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My Latin Plan

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My Latin Plan

Postby Seanchaidh » Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:19 pm

Salvete, amici mei. As noted in my introductory message, I have some Latin experience (I found it not so difficult to read Caesar about 3 years ago) but I need to take it to the next level at this point and I need to recover much lost ground. I've put together a plan and I can devote several hours every day to this. I'd like to ask for your critical opinion on this plan - what am I doing right, what should I add, etc.

Here's the plan:

1. Start fresh by working through the entirety of D'Ooge. I feel like I need a helping hand to walk me through Latin again, which is why I decided not to begin with simple reading.
2. Immerse myself in easy beginner reading: Julia, Cornelia, Carolus et Maria.
3. Immerse myself in slightly more complex material: Fabulae Faciles, Ciceronis Filius (Paoli), Varius Libellus (Paoli), Latin Stories (Rouse) - I also have Latin myth material compiled by Piazza.
4. Move to authentic Latin material, beginning with Caesar.
5. Unsure.

I'm also unsure whether I should include composition material, such as the recommended North and Hillard, and at what stage to introduce that.

Thank you.
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Re: My Latin Plan

Postby mwh » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:24 pm

I have no experience of D’Ooge myself, but if you feel you need a grammar refresher focused on Caesar, no doubt that would help. And so could simple Eng.-Lat. translation exercises (“composition”), though that’s optional. But as to your steps 2 and 3, my advice would be to cut them out altogether (if you’re that insecure, I suppose you could read through the latter part of Steadman’s edition of Ritchie’s Fabulae Faciles, but you really shouldn’t need to) and to move directly to Caesar—and as soon as possible to other Latin, otherwise you risk taking Caesar’s Latin as normative. What other Latin? Whatever you find interesting and not impossibly difficult, with or without vocabulary or commentary. Challenge yourself. Explore and sample, and don’t give up too soon. Remember it all makes sense. Use a dictionary (and a grammar if you still need one after D’Ooge), and ask here about anything you can’t understand after really trying.

You’re no longer a schoolboy or tied to a curriculum, so you can roam free. From classical antiquity you could try Lucretius for Epicureanism (but that’s in epic verse to entice readers, so you might not like that :) ), Cicero’s philosophical works (easy enough once you get used to his formal style, very different from Caesar’s), and Seneca (pithier), for starters, and of course there’s loads of medieval philosophical works in Latin, not to mention renaissance writings: you might try Descartes, for instance. I would jump in and see how it goes.
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Re: My Latin Plan

Postby Hylander » Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:53 am

I would second mwh's suggestion to skip made-up Latin and go directly to Caesar. If you feel you need to brush up before you do, however, instead of D'Ooge, I would suggest working through North & Hilliard's Latin Prose Composition, which begins with elementary exercises and progresses systematically and rapidly through all of the constructions you will need to read Caesar and most of those needed to read other Latin prose writers.

D'Ooge provides a lot of very elementary material and progresses much less rapidly. You can use D'Ooge to review Latin morphology, if you feel you need that, but for that purpose it would probably be more efficient to procure a hard copy of Allen & Greenough's Latin Grammar (which will serve you throughout your career), and use it to review the basic morphology without getting bogged down in the minutiae, which you'll learn as your reading progresses.

North & Hilliard is available on this site to download for free.


The main thing is to get into reading real Latin--not Latin written for teenage or sub-teen students--as quickly as possible. In fact, I would suggest that you should start reading Caesar in small doses as soon as possible, hand in hand with your grammar review, using Caesar to supplement the grammar review, making sure you not only understand the Latin but also can identify the morphological forms and the syntactic constructions. The more you read, the more rapidly you'll internalize the morphology and syntax and the sooner you'll be able to read fluently without having to resort to grammatical analysis constantly.
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Re: My Latin Plan

Postby Nesrad » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:53 am

I'm perplexed at earlier commenters' advice to skip the graded reading. If I were you, I'd stick to your original plan, but I would skip only step 2. Those texts are meant to be used by a teacher while learning grammar, not after. I'd also add Lhomond's Epitome and De Viris to step 3, and some of the Vulgate.

Graded reading is meant to develop fluency and avoid what generations of school boys had to suffer: toiling over a page of Caesar with a dictionary for an hour or more. That's not how languages should be learned. Take for example the LLPSI series, it has tons of supplementary material meant to develop fluency. (I'm not peddling LLPSI, I dislike the commercial aspect of this series, but the pedagogy is sound. You'll do very well with D'Ooge followed by Latin readers.) I think that when a student picks up an unadapted author, he should be able to read it without frustration. Otherwise the material is too advanced. I'm not saying that it shouldn't be challenging, but the challenge should be on par with the student's ability.

Some people will object that adapted reading is not "authentic" Latin. It's no less authentic than any Latin written by a non-native speaker, such as Erasmus. There is some very bad adapted Latin, and some very good adapted Latin, just as there is good and bad original Latin.

When you move on to the authors, continue to respect the rule of gradualism. Use school editions with notes and vocabulary. Start with Caesar, of course, since he's by far the easiest author. Then try In Catilinam, you'll find tons of school editions. Read whatever authors you find in school editions: Nepos, Sallust, and Virgil are popular authors.

When you're past the school book stage, start using Loebs. But don't look at the English side unless absolutely necessary, or until you've finished a passage and you want to check your comprehension. You'll learn a lot with bilingual editions. By "absolutely necessary", I mean that when you're stumped, you first need to study the context, the examples in the dictionary, and just take time to think. This will develop the autonomy needed to read the authors. Eventually you'll be able to pick up a critical edition without translation or notes and sight read without a dictionary.

This is the course of study that I would recommend, but on the other hand, you should read whatever you like. Mwh is totally correct in pointing out that you're not a school boy. The most important thing is to stay motivated, and if that means ditching your plan, do it.
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Re: My Latin Plan

Postby Seanchaidh » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:11 pm

I want to thank you all for your comments thus far.

@Nesrad. I opted for the plan that I did largely for the reasons you outline, coupled with past experience of studying languages. The graded reading approach has worked best for me in the past.

@mwh and Hylander. The schoolboy concern is a valid one, something that seems to affect many recent graduates. I'm glad you voiced it. The suggestion to do composition work seems sound, I think I'll introduce that immediately in place of reading the Stage 2 material I listed. That will help me identify my weak points more effectively.

Thanks again.
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