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Maintaining your Latin?

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Maintaining your Latin?

Postby thesaurus » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:09 pm

For those of you who do not study Latin formally, or who don't have a lot of free time to devote to reading/study, how do you keep yourself sharp?

My years of having Latin classes aren't behind me now, and fortunately I've learned to read Latin with some proficiency and comfort. However, I worry that it'll atrophy as I get caught up in every day life. I find that I'll have periods where I read quite a bit of Latin, but then I might not come back to it for several months.

The impetus for my question is that I'm joining the Peace Corps, so I'll be working in the Dominican Republic for the next 2+ years, most likely in a small rural community. I'm excited at the prospect of becoming fluent in Spanish, but I don't suspect that I'll have much time or resources to spend on Latin.

Of course, if I didn't read a lick of Latin for two years, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but it's gotten me thinking about how/when Latin fits into my life as a "normal" adult. I realize that many people here are students and academics who have more pressing reasons to keep up with their studies, but there are also many who have left school or taken up their studies independently.

I'm thinking of taking one Latin book with me to read on occasion. Any suggestions? If I bring a computer/kindle, I'll have a lot more options, but because my access to regular electricity is unknown, I'm not counting on it.

A secondary question because I'm curious: has anyone learned Latin, gone a long time without using it, and then came back to it? How did it go?
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: Maintaining your Latin?

Postby dlb » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:05 pm

thesaurus wrote:The impetus for my question is that I'm joining the Peace Corps, so I'll be working in the Dominican Republic for the next 2+ years, most likely in a small rural community. I'm excited at the prospect of becoming fluent in Spanish, but I don't suspect that I'll have much time or resources to spend on Latin.


Maybe now I will have a chance to equal or better your number of posts to this forum :P
Deus me ducet, non ratio.
Observito Quam Educatio Melius Est.
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Re: Maintaining your Latin?

Postby Bedell » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:43 am

Sorry I don't have an answer to your question, but good luck with your endeavours. You'll be missed around here! :(
nothing should arouse more suspicion than a cross-party consensus - Antidemocritus fl. 2010
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Re: Maintaining your Latin?

Postby Nesrad » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:06 pm

thesaurus wrote:I'm thinking of taking one Latin book with me to read on occasion. Any suggestions? If I bring a computer/kindle, I'll have a lot more options, but because my access to regular electricity is unknown, I'm not counting on it.

A secondary question because I'm curious: has anyone learned Latin, gone a long time without using it, and then came back to it? How did it go?


To paraphrase you in another thread, if you take pleasure in reading Latin, there should be no worries. I've never had any problem "maintaining" my Latin; on the contrary, it has improved a lot over the years, for the simple reason that I enjoy reading in Latin. I couldn't say the same for Greek because it's just too hard to enjoy, so my self-taught Greek has withered and all but died.

An ereader will work nicely. If you don't have one yet, I would suggest an Android-based reader like the Sony PRS-T1 because if you root it, it's more customizable than the Kindle. I converted the entire corpus of classical authors from the Packard Humanities Institute into text format (pm me if you want it). It's far better quality than anything you can get on the Internet. I also get various non classical authors from Google/Gallica/Europeana/Archive.org in pdf that I read using Android-based software called Ebookdroid, which is the best available software for reading pdfs on smaller screens. And you can get the Little Lewis as a free dictionary (still looking for the larger Lewis and Short in stardict format, but the Little Lewis is usually more than sufficient). I often bring my ereader to my cabin in the woods where I recharge using a small SLA battery hooked up to a solar panel.

Just one book? Not even a dictionary too? What a terrible question to ask. If I had to choose just one book for two years, I would have a few sleepless nights deciding which one and would almost certainly regret my choice later on. Of course it would be something I haven't read yet, possibly something from Cicero's philosophical works, maybe a compilation of some kind where you can get a lot into one book. Or maybe Vergil, since you can get all of his works in a single volume. In any case, I would have to pack the Little Lewis dictionary also.

If you can bring several books, I suggest concentrating on the volumes from the Bibliotheca Oxoniensis because they cover the major authors and are available used for cheap, about $15-20 per volume through Abebooks, usually imported from England. Be sure to ask the seller about the book condition if you aren't sure. I have built a nice little library this way that I could fit in a Rubbermaid tub if I were to move frequently.

For your secondary question, yes I have spent several years without using Latin. I was not as advanced as you are, so there wasn't as much to lose. It wasn't very hard to get back up to speed.
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Re: Maintaining your Latin?

Postby Nesrad » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:15 pm

About reading Latin as a "normal" adult as opposed to a student, it's actually quite liberating to be able to choose what, how much, and when you would like to read. You're worried about not getting yourself motivated enough to read dry and boring Latin. The key is to find something interesting. I personally really enjoy the historians because I learn a lot. Also, if you go beyond the classics there's such a large variety available that it's impossible to not find something interesting.
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