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Is It Possible to Study Latin Comp By Oneself?

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Is It Possible to Study Latin Comp By Oneself?

Postby Scribo » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:46 pm

I'm a Classicist, but due to module limitations I haven't taken any formal composition - outside of the few sentences we do per session. Anyway I really feel the lack, I think my Latin would be much better (would also love a larger ACTIVE vocabulary) and I really am quite jealous of the way Adrianus seems to be able to express himself rather well. Basically would this make accessing the ancients even easier?

How would I without an answer key? How would I know specifically where I'm going wrong etc? Can I do it without devoting a ridiculous amount of time to it each day also?
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Re: Is It Possible to Study Latin Comp By Oneself?

Postby Markos » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:07 pm

I don't see why it would not be. My argument is that you don't really need other people to "correct" your Latin as long as you do lots of reading at the same time you are using the language. You will notice your own mistakes, not all of them, but enough of them.

Basically would this make accessing the ancients even easier?


My experience with writing and speaking Ancient Greek is that it does not make reading Greek easy, or even all that much easier, but it makes reading Greek more COMFORTABLE. It makes the language seem something that is closer to you, not alien, and words and phrases, some words and phrases anyway, go more directly and more quickly into your brain. I guess that's what they mean by "internalization." Active use of an ancient language is not some magic bullet, but is something I would recommend.

Can I do it without devoting a ridiculous amount of time to it each day also?


Yes and no. Active use does take tons of time, but much of that time can be spent during dead periods. You can speak Latin to yourself while you are mowing the lawn or taking a walk or driving to the bank. You can translate a pop song in your head. You can write a quick story while you are waiting in a Dentist office.

What I'm talking about is not formal composition in using a book to produce English to Latin excersies. These to me are incredible tedious, although they probably are helpful. I'm talking about teaching yourself to speak Latin, first by writing it as much as possible, then by listening to audio as much as possible. (You should NEVER be washing dishes without having some Latin in the background. Make your own recordings.) Then by talking a lot to yourself.

At some point, you will want to get together with people and speak Latin. But there is lots of prep that you CAN and should do on your own.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Is It Possible to Study Latin Comp By Oneself?

Postby rustymason » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:20 pm

"I'm a Classicist, but due to module limitations"

Just curious, what do you mean?

How would I without an answer key? How would I know specifically where I'm going wrong etc?

Learning Latin and Greek are nothing but memorization and practice, practice, practice: reading, writing, and constant review, cotidie ad nauseum. For composition, obtain a comp book with an answer key, such as North & Hillard or Sidgwick. Along with that, read elementary readers such as the readers from Moss, Colson, Morice, or the Bible. I assign my students one N&H exercise and one story per day, writing out all vocabulary with definitions of unknown words, and reviewing the previous two-three days work before starting the current day's work.

Can I do it without devoting a ridiculous amount of time to it each day also?

I think one needs at least an hour for daily study at a minimum, and two is more than twice as good. This includes vocabulary review, review of previous work, and current work.
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Re: Is It Possible to Study Latin Comp By Oneself?

Postby Scribo » Thu Sep 16, 2010 6:30 pm

Thanks guys.

Mason, what don't you understand as to my comments on the modules? I'm a Classicist at university, the course is divided into modules, and since I have to balance two languages, history, archaeology etc etc I'm out of free choices to take a formal class in composition. Is that clearer? I'm worried that if I study without a teacher I'll develop too many bad habits.
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Re: Is It Possible to Study Latin Comp By Oneself?

Postby rustymason » Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:03 pm

Hi, Scribo,

I was just wondering what you meant when you said you are a classicist. I guess I had always considered a classicist as someone who had already mastered quite a bit of the classical. Is that what they call someone these days who majors in classics? I haven't been to university in quite a while!
Scribo wrote:I'm worried that if I study without a teacher I'll develop too many bad habits.
I agree with Markos. No worries there, really, though having expert help makes learning easier.
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Re: Is It Possible to Study Latin Comp By Oneself?

Postby Jefferson Cicero » Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:13 pm

Perhaps it would help if you chose one or more texts in your native language which you like to read, are about subjects which you find interesting, and with which are already familiar, and just start translating a few sentences or paragraphs here and there from those texts. The fact that the texts are interesting to you in and of themselves might ameliorate the tedium. Of course good dictionaries online or off would be necessary, as well as a good, handy grammar reference for checking yourself.
'Greek had to be simplified, and Latin had to be replaced with Italian, because we barbarians stole so many Greek and Latin words.'
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