' between highly inflected latin and a very vulgar descendant thereof such as italian constitutes ill, i fear, with being a true classicist.

~E
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Postby nostos » Mon Dec 12, 2005 2:27 am

benissimus wrote:I for one have never actually meant to say that the Lingua Latina series is ineffective. The reason for the jokes and mockery is that a certain member of the board has attempted to defame other proven reliable methods for learning Latin and then conveniently suggested Lingua Latina as the solution. Naturally, those who use the grammatical approach are offended by his claims that it is the inferior method. In fact, nostos, it is the same sort of ridicule of which you are trying to portray Lingua Latina the victim.


I should clarify. I think that the issue has been a heated one and thus it became much more polarised for the sake of argument than any of us really do in our normal learning, all beginning with E's initially facetious post on Lucus and Hans that spiralled into what I view as personal attacks. This post was in the wake of that one; the fuel might have run out, but the flame was still burning.

I hadn't intended to portray either method as victim to anything (I dislike that word and am ashamed that I would post a topic that could even marginally be interpreted as such; what I write often has connotations which are not immediately visible to me). I never meant that you, benissime care, were stating that that LL was ineffective; it is very possible that no one ever said this exactly (except me; I recall something to the effect of 'Dowling expects that with a few overall grammatical notes, you'll be able to deduce whole slews of Latin constructions', dismissing before knowing anything about Ørberg or LL). Very like me to use myself in reference to the whole :(

By the same token, I didn't mean to imply that grammar first is in any way inferior (I know you weren't referring to me but I want to be absolutely clear on my position), or that it doesn't work. Quite obviously it does very well, as you, whiteoctave, and several others here can attest to with plenary conviction. I myself have learned 36 chapters worth of Latin this way (and will continue to the end, prefer it or not), do not believe that Wheelock is as bad as his critics make him out to be (it's an intro, dammit, not a monograph), and will continue to refer to my A&G and G&L whenever something doesn't want to get into this brain. It also seems to me that had I not had such a strong grammatical background first, the stuff said in LL, for example the 'derivational morphology' there given (Zaarin in another topic, though he was saying something else entirely), probably would have made much less immediate sense to me than it does in actuality.

Yet it remains that on these boards, there is nothing but the grammar first approach, which tips the scales because, in my view, it makes the grammar last approach seem inherently flawed (or else we'd have a representation of both of them here). I don't feel that grammar last is inherently less effective than grammar first, or vice-versa; I firmly believe it is all a matter of learning style. Why not have them both?

Anyways, I will be happy if a new board is made for Lingua Latina, although I would really prefer if all the Latin boards were recombined so that we might have less confusion from newbies and that the posting might be less diluted.


I think it is not the book you use but the style that's employed in that book which truly makes the moderators more or less apt to handle particular questions. Why don't we switch the Latin boards to an amalgamated grammar first board and a new grammar last board (in more formal and descriptive terminology)? I doubt that either will drop out of use. Also, we could have a one paragraph note briefly stating the philosophy behind each of the approaches (without, of course, employing phrases that detract from one method in order to bolster the other) so that each states clearly what it is doing; that way we have two strong boards instead of four Latin boards with three being diluted ones. Also I think that many people will use them both.
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Postby nostos » Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:12 am

benissimus wrote:I am not alone in believing that this is beyond mere endorsement, and virtually identical to advertising, and it is annoying.


One more thing, cuz it's been a while now and he hasn't responded to this so I'll give my opinion on the issue.

Although I absolutely agree with your annoyance at having him say the grammar first method is inferior (rather than inferior to him, or not mentioning it at all which would be best), I don't think that what he is doing is anywhere near endorsement. I think he promotes the book so much only because he truly believes in it. LL is the only book so far, at least which I have seen, to go by the grammar last method, and therefore he supports it fervently.

