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Beginning Latin by the Dowling Method

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Beginning Latin by the Dowling Method

Postby Stagger » Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:57 am

I've decided to start learning by the Dowling Method and already have Lingua Latina and the collins dictionary/grammar. I have a simple question before I really get into this.

I'm supposed to memorize all the paradigms and write each out 200 times, but looking at everything in the grammar section of the book I'm not sure exactly which ones. All the Dowling site specifically mentions is nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and doesn't really go into any more detail. Looking in the grammar I see the basic noun declensions, the adjective declensions, comparative and superlative forms of adjectives, adverbs, pronouns (reflexive, relative, determinative, demonstrative, interrogative, personal, possessive), and all the different types of verbs including unique and defective.

At the very beginning of the book there's a separate section called "quick reference grammar" with the noun decensions, verb conjugations (all tenses, moods, and voices), and then 2 short sections, "verbal nouns and adjectives" and "irregular verbs."

I want to start, and the first thing will be the noun declensions which obviously I'll have to learn regardless, but as far as the rest of it goes I want to know exactly what I should be trying to memorize at this point without getting in over my head. Some of this stuff seems too advanced to be memorizing before I even begin reading an actual Latin textbook, as the method suggests. Thanks.
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Re: Beginning Latin by the Dowling Method

Postby vastor » Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:36 pm

I can't comment on the Dowling Method, but if you are like me and are studying autodidactically, then I heartedly recommend Dooge's Latin For Beginners, for it lays the foundations for grammatical concepts that can be applied across the whole spectrum of languages. Dooge's book assumes the reader has no grammatical training and thus was ideally suited to my needs. If you already understand all the principles such as voice, mood, tense, conjugation, declension, pronouns, clauses, subject, object, copula, valency, latin sentence structure etc, then you can probably go ahead and internalise the various tables. Otherwise you probably need a grounding in the basics.

I'm currently reading Lingua Latina myself, and while it's a good book, it explains very little in respect of grammatical concepts, but instead directs the reader to the correct grammaticality of written latin. Having completed Dooge's book previously, reading Lingua Latina is quite straightforward and leaves no equivocality for me, but I would have been utterly perplexed by it had I not studied a formal grammar beforehand.
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Re: Beginning Latin by the Dowling Method

Postby spiphany » Tue Jan 06, 2009 2:35 pm

I agree with Vastor that memorizing paradigms without understanding the meaning of what you're memorizing doesn't make much sense. There is a place for memorization, but it should be after you've had a bit of basic grammar, I would think.

Most Latin texts start with the first and second (or -a and -o declension) of nouns/adjectives and the present & imperfect tense, first conjugation for verbs. If you're inclined to memorize anything, this is where I would start. Then maybe the personal/possessive pronouns.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Beginning Latin by the Dowling Method

Postby thesaurus » Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:03 pm

For now the quick reference grammar sounds sufficient. However, I would add the basic relative pronouns because they appear everywhere.

Code: Select all
         M      F       N
Nom. qui     quae    quod
Gen. cuius   cuius   cuius
Dat. cui       cui      cui
Acc. quem   quam  quod
Abl. quo      qua     quo

Nom. qui         quae     quae
Gen. quorum   quarum quorum
Dat. quibus     quibus  quibus
Acc. quos        quas     quae
Abl. quibus     quibus  quibus

Want to learn the interrogative pronouns, too? Well, now all you need to know is that the Masculine Singular 'qui' changes to 'quis', and in the accusative neuter singular you use 'quid' instead of 'quod'!

Avoid the early pitfall of trying to memorize everything with equal emphasis. The full noun declensions and verb conjugations are by far the most important. Stuff like different kinds of adjectives are easy and much less important. Besides, the exceptions are often only slightly different and you'll be able to quickly integrate them into your understanding once you know the basics. I don't know what the frequency chart would look like, but you won't be using even all the declensions or conjugations with equal frequency. Most verbs will be indicative, most nouns will be the first three declensions, and you'll deal with a fairly regular set of constructions. Think of English: you don't run through the entire grammatical gamut every time you write or speak, but use a basic and repeated set of grammar and vocabulary. How often does one use the subjunctive imperfect passive second person plural (laudo-> laudaremini)? Rarely.

For example, if you've figured out your noun declensions, then you've covered most adjectives, which decline in the exact same ways. You'll encounter adjectives with one ('ferox') and two-endings ('subtilis'). But if you've learned your declensions, then these show only minor differences (often in the nominative) that you'll figure out without having to memorize (e.g. write out 200 times) a separate declension.

A language like Latin appears incredibly intimidating when you're starting out because there seem to be thousands of disconnected and arbitrary facts that you have to simultaneously keep in your head. In reality, there is a core set of basic structures and processes (a sort of grammatical skeleton) that organize the whole language. You'll find that the more you learn, the easier it will become. The beginning is by far the hardest, and the rest is details. Once you've cleared the "quick reference grammar" you'll be able to advance with leaps and bounds.

I'd think of the memorization as a supplement to Lingua Latina, and not the other way around. It'll give you a background for the grammar you're seeing in LL, but you won't really understand it until you've done it in context.

Also, if you find that you can't stomach all the memorization, take a break and just read LL without thinking about the grammar.
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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