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Advice for the Intermediate learner

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Advice for the Intermediate learner

Postby anon.edward.mouse » Fri May 11, 2012 4:48 am

Hello all,

First some background: I've finished Wheelock (including appendixes and all!), have gotten some of the way through Wheelock's Intermediate Latin Reader, and have begun Moreland and Fleischer to make my foundation even stronger. I've been studying Latin for 1.5 years.

My goal is to one day read Latin as easily as I read English.

How do you recommend I proceed?

Basically, what I do now is read, trying to translate in my head. When I cannot do this, I get out my pen to scribble a translation and then check to see if this is a correct translation. Any vocab that gives me trouble goes in the Mnemosyne rotation. Seems a bit cut and dry, but is this as good a method as any? I don't want to get too hung up on an artificial way of reading (i.e., translating with a pen and paper instead of reading)

At the moment the following sentence for Caesar is about is tough a sentence as I can manage in my head without resorting to the need for a pen: "Itaque Titum Labienum legatum in Treveros, qui proximi flumini Rheno sunt, cum equitatu mittit."

Any harder (or longer) and I reach for a pencil and begin the more artificial process of decoding the sentence. 99 times out of a 100 I can successfully "decode" the sentence this way, but, obviously, it's not ideal, and I'm wary about using this as too much of a crutch.

Two corollary questions:

(1) Should I invest in a Vulgate Bible as a baby step to Caesar? I've heard that's much easier than even Caesar's relatively cut and dry classical Latin, which, as you see is giving me some trouble.

(2) When should I begin working with ancient Greek, since my goal is to one day have both languages. I don't want to dive in just yet, because I believe it's probably wise to be rather strong in Latin before spreading myself too thin.

Thank you. I've lurked on this forum for a long time. It's worth saying, more than one question has been answered by you all.
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Re: Advice for the Intermediate learner

Postby cb » Fri May 11, 2012 2:46 pm

hi, i think that the best way to get used to reading caesar well is to keep going with caesar rather than to read another author (even if objectively easier). authors get easier to read the more pages you get through.

personally i recommend never to translate out of the classical language into another. this for me is not an exercise in the classical language but in the other. i think i've translated a total of the first 5 lines of the iliad into english about 10 years ago before realising it was a mistake and since then have never done it for grk, and for latin i never have - i used to think "a line translated is a line lost", and it took a long time before i got those 5 lines back purely into grk in my head, through reading lots of grk scholia. translation into the classical language is fine though. the best is to stay in the language. i make my latin notes in latin and similarly for grk. feel free to ignore that advice though because i don't know anyone else who takes this approach, and you will see others read classics very well, so there are many routes to reading well.

you could try starting with grk and see how it goes. normally people say "get recent textbooks on grk because the old ones assume you know latin" - because you actually do though, the old textbooks could interest you, because in reading them you'll be studying both languages at once. they often say e.g. in indirect discourse you don't use the subjunctive in the same way as in latin - and then when they give the grk and latin examples to show the difference, you realise you're consolidating your knowledge of both classical languages at the same time.

cheers, chad :)
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Re: Advice for the Intermediate learner

Postby Gregarius » Sat May 12, 2012 5:36 pm

This a hard place to grow from. I think our reading skills are like muscles that need to be exercised at progressively harder levels in order to grow. Too often with Latin, many try to make a great leap after finishing first-year texts to immediately reading Virgil and other difficult authors. If the Vulgate is easy for you to read, you won't be growing your ability to read more difficult texts. I don't know which Caesar text you are reading from, but there are many, many Caesar readers out there that provide a helping hand, some out-of-print, and available for free from Google books.

There are also some gems in "Six Weeks' preparation for Caesar", another out-of-print book available for free on the internet. I particularly like the list of Latin idioms the author encourages the student to memorize, not just because they are idioms, but because they are idiomatic Latin patterns which can be applied to all kinds of sentences and phrases, and train your mind to thinking in the Latin word order, and with Latin constructions that have no good one-to-one English translation.

William Gardner Hales "The Art of Reading Latin" is another inspirational free read you can find on the Internet, and I highly recommend it.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
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Re: Advice for the Intermediate learner

Postby Quin Firefrorefiddle » Sat May 12, 2012 11:38 pm

You know, Orberg has lots of readers for students at your level- one of which is Caesar. I've posted the list of Lingua Latina resources in this forum, you should be able to find it on my list of posts (I'd look it up, but I'm about to sign off). Orberg sounds like the kind of thing that would be very useful to you- lots of vocab and grammar notes in the margins but designed to be read straight through.
Pax vobiscum!
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Re: Advice for the Intermediate learner

Postby timeodanaos » Sun May 13, 2012 2:38 pm

Go and read Eutropius' Breviarium historiae Romanae (or whatever people call his work). Caesar is good too, but with Eutropius, you'll have about 80 pages worth of Latin written around 370CE that will help you get used to reading larger amounts of text. I think that's one good approach, to get as much text under your skin, even if that text isn't at a very high level of difficulty. Supply with 'classical' writers though; Caesar is fine, but Cicero is the one you should really read. Summa elegantia!
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Re: Advice for the Intermediate learner

Postby anon.edward.mouse » Mon May 14, 2012 1:01 am

Wow, you guys have really given me some great advice. That's why textkit is one of a kind.

I suppose that I will look into the lingua latina series. Perhaps I'll even go through it from the beginning as I'm doing with M&F: I find that I'm picking up on new variations of things as I go through M&F after having done Wheelock.

While I appreciate the recommendation to read Cicero, at the moment, I feel myself just a little stretched by him, far more than Caesar... Although I am sensitive to the charge that learning does quite literally stretch you beyond your comfort zone.

I checked out the Vulgate from online. It was very easy. I don't think a single construction through me. I may use it just to have something easier to have in Latin. Perhaps I'll begin reading Eutropius, while continuing with M&F. Once I'm done with Eutropius, I'll see how Caesar works.

I can't wait to learn a bit more! There's nothing more exciting than getting through a Roman sentence and thinking, "I understood that!"
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