Though it is much easier to assume that he is somehow scamming the newer members of this board, this, in my opinion, looks at him from the wrong angle: it assumes he has ulterior motives and provides an explanation for those motives. I feel that this assumption is false, and that he does not mean to scam anyone. No where has it been mentioned except in this thread that what he is doing is unethical, and I doubt he himself sees himself as trying to 'boost the sales' of LL. Think of the publishing industry: he could only get maximum $1.50, maybe $2 per book he sells. He sells 20 books, that's 40 bucks max. I think someone who can afford a trip to Italy to study for a semester or two wouldn't waste his time on such a pittance.

I also feel that he 'advertises' because he feels that the scales are tipped towards grammar first. He has, in the thread you've given, shown that his enthusiasm for the book is genuine (not caring about the fact that the book was bought, just caring about the fact that someone else actually learns from it).

I really see nothing wrong with what he has done thus far.
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:39 am

I did say in another post that I thought that Lucus was in a kickback system, but that comment was very tongue-n-cheeck :P I agree he does it because he honestly believes it's the best Latin book.

On the other hand, mentioning the book in a thread such as Benissimus described is not the best thing either.

Personally, I think Lucus should just put it in his signature, and write about it in his actual posts much less frequently - but this is just a friendly suggestion, not that it's bad if he does otherwise or anything.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue Dec 13, 2005 6:38 pm

The reason for the jokes and mockery is that a certain member


I'm really beginning to weary of this anonymous "certain member" business. I've already freely admitted to my excessive publication of the series, and laughed about it openly. You know who I am. Call me by my name.

a certain member of the board has attempted to defame other proven reliable methods for learning Latin and then conveniently suggested Lingua Latina as the solution.


You make it sound like I'm one of the coniurati. That I "conveniently" offer Lingua Latina as the "solution" suggests that I'm trying to dupe people into something. If you read my numerous posts of this nature (repetative as they are altogether), it will be seen that I honestly express my displeasure with the book Wheelock (a sentiment in which I am not alone), and say how Lingua Latina opened every door for me.

Your vaguery about which text I've "attempted to defame" is also peculiar. I've verly openly made known my discontent with Wheelock, and rejected it on the basis that it teaches naught more than how to translate the Sententiae in the back. That it does not teach a tangibile, or even pleasant Latin. As far as regards its limitations, with me, Benissime, you have already agreed, while maintaining nevertheless that the text has merits for beginners. Esto.

Naturally, those who use the grammatical approach are offended by his claims that it is the inferior method.


"Grammatical approach" is a very poor term, for a number of reasons. Most explicitly, the approach of Wheelock and its kin, as with virtually every Latin text conceived for centuries, is the approach of teaching Latin by means of another language. That is, Wheelock's English version teaches Latin in English. And a German version in German, and an Italian one in Italian. Makes perfect sense. That's why teaching a language only in that language is a revolutionary concept, one not alien at all to the modern languages.

"Grammatical approach" also would seem to indicate that Lingua Latina does not teach grammar. How absurd a concept. It's impossible to teach a language without teaching grammar. The difference between Lingua Latina and Wheelock is merely that Lingua Latina teaches grammar by example, in context, the same way that I've learned to write these English words and use English grammar to form their syntax by repeating my parents and books and all other voices I've heard or read in my life. Wheelock teaches, if by example, out of context (relative to LL at least). And also, Lingua Latina lacks unnecessary terminology, invented by grammarians for the inanest of purposes, hardly necessary for utilizing the meat of the language. Until a few weeks ago, I never knew the term for an "ablative absolute," even though I'd been using it correctly (to say nothing of understanding) for months. Grammatical terminology is effective for understanding the inner complexities of a tongue at a much more advanced level, but for it to be employed at the earliest stages is a horrifically bad idea. We wonder why the classics seem to die.

So, in short, the best way to describe the Wheelock et al. method would be the 'mother-tongue-first approach'. The approach of 'Lingua Latina' is eponymic.

