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Using "The Art of Reading Latin"

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Using "The Art of Reading Latin"

Postby Timothy » Sun May 23, 2004 9:01 pm

I'm thinking about using the technique described in William Gardner Hale's lecture, "The Art of Reading Latin: How to Teach It" and I'm wondering how it might be done by those who are learning by self study.

As a quick summary of the technique (The article can be found in one of the links in the "Outside links of Interest" forum.): Hale proposes that students learn to read Latin as the Romans must have, word-by-word. Sentences are examined by uncovering the sentence one word at a time and categorizing the words (he used the phrase "anticipatory parsing") but without attempting to translate. Only when the sentence has been finsihed should the translation be completed. Hale claims the result of this method is that students are able to listen to and read Latin naturally after only two years study.

I find this a desireable goal and much of Hale's lecture gives promising and attractive results.

Has anyone here use (or is using) this or a similar technique before?
How was it done?
How effective was it?

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Postby Episcopus » Sun May 23, 2004 9:39 pm

That's really interesting! I would also love to know how I might do that, though I feel that I am partially there too. It's good to be able to read Tacitus as though it were English (unless there should be a word which I have not seen before, which often annoys me), but some of Cicero's seemingly unnatural complex extended sentences in Pro Caelio with 3 verbs at the end are hard for foreigners to read naturally.

And what about Verse? Can you really hear Virgil and understand it as a Roman adult might have (I doubt children could have) ?

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Postby Timothy » Mon May 24, 2004 12:31 am

Episcopus wrote:That's really interesting! I would also love to know how I might do that, though I feel that I am partially there too.


(I strongly recommend the article. If nothing else it's an interesting lecture.)

I think there are two parts to the method:

1. Read and pronounce each word without seeing the rest of the sentence. You do this by covering the sentence and then uncovering each word in sequence.

2. As words are uncovered, by a series of questions, explain how the word may fit into the sentence but do not translate the word. If you know the word, the English (or whatever your native language) will remain in your mind. If you don't know the word you may look it up (IMO, a good habit to develop) and note the form of the word.

Also, pronounce each word as you uncover it, then the sentence up to that word.

Episcopus wrote:It's good to be able to read Tacitus as though it were English (unless there should be a word which I have not seen before, which often annoys me), but some of Cicero's seemingly unnatural complex extended sentences in Pro Caelio with 3 verbs at the end are hard for foreigners to read naturally.


In terms of Latin, we're all foreigners. :lol: I've been listening to the German web site that has the news in Latin. With my American ear, I can't hear the German accent. All I hear is Latin. (Might as well be German, but that's what I'm trying to correct. :wink: )

Episcopus wrote:And what about Verse? Can you really hear Virgil and understand it as a Roman adult might have (I doubt children could have) ?


As far as I can tell, verse or prose makes no difference. I got a copy of an Aeneid reading by another German and while I can sort of sense that the meter and rhythms are different, I still can't see that they would prevent me from understanding the verse. But I don't know enough about verse to really say.

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Postby chad » Mon May 24, 2004 1:19 am

hi, it's easy to follow this method using perseus. open up any text, and click each word you don't know in a sentence (at the start, it will almost be every word). at the end of a sentence, check the idea you've formed of the whole sentence by flicking to "english".

if you're way off, that's good, your subconscious will pick up the proper construction and, after a while, you'll feel comfortable with the classical construction. often you'll need to go off and do a bit of research to figure out how the translators got what they got... e.g. "how did they get 'having said these things,' from 2 ablative/genitive words?". and u find the answer, and next time you'll remember it.

and if you're not way off, then you're connecting with the original text.

perseus makes it easier for people who haven't had years of study to follow the method in that essay.
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Postby Timothy » Mon May 24, 2004 2:12 am

chad wrote:<snip>

perseus makes it easier for people who haven't had years of study to follow the method in that essay.


Really good idea. 8) Perseus really is a great tool and this sounds like a perfect way to use the method. While they may not have every text (yet), by the time you are through Cicero, Livy, et cetera you will no longer need it.

Still...I like books. :)

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Postby Timothy » Mon May 24, 2004 1:46 pm

After thinking about the idea of using Perseus for Hale's method I've come up with a concern: How can you cover the sentence(s) on Perseus?

Hale specifically warns against reading any other part of the sentence before you have finished with the current word. This is the reason for the "block" of the sentence. What you are supposed to do is train your mind to analyse the word quickly and build vocabulary at the same time.

I do think that once you have the process down so that you can use it from a text, you can progress to using Perseus. It strikes me that you will know when you've reached that point because the sentence will "click" in you mind when you reach the last word.

Vocabulary building is a subjective process, IMO. So long as you are really learning new words so that you come to recognize them on next sighting, all is well. Perseus makes it easy to find a word but for some reason I find it important to know how to look up a word in a dictionary. Recently I got tripped up because I misread how a word is presented in the dictionary.

AFAIK, Perseus doesn't help with pronunciation.

Don't misunderstand me; I'm not dismissing Perseus. But I do think it's better to use the method Hale outlines in the beginning. It sounds like it takes a while to get the right questions to ask and build up speed in the comprehension. But once you are there I think Perseus will gain in value. From what he describes this sounds like it takes a few months of practice. Slow progress early but building rapidly towards the end.

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Postby ingrid70 » Mon May 24, 2004 7:24 pm

You can use Hale's technique from the beginning with the continuous texts in BLD and other beginner's textbooks. That way the options are still limited, but you get used to the technique. And you don't have to 'relearn' Latin by the time you get to real texts.

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