Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

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seneca2008
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Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by seneca2008 »

Relative clauses are introduced in Chapter 3 of Familia Romana. They seem to me quite straight forward and the grammatical explanations in the Companion are clear. Some in my class are struggling with the idea and I have run out of ways of explaining it. Part of the problem is simply the unfamiliar terminology.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has encountered problems with this chapter, either as a teacher or student. Equally it would heartening to hear that others had a positive experience and encountered no problems. Its difficult to remember what it was like when I first started Latin!
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by Pianophile »

I have had another look at that chapter and don't think I had any problems with it. The following extract explains relative clauses in great detail and, more importantly, in words of one syllable. Maybe there's something useful in it for your class. https://www.usu.edu/markdamen/Latin1000 ... ns/17T.pdf. Sorry if you have already seen that.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by seneca2008 »

Thanks for that Pianophile.

I may try to filet it as its often useful to put the same material in a novel form. Fresh approaches and humour often work well.

I always ask the class to work through the exercises published in the separate book Exercitia Latina I. Exercise 8 of chapter 3 has 15 questions on relative clauses. They made heavy weather of it the first time round so I wrote a lengthy piece giving what I thought was a foolproof way of checking the case, number and gender of the relative pronoun but despite this they still had difficulties.

In the last class I showed them my answers to exercise 7 (edit not 8) and asked them to explain why the relative clause had the form it did. I was expecting an answer like the relative quae is feminine and singular because it refers to Puella and is in the nominative case because it is the subject of the verb (cantat) in the relative clause. (for example in the first sentence "Puella quae cantat laeta est.").

After dealing with claims like "I can't explain it but I can translate it" , it became apparent that some had not really understood my explanation of how relative pronouns work.

Perhaps it may just all settle down and click. They wondered how crucial understanding relative clauses would be. (The vain hope that they were not important was bolstered by the fact that the Pensa dont really provide much material to practice relative clauses.) I have told them that it is a typical feature of Classical Latin and its petty important they understand it. I can't be sure but at school I think we only studied relative clauses in our third year of Latin when we started reading Caesar. Its one of those things I have forgotten how I learned it.

Apologies for this rambling post. But I was surprised at how difficult they found this and wondered whether perhaps relative clauses are introduced a little bit early in this course.
Last edited by seneca2008 on Tue Feb 08, 2022 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by katalogon »

Seneca, this reminds me of my old second-year Spanish textbook (¡Tanto Mejor!, Lathrop, 1987). In the preliminary lesson, the author has a section "About relative pronouns":

"Relative pronouns are the which, that and who that you see in the middle of the sentence. They are a lot easier to recognize than to use. In fact, it is a bit early in your language career for you to use them with any facility (and experience has shown that even after students in the second year "learn" them, they seldon use them anyway when they talk or write). Nonetheless, they are absolutely unavoidable because they are found everywhere -- in speech and in writing -- so it is crucial that you get used to them and learn what they mean."

I think that you are up against this problem. It is hard to believe that a second-year textbook would have this kind of problem, given that relative pronouns are used constantly in spoken and written Spanish.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by tico »

I would avoid explaining the grammar. It's too complicated for beginners. I think it would be better to decompose an compose again the relative clauses, like:
Puer qui ridet est Marcus. -> Puer est Marcus. Puer ridet. -> Puer [puer ridet] est Marcus. Puer qui ridet est Marcus.
In my experience, doing so in the different examples you have in the end of the chapter would help the students to just grab the general meaning and the way relatives work.
A good example would be (line 72-73):
Puella est Iulia. Puellam Marcus pulsat. -> Puella [puellam Marcus pulsat] est Iulia. -> Puella quam Marcus pulsat est Iulia.
Of course you can (or have to) explain that you have "quam" because it substitutes "puellam". Line 75 shows the masculine accusative "quem" etc.
Hope this helps.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by Pianophile »

It’s perhaps rather ironic that after claiming quite truthfully I had had no problem with FR Chap 3 I remembered having come completely unstuck over relative clauses in RA XXXVII. Obviously at a higher level and different context, but even so.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by seneca2008 »

Thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions. More are always helpful.
tico wrote:I would avoid explaining the grammar. It's too complicated for beginners
I understand what you mean but I dont see how anyone can do the exercitia if they haven't understood the grammar. Unless you understand that the relative agrees in number and gender with the antecedent but it takes the case according to its role in its own clause I dont see how it is possible to do chapter 3 exercitia 7 ( apologies for saying 8 in a previous post - now amended).