More importantly, he has also attempted to convert new posters to Lingua Latina when all they were doing was asking for help on some Latin questions. I am not alone in believing that this is beyond mere endorsement, and virtually identical to advertising, and it is annoying. I mean, just look at the first page of this thread if you don't know what I am talking about. He's a new student, in a class, he's learning, but he asks for help and then gets recommended a new book? That is not what he asked for and not what he needed either, and I see this is as an abuse of the authority that comes with knowing more about a field than someone who is just starting.


Such extremes! Heavens. All right, first of all, at that time I had so very little time to frequent the boards, and I am always excited to present Lingua Latina to someone new, for the explicit reason that I merely want him to learn Latin. I knew the others would have much more time and far greater descriptive capacity to help the student than I, and moreover, my mind was functioning in the mode of "give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime." In my devoutest opinion, I couldn't believe that to be truer. And more than that, Amans had already responded in full to the student; any addition on my part directly related to his questions would have been a waste of his time. And more than that, he already had Lingua Latina, and I offered some of my personal experience in order to help him along. You indeed chose an optimum example, Benssime, to reveal my true intentions. And not to quibble over disrespect, but exactly what was your contribution to this student's learning process? A witty remark in Latin at my expense?

"Abuse of authority"? What authority have I been given? What authority that this new student knew of? I'm just another member offering a helpful link, with a minumum of pedantic instruction. And this after he'd already been helped in direct reference to his question by another. He doesn't have to read, and he doesn't have to respond. This is a free society, and a free forum.


Now, as to the matter at hand: I stand accused of attempting to convert, even corrupt our society's youth. I am certainly no Socrates, but in our didactic sense as Latin teachers and learners, Hans Ørberg certainly qualifies. Nevertheless, it seems I am coming to resemble the ugly Athenian in many respects: I am "annoying." I criticize the "reliable methods" of the past. Actually, in most respects I'm considerably less annoying and critical than our protean Philosopher. Nor am I a sage in any respect.

What I am is this: passionate. I am incredibly passionate about the Latin language. A phrase so utterly laughable, even to the most diehard among us it causes to crack a smile. And for good reason. I am crazy. Working every single day all summer, I litterally wrote out every single chapter of the first volume of Lingua Latina, and have it even now in my computer, in order to do a year's worth of study in only three months. I have gone to extraordinary efforts to seek out groups and individuals who speak Latin, from Vatican priests to Milanese architects, and I have come to succeed in my quest, whose end I do not yet know. I desire ardently to speak Latin and utilize it in every living way possible. And why would I want to do such a thing? I want to see Latin live. I want to hear Latin spoken and to read it written, awaken the living culture whose tongue remains nearly mute for generations, yet whose impact affects us all profoundly every single day. I want the wisdom of the ages to reinvigorate our minds and broaden our humanity as much as possible. Latin is the key to understanding our society, our language, our architecture, our heritage, our very names. Latin is the key to unlocking the superficial exterior of modern existence to reveal the infinitely rich foundations upon which we walk, as litterally as the fancy Florentines in the piazza who walk over Medieval ruins that lay upon Imperial ruins which cover Republican ruins which stand upon Etruscan ruins.

And the key to Latin, I believe better than any other, is Lingua Latina. Neither its method, nor that of Dowling, may be perfect, or even apt for everyone. But its even less likely that the monoscopic "traditional" methods are so universally applicable.

I thought this was a free forum. Do you want to silence me for being annoying? If you're going to suggest such a thing, at least refer to me by my name, instead of a pronoun. Even Episcopus, in all his own annoying, that is, entertaining idiosyncrasies, has the courtesy to do that.

