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The Sins of Lafleur

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The Sins of Lafleur

Postby Merus Ipse » Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:00 am

Hello all,

I just completed my introductory Latin courses a few weeks ago, having used Wheelock.

My teacher was of the opinion (he converted me) that Richard Lafleur, the revising editor, has quite ungracefully botched up the original textbook as designed by Frederic Wheelock. He has taught from the book for ~30 years, and he himself was a disciple of Wheelock, as he learned Latin from one of the earlier editions of the book in the 60's. So he is quite familiar with the revisions and changes made to the book over the years.

Perhaps you have noticed when translating some of the "practice and review," that a sentence here or there sounds bizarre, out of place, unwieldy, or just awful? I noticed also, and our teacher would always gloss such a sentence over by claiming it was "done by Lafleur." About halfway through the school year I started calling these putative interpolations, "Laflourishes." I shared this with the instructor and he seemed to get a kick out of it.

So now that I have some time, I was able to check out a 3rd edition Wheelock from the library, published 1963. I was indeed able to verify that the silly sentences could not be found!

Some examples of "Laflourishes":

P.R. 14 #9 That animal fell there yesterday and dragged itself across the ground from the field.

P.R. 16 #11 In the sky, there are many clouds and the farmer's animals are not well on account of the bad storm.

P.R. 38 #3 That hasty editor, without delay, inserted seven ludicrous sentences into the middle of the little book which belonged to this girl awaiting two kisses. [just kidding on this last one-made you second guess, it could fit.]

If there is enough interest I will share with you all Lafleur's fatal coup de grace.
Merus Ipse
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Postby Mayoi » Sun Jul 06, 2008 7:26 pm

Yes, please do!

I'm going through Wheelock with the Latin Study Equites group and truly dislike the PR and SA sections. The Latin books I used in HS and college were also grammar based, but I don't remember struggling with the kind of sentences that Wheelock presents.

I've looked at a lot of beginning Latin textbooks and don't remember a single one that used such silly or needlessly complex sentences. While I respect Dr. LaFleur, I'm rather disappointed with Wheelock.

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Postby dlb » Sun Jul 20, 2008 7:24 pm

If I understand what I have read on this forum concerning the various approaches the different authors take in order to teach Latin, I belive that I have read that Wheelock's approach is to emphasize grammar. Now, in a macabre sort of way, I feel more challenged by the 'silly sentences' than by those that are straight up translations. I tend to figure out the latter & jump ahead of myself whereas w/ the former I know not what to expect.
There may be ulterior motives by the editor but I would be hard pressed to force that issue.
Deus me ducet, non ratio.
Observito Quam Educatio Melius Est.
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Re: The Sins of Lafleur

Postby redmh24 » Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:15 am

LOL. I go to the University of GA, and he was my professor last semester. I'm new to Latin. He was all over the place, jumped around, and it was difficult to follow. I'm in my second semester, luckily I have a teacher that is willing to break down everything and spend a decent amount of time on one grammar subject.
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Re: The Sins of Lafleur

Postby ptolemyauletes » Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:10 am

Let's not be too harsh on Professor Lafleur. The main limitation to creating sensible and non-ludicrous sentences in Wheelock is the vocabulary. I mean how many variations can you make about giving a rose to a girl? This is not to take the piss. Vocabulary is a real limit on sentences, and, especially in the first part of the book, vocabulary is quite limited. Focus on the grammar for now, and let the REAL Latin make sense later.
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Re: The Sins of Lafleur

Postby cn.caelius » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:51 pm

We are using Wheelock's in my Latin classes at a local community college. We did chapters 1 through 20 in the first semester, and are trying to finish the book in the second semester.

Having learned previous languages in the past (both formally in school and autodidactically), I think Wheelock's has many problems. I believe, though, that many of those problems stem from the idea that, "Latin is to translate Cicero into English; it is not something to use". I vehemently disagree with this idea. A language exists to be used for communication. Sure, Cicero communicates with us across millennia with his written words, but that can't be all. Languages must be spoken. For this reason, I bought "Familia Romana" and listen to things like Nuntii Latini and the Latinum podcast. I do know some Latin speakers, and occasionally try what I know on them; their gentle corrections are a great help. Latin must be used, not just translated.

Also, Wheelock's seems to have skewed priorities with regards to grammar, in my personal opinion; its organization and order could be much improved, I believe. Many in my class are lost or behind; I'm only doing well because I have previous applicable experience and study Latin on my own for my personal enjoyment. :-) Based on what I know about language pedagogy, Latin, and Wheelock's, were I teaching a class, I would probably not use this textbook.
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Re: The Sins of Lafleur

Postby scottS » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:39 am

cn.caelius Thank you for the links to Nuntii Latini and the Latinum podcast. I love hearing Latin and my goal is spoken fluency. These will be great resources!

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