I think they understand the general meaning ok buy it was clear that there was a lot of guessing when we did the exercise. I tend to always ask why they have chosen a form rather than simply assuming if they have the correct answer they know how they got there. ( mostly I do this as a spot check but in this exercise I asked it on each one.)

Perhaps I am making heavy weather of this. I think their lack of grasp isn't going to materially hold them back in the next few chapters but as Pianophile's experience shows that if you haven't really grasped what's going on when the syntax is straightforward I worry that when it becomes more complex they will flounder. Maybe floundering is ok? All part of the learning process. :D
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by tico »

What I meant by "avoiding grammar" is not going deep in theory. Using the examples I gave, the student could grasp the idea that the relative agrees only in gender and number, not in case, with the antecedent, and has the same case of the word it's replacing. In this chapter, Orberg works only with the accusative, because he doesn't want to go too deep into this subject. It's chapter 3 and they are still full beginners. My idea is: let the students get the general rules by induction, not by theory.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

tico wrote: Tue Feb 08, 2022 3:54 am I would avoid explaining the grammar. It's too complicated for beginners. I think it would be better to decompose an compose again the relative clauses, like:
Puer qui ridet est Marcus. -> Puer est Marcus. Puer ridet. -> Puer [puer ridet] est Marcus. Puer qui ridet est Marcus.
In my experience, doing so in the different examples you have in the end of the chapter would help the students to just grab the general meaning and the way relatives work.
A good example would be (line 72-73):
Puella est Iulia. Puellam Marcus pulsat. -> Puella [puellam Marcus pulsat] est Iulia. -> Puella quam Marcus pulsat est Iulia.
Of course you can (or have to) explain that you have "quam" because it substitutes "puellam". Line 75 shows the masculine accusative "quem" etc.
Hope this helps.
I do not avoid the grammar. One thing I like about Ørberg is the extensive reading combined with the grammar explanations, which I always go over with my students, providing supplemental explanations as well. It works well, though students need the constant repetition of seeing it context really to fix it in the brain. But the teacher helps with that... :)

BTW, my best student grammarian this year is a 7th grader. Not too complicated for him...
Last edited by Barry Hofstetter on Tue Feb 08, 2022 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by seneca2008 »

Barry Hofstetter wrote:I do not avoid the grammar.
Nor me. I would be grateful to know how your class coped with chapter three relative pronouns? And whether they managed the exercises I talk about above.
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

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tico wrote:What I meant by "avoiding grammar" is not going deep in theory. Using the examples I gave, the student could grasp the idea that the relative agrees only in gender and number, not in case, with the antecedent, and has the same case of the word it's replacing. In this chapter, Orberg works only with the accusative, because he doesn't want to go too deep into this subject. It's chapter 3 and they are still full beginners.
I have done exactly that with my class. I explained how they can determine the gender, number and case of a relative by a simple rule and they found this difficult to understand. There is no deep theory to go into. :D
tico wrote:My idea is: let the students get the general rules by induction, not by theory.
I dont know whether you speak from experience of teaching but I have found that some things some students can work out but a student who has never seen a highly inflected language like Latin before is not going to make any progress this way.

The good thing about Oberg is that everything is repeated and graduated. But I couldn't teach it and expect students to work out their own grammatical rules, it would be chaos and take for ever. Nor did Orberg expect this. He wrote a Latine disco setting out the grammar. He also wrote the exercises, unfortunately his explanations aren't really enough to do them in this case. (Jeanne Neumann 's companion is much more useful.)

I do try to discourage translation in favour of the class explaining how the Latin works. This is not popular. They are all firmly wedded to the idea that translation shows they understand. Its a battle! :D

I think relative clauses are introduced too early in this course.
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

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Pianophile wrote: Tue Feb 08, 2022 10:46 am It’s perhaps rather ironic that after claiming quite truthfully I had had no problem with FR Chap 3 I remembered having come completely unstuck over relative clauses in RA XXXVII. Obviously at a higher level and different context, but even so.
It's also a bit of a coincidence that in my first year Latin book, which contained 75 lessons, relative pronouns were covered at Lesson XXXVII.

Tico and Katalogon make some good points about presenting the subject. I wonder if analysing the mistakes the students are making might identify possible misconceptions. Do they understand case usage? Do they understand the concept of agreement? Do they consistently supply, say, an incorrect (e.g. nom. instead of dat. or abl.) form? Can they identify the antecedent? Perhaps exercises that focus on just identifying the antecedent in English sentences might help. Can the students reproduce the Latin rel. pronouns in English and vice versa?, e.g. cuius=of whom, whose, cui=for whom, quem = to whom, quo=by, with, from whom? As for the students' argument concerning the "validity" of translation, I think that only seems true if they are engaging in Latin to English translation. Translating English to Latin, on the other hand, is a valuable indicator of a student's mastery of grammar. Of course, the counter argument is "We're not learning to write Latin, just read it.", at which point one might point out that the purpose of composition is not to produce another generation of Ciceros, but to help the teacher diagnose how he can teach more effectively.