Perhaps indeed for my crimes, which I couldn't intend more facetiously, the Democracy and the Council will serve up to me the hemlock. In the meantime I will continue to speak my mind, freely, and respect the liberty and the peace of our pleasant forum without being accused, without being harrassed, and without being mocked.
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Postby whiteoctave » Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:40 pm

so many words spent on so trite a topic! that Hans seems Socratic to you sounds alarming to me, but i have learnt to embrace these quirks of your judgment. as to the originality of the great man's method, i think this can only be granted if one ignores the history of the subject. messrs Rouse, Appleton and Owen devoted decades at the inception of the 20th century to the teaching of Latin by the Direct Method, conducting whole classes (ab initio) and publishing whole text books in Latin alone. they even founded a journal to defend their radical approach, much maligned as it was by the British Classical climate. the results were however always the same (pace docentium): it allowed the best students, who could learn Latin in whatever language it be taught to them, to thrive in the rich milieux of pervasive Latinity; those who would naturally struggle to learn Latin found themselves out of the depth with little hope of salvation.
thus all of this talk about matters of teaching Latin is, to me at any rate, a little perplexing. the Classical languages require one thing ineluctably and that is the strong will of the learner to acquire them. the resources are everywhere around us: textkit is the paramount online embodiment of this resource, and Episcopus its finest export. Latin has always been, and will continue to be (unless textbooks continue to dumb down its diversity and subtlety), open to all those who truly want to have it.
as for your rodomontades about your immersing yourself in learning Latin, i look forward eagerly to apprehending the fruits of such labour.

~D
Last edited by whiteoctave on Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby screamadelica » Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:44 pm

benissimus wrote:He's a new student, in a class, he's learning, but he asks for help and then gets recommended a new book? That is not what he asked for and not what he needed either, and I see this is as an abuse of the authority that comes with knowing more about a field than someone who is just starting.


Speaking as a beginner myself: I don't think that there's really anything wrong with "advertising" a new book to a new student. I looked at the thread and it was a one-line advertisement, yes, but I didn't even know that Lingua Latina existed until I read such an advertisement, and I'd bet that the poster didn't, either.

I don't think that there's anything wrong with a two-track approach or with studying from two books at once (giving priority to one or the other, of course). Multiple methods and styles of instruction help me a lot because they hit different areas and learning styles.

Homeric Greek is a two-in-one volume that pairs a sequential exercise book with a grammar. I've found it very helpful to read through much of the grammar before it's necessary (reading the entire phonology section before tackling the future/aorist chapter has helped greatly with apparently "irregular" verb forms) but the book is written so that the grammar is a reference for the exercises and not the other way around. Grammar is theory and exercises/readings are practice, and I lean strongly towards theory. If you learn best through practice, then readings and exercises are the way to go.

I'm not sure where Wheelock's falls on the continuum but I think having a grammar-at-the-expense-of-context book and a second book that piles on the reading at the expense of grammar in tandem would be the best way to do it and would stimulate anybody's particular learning style. Lingua Latina seems to be the second of these and seems to me a valuable book for any student of the language. Two unbalanced books would help me far more than one balanced book that gives insufficient grammar and insufficient readings/exercises.
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Postby nostos » Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:46 pm

whiteoctave wrote:that Hans seems Socratic to you sounds alarming to me, but i have learnt to embrace these quirks of your judgment. as to the originality of the great man's method, i think this can only be granted if one ignores the history of the subject. messrs Rouse, Appleton and Owen devoted decades at the inception of the 20th century to the teaching of Latin by the Direct Method


I am amazed at these words. The originality of any person's method for doing anything (untamed by the usual academic 'almosts' because I don't believe the opposite ever to be true) is always mediated by the flow of history, both at the personal and macro-levels.

At any rate, it is the method, if you do not want to grant the honour to the author (who is following the ranks of Rouse et al.), which indeed is maieutic in the broader sense of the word: it educes a natural language (almost from scratch and without the need for translation); the ability acquire the language, whichever it may be, is already there.
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Postby annis » Tue Dec 13, 2005 10:04 pm

nostos wrote: it educes a natural language (almost from scratch and without the need for translation); the ability acquire the language, whichever it may be, is already there.


This is not true, not for adults at any rate.

