Nice to hear youâ€™re following the Assimil course as a kind of virtual stowaway. Youâ€™ll be glad to hear itâ€™s the Christmas break right now (start again Jan 10, 2008, with Ch. 22, then one chapter every third day).
Perhaps this is a good opportunity for me to listen to more Metrodorus/Adler. Though I must get myself an mp3 player to store it on perhaps. As it is, my standard inside jacket-pocket companion is Mortonâ€™s Legends of Gods and Heroes (best Latin reader ever, from 1912). By the way, can I convert cassette recordings to digital format?
As an autodidact, I think parallel translations are unbeatable: they let us intuit how the target language works and build up a vocab without agonies of total bafflement.
As for writing/speaking Latin, Iâ€™m still stuck in my shell of silent shame â€“ ridiculously enough. I try to personalize texbook sentences by creating my own variations. But externalizing what goes in is harder. People like yourself â€˜who have crossed overâ€™ are a constant inspiration. How did you start out? By writing the odd paragraph on a special topic or picture? By producing sentences out of the blue in your bath tub?
Your "Circulus Latinus" idea is great. San Diego is a good place for Latin. Last time I was there I picked up some excellent old Latin textbooks in a second-hand bookshop...
I liked the black-and-white edition of the Oxford course before the full-colour make-over agents got their hands on it. Horace was virtually ousted out of Book 1, whereas the original Book 1 finished with H. leaving Italy for Greece and the poignant picture caption: â€œnec patrem nec matrem nec sororem Quintus umquam postea visurus eratâ€. Taught me a lot about the future participle. A more general criticism is that the authors could have integrated more of Hâ€™s â€˜easierâ€™ poems into the story. Vides ut alta, Ne quaesieris, and Quis multa gracilis would have been better than Fons bandusiae and O saepe mecum.
Iâ€™ve noticed over the years that very few revisions lead to improvements. And Iâ€™m not just thinking of Latin textbooks. I wonder if there is a Latin saying something like â€˜improvement is not always for the betterâ€™ or â€˜second thoughts are dead thoughtsâ€™. Funnily enough, I see that one of Laura Gibbsâ€™ proverbs today says the opposite: Sapit qui reputat (wise is the man who thinks twice)!
I applaud your 7-month plan of study. Your mention of Grex Latine Loquentium reminds me that I must check it out more often. I like its links to other texts. Internet territory is a wow. Yesterday I found myself reading Newmanâ€™s Rebilius Cruso (it has an interesting introduction too) as well as Latin translations of well-known poems by Goethe and Heine. Also, two small Latin crime-story books arrived from Germany (part of a â€˜SchÃ¼ler-Lernkrimiâ€™ series Iâ€™d ordered on the Net). Newly-written tales for kids about forgers and arsonists but good for recycling vocab and structures. (Thatâ€™s the beauty of Europe: each country has its own subset of Latin enthusiasts churning out new materials).
Now I must do a bit of Attic Greek.