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progress report offered for comment

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progress report offered for comment

Postby hlawson38 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:35 pm

By October 2012, it will be three years since I started working on Latin. I didn't recall much from two years of Latin in high school fifty years earlier.

It's still hard to make out Latin sentences without reading a translation. I'd guess that most sentences in Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, baffle me until I have read the Loeb translation of DRN.

That seems discouraging, but on the other hand there is this: after reading the English translation, I can nearly always make out the grammar of the Latin sentence. Besides this, I can make a comparison with my French-reading project of some years ago. I can now read literary authors in French for pleasure, but I had read all 3000 pages of Proust, twice, and some other authors as well, to reach this point. So until I've read 3000 pages of Latin, I'm not going to get discouraged.

So, why is Lucretius so hard for me? Here is my explanation. First, he is a literary author. Literary authors (like Proust) are harder than formula-fiction authors (like Simenon). Secondly, poetry is usually harder than prose, due to figurative language, poetic license, and so on. Thirdly, DRN is an exposition in verse of a theory, but the theory is new to me.

Although the continuing difficulty is sometimes discouraging, at the same time there is this satisfaction: even after admitting defeat and reading the English translation, there is satisfaction from seeing how the translator must have produced the English sentence from the Latin original. That keeps me going from one day to the next.
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Re: progress report offered for comment

Postby adrianus » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:03 pm

It seems you're making progress and gaining a lot. I've been plunking away longer and it's still hard but fun.
Ut mihi videtur, proficis et proest id quod facis. Conatu qui non levat diutiùs laboro; manet autem voluptas vera quam ex eo capio.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: progress report offered for comment

Postby thesaurus » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:11 pm

Is there a particular reason you're committed to De Rerum Natura? As you suggest, it's a bit outside of the ordinary when it comes to its subject matter/form, so that could make it a bit harder to understand. I find that it's hard to understand philosophical concepts in another language.

I'd spend some time with Caesar/Cicero or some other favorite author and see how difficult those texts are for a while.
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: progress report offered for comment

Postby hlawson38 » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:24 pm

Thank you for the reply, Thesaurus.

I have been through Caesar once, then through Cicero's Catilinian orations, and I have worked my way through the Aeneid. I've also worked my way through Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and I've done some of Augustine's Confessions.

Reading _The Swerve_, by Stephen Greenblatt, influenced my choice of Lucretius as next author.

I'm never sure whether my way is better: I read one sentence after another, and just keep plowing straight ahead. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to read a selection (say a book of the Aeneid or of DRN) over and over continuously until it seems easy.

I don't do much memory work on vocabulary. I just look words up, as needed.
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