I intend to cover this at length in a few days (as part of the Saving Classics thread), but the simple point is that the ability to learn merely by exposure is there only if you're under about 4 years old. The head of a child is hugely over-full of brain. In the interest of metabolic conservation, at about 4 years of age there's a massive cell die-off in the brain. If you haven't picked up language at that point, your language abilities will be impared forever.

The adult learner of any language needs formal, grammatical instruction, not as an end in itself, of course, but as a gateway. Grammar makes learning a language easier for an adult. The best adult methods for learning a language rest on an intense pairing of grammatical and dialog work (memorize n' modify).
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Postby edonnelly » Tue Dec 13, 2005 11:31 pm

whiteoctave wrote:the Classical languages require one thing ineluctably and that is the strong will of the learner to acquire them.

That would be a necessary but not sufficient condition and is immaterial to the question at hand.

whiteoctave wrote:the resources are everywhere around us: textkit is the paramount online embodiment of this resource, and Episcopus its finest export.

The question is not about the quantity of resources but rather the quality. In addition, proof by example will not work here. Simply because someone was successful with one method does not mean that the given method was the only, or even most efficient, method that would have achieved the desired result.

The question is not does one method work and the other not. The real question relates to annis' post. I'm not sure I agree with all of his conclusions (but I haven't seen the evidence), but in any case, it addresses the correct question -- which method is superior. That is, given an adult learner with a certain will and aptitude, which method will most rapidly lead to the acquisition of various levels of skill in the subject language. I would very much like to see the studies in this area. (Personally, I do believe that a combination of the types of learning described here would, on the average, be the best, but that is my opinion.)

As far as the personal attacks on Lucus go, they seem wholly unjustified to me. The suggestion that his posts are "advertising" is not at all fair, and to suggest "abuse of authority" is even worse. He offers his opinion, freely, and without consideration of personal gain. The whole purpose of this forum is for learners to share their experiences and to try to help other learners. He may be more passionate than most here, but I certainly believe his motives are pure and absolutely consistent with the spirit of this forum. The fact that his opinion differs from one's own does not make it inappropriate for him to express it.
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library
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Postby nostos » Tue Dec 13, 2005 11:45 pm

annis wrote:
nostos wrote:the ability acquire the language, whichever it may be, is already there.


This is not true, not for adults at any rate.

I intend to cover this at length in a few days (as part of the Saving Classics thread), but the simple point is that the ability to learn merely by exposure is there only if you're under about 4 years old. The head of a child is hugely over-full of brain. In the interest of metabolic conservation, at about 4 years of age there's a massive cell die-off in the brain. If you haven't picked up language at that point, your language abilities will be impared forever.

The adult learner of any language needs formal, grammatical instruction, not as an end in itself, of course, but as a gateway. Grammar makes learning a language easier for an adult. The best adult methods for learning a language rest on an intense pairing of grammatical and dialog work (memorize n' modify).


If one has been exposed to language normally until the age of 4, then (generally, not for everyone) one has two sectors of the brain very near to each other which are devoted to decoding and producing language. If either of them gets damaged – stroke, for example – then one loses the ability to understand, express, or both, languages (technically, aphasia).

Conversely if one has the ability to perform and decode language (it has been formed normally throughout the initial 4 years of life), then the ability is there (hence, Socrates). To what extent that ability grows depends largely on how much it has been nourished, how much exposure one has to a language (native or no), how much one wants to actually modify one's own speech; the brain is plastic.

LL gives the grammar by repeated example to the adult brain; it has to give grammar, else it would not teach Latin. Then it gives the more salient grammatical terms their due explanation, by precise and repetitive example, at the end of each lesson. It expects the student will memorise all of this, and the modification from native (base) grammar, whether or not that native grammar is unconscious, is implicit. Episcopus has said that read enough, you stop translating. LL says, exactly.