I just saw Barry's post. I was hoping he would weigh in.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

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[quote =aetos]It's also a bit of a coincidence that in my first year Latin book, which contained 75 lessons, relative pronouns were covered at Lesson XXXVII.[/quote]

I think this is my point. I wouldn't have expected relative clauses to be mentioned in chapter 3.

Thanks for your helpful points about diagnostics. I have of course been all through that, in trying to pin down what the issue is. I think the problem is lack of familiarity with how to talk about grammar. So because they cannot be precise about their difficulties these difficulties recede into a fog of "I don't understand".

I was obviously not precise enough in my remarks about translation. In LLPSI the idea is of course to read latin and understand it without translating. There is no translation from English to latin or vice versa. The exercises are all in Latin. I test understanding by asking comprehension questions in both latin and English.

Nevertheless students think that the measure of understanding is translation. I dont agree with that. Understanding comes before translation. I want them to read without translating. I wish someone had tried to teach me that way! Of course occasionally I will translate something for them if they are foxed - I am not doctrinaire . When i asked one person to explain her choice of relative pronoun (which was the object of the verb in its clause). I was told that the only way she could work it out was to translate it first into English. It seemed to pass her by that once you have translated something you have already decided the function of everything in the sentence, but have not been explicit about the grammatical function of everything you are translating. Its all very end game orientated where the result is a "correct translation" rather than understanding!

Written in haste before I go off to play Mozart string quintets! Apologies if I have got the tone wrong. :D I mean all this in an amused friendly way.
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

Aetos wrote: Tue Feb 08, 2022 5:30 pm I just saw Barry's post. I was hoping he would weigh in.
Thanks. Let me add that this is an excellent discussion, and that the various techniques are not at odds with each other, but can be combined, particularly since some students respond better to some techniques than others, but the more angles from which we can approach it, the better.
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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

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To really spook or confuse them you can mention how in poetry the antecedent sometimes comes after the relative pronoun!

It does seem like most students of this generation have trouble with (or never learned at all) grammatical terminology in English, so when you explain Latin grammar using such terminology they sadly have trouble digesting an English explanation.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by wibbleypants »

katalogon wrote: Tue Feb 08, 2022 1:43 am Seneca, this reminds me of my old second-year Spanish textbook (¡Tanto Mejor!, Lathrop, 1987). In the preliminary lesson, the author has a section "About relative pronouns":

"Relative pronouns are the which, that and who that you see in the middle of the sentence. They are a lot easier to recognize than to use. In fact, it is a bit early in your language career for you to use them with any facility (and experience has shown that even after students in the second year "learn" them, they seldon use them anyway when they talk or write). Nonetheless, they are absolutely unavoidable because they are found everywhere -- in speech and in writing -- so it is crucial that you get used to them and learn what they mean."

I think that you are up against this problem. It is hard to believe that a second-year textbook would have this kind of problem, given that relative pronouns are used constantly in spoken and written Spanish.
Heh. I live in Spain and can tell you that most people (that) I know just use "que" for relative. It's very rare to hear a "el cual" etc.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

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Yes, I can't recall hearing the el cual, etc. - more in written.

I use "Lo que pasó es que ..." constantly when I have to explain what happened to me.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by Barry Hofstetter »

leisulin wrote: Wed Feb 09, 2022 3:10 am To really spook or confuse them you can mention how in poetry the antecedent sometimes comes after the relative pronoun!

It does seem like most students of this generation have trouble with (or never learned at all) grammatical terminology in English, so when you explain Latin grammar using such terminology they sadly have trouble digesting an English explanation.
That's why a teacher carefully explains the terminology as the class progresses. We cure ignorance.
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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by seneca2008 »

I had hoped leisulin's post would remain buried. It maybe that we have a different sense of what is amusing but I dont think its the teachers's job to confuse or "spook" their pupils. I am sure I confuse mine at times but I dont do so deliberately.

I don't know which "generation" is being referred to, but my students are not young and do not all have a grasp of "grammatical terminology in English". I certainly dont recall any formal instruction at school in English grammar. My introduction to formal grammar came when I started Latin lessons aged 11.

