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Composition Exercises: How to?

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Composition Exercises: How to?

Postby Iacobus de Indianius » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:18 pm

I cracked open a copy of Bradley's Arnold last night, read through the introductory sections, and then came to the first exercise, which is just a group of English sentences.

As I read through the English, I realized that I know very few of the Latin equivalents. And even when I do track down the right words, I'm not sure that the sentence composition I come up with will use the preferred constructions. My questions, then, are two.

1. Do I need to improve my vocabulary to the point where I know many or most of the Latin equivalents before I can begin a composition book?

2. If not, how do I go about finding the right words? The serious dictionaries are only Latin-English, not the reverse. I have a copy of Cassell's. Should I start there, find the word, and then go to L&S?

I suppose this seems rather daunting to do alone. Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you.
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Re: Composition Exercises: How to?

Postby adrianus » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:42 pm

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: Composition Exercises: How to?

Postby Qimmik » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:20 pm

You can use one of the English-Latin dictionaries, or some other vocabulary, to find a Latin equivalent of an English word, but unless the Latin word you find turns out to be one with which you are very familiar, you should get in the habit of looking up the Latin word in Lewis and Short (or the Oxford Latin Dictionary if you have access) to make sure that the Latin meaning is the same as the English meaning you're searching for and that you're using the word in question properly. For example, you need to make sure you're putting any noun complements of a verb in the right case, using the right prepositions, not using an intransitive verb transitively, not using an exclusively poetic word (or not using a word in a poetic meaning) in writing prose, making sure that the word is used in the Classical period, not in the archaic period or late antiquity, etc.

Don't use a less authoritative Latin-English dictionary like Cassell's for this purpose. You need one with actual citations to specific passages.

Lewis and Short is on line:

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/Reference/lewisandshort.html

You should go through this exercise when trying to write any language in which you're not a native speaker, or at least very fluent, including modern languages. It's all too easy to go astray and write something completely ridiculous if you're not careful.
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Re: Composition Exercises: How to?

Postby Iacobus de Indianius » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:10 pm

Thanks for the clavis adrianus, this will come in handy.

Qimmik - thanks for explaining. Sorry for not clarifying, but I meant Lewis and Short when I typed L&S. So, I'll track down the right word in Cassell's Latin-English section and then will refer to the entry for the Latin word in Lewis and Short (I use Perseus too) for guidance and citations.

I can't wait to give this a try tonight.
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Re: Composition Exercises: How to?

Postby adrianus » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:39 am

You can use Ainsworth's dictionary for English to Latin, Iacobus. The English is somewhat archaic but it was the standard one in the nineteenth century and just before for English speakers.
Ad vertendum in sermones latinos, Iacobe, illo dictionario utere de Ainsworth, cuius modus anglicè sonandi antiquior, at celebratum hoc dictionarium inter eos anglicè loquentes saeculo undevicenso et decadibus praecedentibus.

http://archive.org/details/robertainsworths00ains vel editiones noviores alibi
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: Composition Exercises: How to?

Postby adrianus » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:13 am

Also don't forget the obvious, Iacobe. Use the word list at the back of the book for general vocabulary. The author put it there to help, since the book is written for those who have already been studying latin for a few years but who won't have L&S, just Cassell's (in the days before the internet!):
Bradley's Arnold, Appendix, x, wrote:"Beware of the English-Latin dictionary...the General Vocabulary at the end of this book does not profess to do more than recall to mind words which may be useful in the Exercises for which it was compiled...If, in an emergency, you have recourse to any such aid, the information offered should at once be checked in the best Latin-English dictionary available; and no effort should be spared to reduce those emergencies to a minimum."

Et rem manifestam memoriâ tene. Vocabulario verborum in parte libri ultimâ utere. Auctor vocabularium generale auxilium paravit, quod destinatus hic liber eis qui linguam jam nonnullos annos discunt at dictionarium de L&S non possident (in diebus ante tempus interretis).
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: Composition Exercises: How to?

Postby Iacobus de Indianius » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:32 pm

[quote="adrianus"]Also don't forget the obvious, Iacobe. Use the word list at the back of the book for general vocabulary. The author put it there to help, since the book is written for those who have already been studying latin for a few years but who won't have L&S, just Cassell's (in the days before the internet!):

Thanks adrianus. I didn't even think to look in the back.
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