It does not attempt to teach without grammar; no one can do that, the thought of that is absurd. It does teach, however, without another grammar interposing itself (with all necessary conversions) between the target language and the student (whether or not the student wants their native grammar explicitly in between is for each one to decide; no one's attempting to prevent this choice, and I am encouraging it).
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Postby annis » Wed Dec 14, 2005 4:24 am

nostos wrote:Conversely if one has the ability to perform and decode language (it has been formed normally throughout the initial 4 years of life), then the ability is there (hence, Socrates). To what extent that ability grows depends largely on how much it has been nourished, how much exposure one has to a language (native or no), how much one wants to actually modify one's own speech; the brain is plastic.


Post cell-death we cannot learn language the same way we did as a child. The equipment is gone. Simply having working results of the earlier equipment is not sufficient.

It does teach, however, without another grammar interposing itself (with all necessary conversions) between the target language and the student (whether or not the student wants their native grammar explicitly in between is for each one to decide; no one's attempting to prevent this choice, and I am encouraging it).


I haven't the first clue what you are trying to say here. Can you clarify this, please? What other grammar?
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Postby nostos » Wed Dec 14, 2005 8:48 pm

Here are the assumptions behind what I've said:

We have the genetic ability for language, as a species property, that other species on earth do not have. Our brains have a 'language organ' (as Chomsky puts it) to fulfil this property.

The language organ must develop (by about age 4). I think this is what you were arguing for (please clarify if I've got this wrong; I probably have, because you haven't explained it yet): that the brain must develop, and that if its developmental process is inhibited, you don't have all of the necessary equipment for the rest of your life. With this I agree.

Chomsky's 'initial state' theory runs: 'from the initial stages, the child knows vastly more than experience has provided. This is true even of simple words. At peak periods of language growth, a child is acquiring words at the rate of about one an hour, with extremely limited exposure under highly ambiguous conditions. They are understood in delicate and intricate ways that are far beyond the reach of any dictionary, and are only beginning to be investigated' etc. Let's take the crucial development of the initial state to be completed by about age 4 as a given.

Chomsky continues:

'We can think of the initial state of the faculty of language as a fixed network connected to a switch box; the network is constructed of the principles of language, while the switches are the options to be determined by experience. When the switches are set one way, we have Swahili; when they are set another way, we have Japanese. Each possible human language is identified as a particular setting of the switches – a setting of parameters, in technical terminology. If the research program succeeds, we should be able literally to deduce Swahili from one choice of settings, Japanese from another, and so on throughout the languages that humans can acquire. The empirical conditions of language acquisition require that the switches can be set on the basis of the very limited information that is available to the child. Notice that small changes in switch settings can lead to great apparent variety in output, as the effects proliferate throughout the system. These are the general properties of language that any genuine theory must capture somehow.' (my emphases).

What I am saying is that this biological species property, genetic and hence (again) Socratic, is universal. The language centres have to be developed, or completed, by about 4, agreed- let's call this the primary process of language development. Within this primary process are all of the necessities to learn any human language, and, of course inclusively, the specificities of the grammar of your native tongue (you might not agree with that in italics, in which case we butt heads! :)).

Once developed (once the switchboard has been set), the brain's language centres (or the expression of the genetic blueprint) continue to evolve in less radical a fashion. Let's call this the secondary process. The primary process of the initial state (development) must have been completed normally in order for the secondary process of plasticity to function properly. The 'language organ', after the primary process of development has occurred, has finished growing up; but it is still highly plastic in its secondary process, and all the modifications which are made to the language organ from age 4-5 and up are made to this plasticity. One can see how this secondary process is constantly occurring with different kinds of aphasia, which happen if different regions of the brain are damaged. The damage's effect on language production and recognition is rectified over time in aphasic patients, often completely. Language production and recognition is by no means rigid (as I have interpreted you to have said, without enough explanation so as to know how you mean this): the brain's highly plastic centres continue to evolve throughout life, more so if you will it, but always so, even if you do not.

annis wrote:I haven't the first clue what you are trying to say here. Can you clarify this, please? What other grammar?