"Golden age" nostalgia?
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by wibbleypants »

seneca2008 wrote: Tue Feb 15, 2022 4:30 pm
I don't know which "generation" is being referred to, but my students are not young and do not all have a grasp of "grammatical terminology in English". I certainly dont recall any formal instruction at school in English grammar. My introduction to formal grammar came when I started Latin lessons aged 11.
Mine when I started learning Spanish at age 42.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by leisulin »

For whatever it's worth, I had second thoughts about my "joke" or whatever you want to call it, and went back in to try to remove it before anyone else had posted any more responses, but I couldn't find any way to remove it. Afterwards, I likewise hoped it would remain buried, but no such luck.

As for generations, I will clarify: I was a Classics major at the Univ. of Arizona from 1974-1978 but I focused on Greek, not Latin. I had taken Latin and French in high school and my favorite thing in life is studying languages, so I don't recall ever having a problem learning/understanding grammatical terminology. But I went back to school in my mid-forties to work on a Master's degree in Chinese, which, somewhat to my surprise, I discovered is mostly about learning to read Classical Chinese which is considerably different from modern Chinese, so I was somewhat ahead of the game compared to the other students who had never studied a "dead" language. I was a TA during two semesters (2004-5) and I observed that the 18-22 year olds taking first year Classical Chinese were somewhat mystified at times when/if I or the professor teaching the class would use grammatical terminology like "relative clauses". So, I guess by "this generation" I meant here in the 21st century.

Anyway. I apologize for my inappropriate comment. :oops:

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

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When I was in college, all courses had a part in their presentation called "prerequisites", and they were mandatory to have mastered before starting, they were not studied in the course. They were basic to be able to advance. The study of Latin requires many, many prerequisites, and much, much time.

Generational, golden age? I think so, language education in all parts of the world has become a kind of "fast food", and I think that everything depends on where and with whom you study, and above all, who studies. Latin in 90 days, playing an instrument is 30 days? What a nonsense and waste of time! I don't think that a Latin teacher should waste time teaching English or Spanish grammar, etc. it is something that the student must already know beforehand. Perhaps the most appropriate, and I think that if it is important, to clarify things and clear up doubts, beyond that, no.

I also have many doubts when I read that someone is studying Latin with a certain book or method and is "bored". The pleasure is in learning, in loving what is studied. To learn a stringed musical instrument, for example, you have to get calluses on your fingers before you can play the piece of music you love. And yes, it's true, Latin teachers don't die, they just decline. :lol:

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by Aetos »

Dave,
For what it's worth, I took the joke for what it was and nothing more, well maybe a little more: You're just expressing the enormous frustration we all feel when trying to explain a grammatical concept to someone who's never learned the lingo. Just like Seneca and Wibbleypants, my introduction to grammar and syntax came from studying another language, in my case Modern Greek. My wife, who is a native Greek speaker, would be hard-pressed to name all the tenses and I consistently beat her at spelling duels (especially when we had the polytonic system), but she immediately recognises any mistake I might make, and yes, even after 60 years of speaking Greek, I still make mistakes.

To tell you the truth, for some reason I can't remember there being a specific part of English class that dealt with just Grammar. I remember in high school reading, analysing and writing and in college taking the obligatory English Composition classes. I think for a native speaker of English, most of his instruction in Grammar comes in, well, grammar school (couldn't resist- that's what we used to call elementary school). As for relative clauses, conditionals, indirect speech, complex sentences-those concepts and constructions I learnt from Latin.
Last edited by Aetos on Wed Feb 16, 2022 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by seneca2008 »

leisulin wrote:Anyway. I apologize for my inappropriate comment. :oops:
No need for apologies! I was being over serious. The only point I really wanted to make is that grammatical knowledge is probably linked to educational opportunity rather than particular generations. Its difficult to generalise of course.
Persuade tibi hoc sic esse, ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, maxima pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, magna nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus.

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Re: Familia Romana Chapter 3 relative clauses

Post by Themistocles00 »

I think the best way to understand relative clauses is the follow:

Marcus est puer qui cum Iulia ludit

"qui cum iulia ludit" is of course a relative clause, it tells you something about the antecedent and, above all, if you isolate the relative clause and change the relative pronoun to the antecedent the clause makes total sense:

"Marcus cum iulia ludit" I think its a good criterion to recognize this construction, and this allows to understand a sentence like this:

Interrogatur Marcum, cuius pater ei vehementer irascitur.

cuius it really means Marci, then it´s easy to understand why relative pronoun sometimes has a different inflexion.

Sometimes linguistic definitions are ambiguous, and functional criteria make things distinguishable and recognisable.

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