When I said 'grammar', I was thinking of two things and conflating them indiscriminately: biological grammar (the grammar of the brain's 'language organ', formed but ready to apperceive new material) and linguistic grammar (e.g., Latin grammar, English grammar, Arabic grammar, etc).

This can readily be remedied if I adhere to 'language organ' when talking about the brain and 'grammar' when talking about languages.

Latin grammar is different only at the superficial level from English grammar, even though it may appear to be completely different (inflections as opposed to word order, etc). It is the fact that Latin and English are both natural languages which makes them, on a deeper level, the same beasts in different suits (o the mixed metaphor): both of them yield ultimately to the language organ (because they are both formed of the same 'stuff' in the formation of the language organ itself), and learning one of them later in life is just part of the secondary process. Once developed normally by approximately age 4, the primary process, the one which includes the basis for learning any language, gives way to the secondary process in which the highly plastic language organ is continuously moulded (modified) however you please.

nostos wrote:It does teach, however, without another grammar interposing itself (with all necessary conversions) between the target language and the student (whether or not the student wants their native grammar explicitly in between is for each one to decide; no one's attempting to prevent this choice, and I am encouraging it).


The other grammar is the native grammar of the speaker, making itself consciously there; when you learn via translation, you learn how to convert the grammar of the target language into your own language's grammar, and then understanding may take place (through the plastic language organ) because of this translation. Yet this, to me in my personal style of learning, is an artificial distinction; it removes understanding by one level (target language grammar - native language grammar - understanding, rather than target language grammar - understanding). Eventually even the grammar first method (with native language's grammar in between) is 'ironed-out' by the plastic brain (target language - understanding, without the native language in between; this is what I meant by Episcopus saying if read enough, you won't translate anymore).

By the direct method, the target grammar - native grammar - understanding (through the language organ) is bypassed - there is no 'ironing out' that needs to be done. Although you do not have a ready knowledge of immediate translation (which you would have with the grammar first method), you still have a 'feel' for the target language, which it takes much longer to get if the target language's grammar is being translated into your native language's grammar before being understood by the language organ.
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Postby annis » Thu Dec 15, 2005 1:40 pm

nostos wrote:Chomsky's 'initial state' theory runs:


Oh, dear. A Chomskyite. This may be an unbridgeable divide. I have no great respect for Chomsky's work. He tends to let theory run before data a little too often, in my opinion. I'm never going to employ a pedagogical methodology that relies on Chomsky's theories.

Several times in this thread you have used the word 'Socratic' in a way I don't understand. Do you mean by this Platonic (or Socratic) Memory? Do you see initial state theory as a sort of Platonic Remembering?

What I am saying is that this biological species property, genetic and hence (again) Socratic, is universal. The language centres have to be developed, or completed, by about 4, agreed- let's call this the primary process of language development. Within this primary process are all of the necessities to learn any human language, and, of course inclusively, the specificities of the grammar of your native tongue (you might not agree with that in italics, in which case we butt heads! :)).


ἔμοιγε δοκεῖ, as they say in Plato. I see nothing objectionable in this so far.


The primary process of the initial state (development) must have been completed normally in order for the secondary process of plasticity to function properly. The 'language organ', after the primary process of development has occurred, has finished growing up; but it is still highly plastic in its secondary process, and all the modifications which are made to the language organ from age 4-5 and up are made to this plasticity.


Again, so far so good. Another example is horrendously difficult languages like Cree and Fula. It takes native speakers until their early teens to master all the grammatical details.

When I said 'grammar', I was thinking of two things and conflating them indiscriminately: biological grammar (the grammar of the brain's 'language organ', formed but ready to apperceive new material) and linguistic grammar (e.g., Latin grammar, English grammar, Arabic grammar, etc).

This can readily be remedied if I adhere to 'language organ' when talking about the brain and 'grammar' when talking about languages.


Yet you're conflating two things here: the language organ (a notion with which I have no disagreement) with what you called 'biological grammar' above. I'm not prepared to make that last step.

By the direct method, the target grammar - native grammar - understanding (through the language organ) is bypassed - there is no 'ironing out' that needs to be done.


And this is the problem. There is no other grammar hiding under our native grammar! And this is trivial to show in everyday life. I can walk out of my office at work and chat with university faculty who have been speaking English longer than I have been alive. Yet it is immediately transparent that English is not his native language. He has been exposed constantly to English, for more than 30 years, so why has his universal grammar not flattened out some of his syntactic slips? Because there is no such thing. The only grammar we possess natively is that of our native tongue(s).

We can train our language organ to correctly produce another grammar - we both agree the brain is remarkably plastic - but this happens in reference to our native grammar, not some mystical biological Esperanto no one has ever seen.

This is why the language training for spies must be so very intensive. Relying on your innate grammar is precicely the strategy that is going to lead you into error in speaking other languages. Conscious, analytical - grammatical - work must be deployed to best direct the changes we want in our so flexible brains.


(Edit: a very important 'not' put where it belonged.)
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Postby nostos » Thu Dec 15, 2005 3:40 pm

annis wrote:Oh, dear. A Chomskyite.


I am no more Chomskian that anything else, annis. I believe in using whatever's salvageable to me in any theory I come across that seems interesting enough to keep my attention.

I'm not sure if I agree with the last part of your statement yet. It usually takes things a while to sink in before I can talk about them without speaking from the wrong orifice! :P I am not sure that we even disagree on this point, because I think I was hasty in saying 'biological grammar' and 'language organ' as the same thing - perhaps get rid of the biological grammar all together, because yes, I don't think there's a grammar beyond our grammar either. But I don't believe we must convert target language into our own to understand - this is amply shown by several examples of people learning other languages without any theory or expressed grammar at all, and becoming proficient in the language's own idioms and expressions (actually understanding what the abstract terms mean and being able to produce them too).

In reference to Socrates, I am making the assumption that everything we do is a priori (as I have learned the term - beware of philosophers, each using their terms however they see fit!): if the ability to do something is there (even if only potentially, in this case genetically, as I think we agree language is), then really all that's happening is eduction (W. James put it beautifully as everything functioning in terms of a lock and key, though he was talking about something else), even if you're learning something entirely new for the first time.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:29 pm

If you have to resort to Chomsky, you're badly in need for some more talking points. Here's this article by Luigi Miraglia: "How Latin is (not) taught." A teaser: "Students learn to translate in order to understand, instead of learning to understand in order to translate."

Lucus' copy:

http://www.vivariumnovum.it/micromega.htm

Nostos' copy:

http://www.aalg.org/miraglia.htm#_edn23

I couldn't find an English translation, sorry.
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Postby nostos » Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:45 pm

Bardo de Saldo wrote:If you have to resort to Chomsky, you're badly in need for some more talking points.


I had read this article a long while back, here. Why I didn't remember it, the gods only know - perhaps because in order to bring it here, I would have to translate the major points of all that is said :P
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Dec 17, 2005 12:03 am

If I were to start studying Latin today, I would want to get a) Latin : An Intensive Course and b) Lingua Latina. I would get the former to get the strong analytical background, and the latter to immerse myself. In my experience, I learn a language best by combining both approaches.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sat Dec 17, 2005 12:29 am

Grazie, Bardo!
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Postby bizzaroSquirrel » Sat Dec 24, 2005 12:59 am

After seeing the price of the first book (familia romana i think), I'm going to pick up a copy. Another yes vote from me.

w00p w00p w00p
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Postby Albert » Sat May 31, 2008 8:35 pm

bizzaroSquirrel wrote:After seeing the price of the first book (familia romana i think), I'm going to pick up a copy. Another yes vote from me.

w00p w00p w00p


I just received my copy yesterday! :D So, I voted yes.
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