Why Should We Teach Our Students Latin?

This was originally written for a class, but I think it also belongs here. I hope you enjoy:

Latin is a language,
Dead as dead can be.
First it killed the Romans;
Now it’s killing me!

Latin, though a vital part of Western curriculum for the past 2000 years, has lost significant ground in the classroom over the last century. The schoolboy’s poem I have quoted above explains why: No one speaks Latin anymore, and now that nearly all literature, science, and philosophy are to be found in English, Latin is defunct[1], or at least it is perceived to be so because it is not a living language[2]. Continue reading

Advertisements

Why do we teach Latin and what role does Grammar play in it?

This is a question that has been on my mind a lot over the past year and is one of the main reasons why I have left my MA program at Villanova to obtain my Teaching Cert at Ursinus. To address the first question, I want to teach Latin is because it opens students up to a field that offers a level of interdisciplinary study difficult to find elsewhere. It can add depth and breadth to any student’s interest: Let’s say you’re in 10th grade and like your science classes – not only will studying Latin expose you to some of the history of science and eventually enable you to read the texts in the original version (and yes, you do get a lot more out of a text by reading it in the original) but you can also use science to study the Classics. Continue reading

Pedagogy and Perseus: Does ‘No Dictionaries’ offer a better solution?

I had just headed over to Perseus to look up a Greek verb (I thought it looked like a 3rd s. pres. ind. m/p contract verb, but I wanted to double check because verbs are definitely a weak point for me). Since Perseus parses things for me, I use it as a crutch all the time (horrible of me, I know). On the home page, there was a link to this article. It doesn’t say anything most of us who use Perseus don’t already know, but it does make some valid points about the pedagogical aspects of letting Latin students use it. I know when I was learning Latin, I produced horrible horrible word salad largely because when I was in a rush, I would use the click and scribble method to get my translations done on time. Actually, it wasn’t until I started using Hans Orberg’s Lingua Latina  as a summer study tool in college that I started producing anything coherent and started reading Latin in any sort of natural way (that being said, my high school Latin teacher was an absolute star and deserves every teaching award they give).

Anyway, two years ago I started tutoring (insert shameless plug for Elite Tutors Online, Inc.) and I was introduced to No Dictionaries. It does face some of the same problems as Perseus as far as short definitions go, but I like it because it encourages you to read the Latin more naturally, and it requires you to think about the grammar (i.e. I wouldn’t be able to cheat on the verb form I was looking up with Perseus). However, whenever I’m stuck on a bit of Latin, I still find myself running back to Perseus so I can see what the ‘answer’ is, even though it might be incorrect; at least it would be a plausible mistake I wouldn’t be ashamed to make in class.

Though this blog normally has a somewhat linguistics bent to it, I have to admit that I’m really more interested in Second Language Acquisition and the teaching of non-spoken languages. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on the pedagogical merits/faults of either of these two online tools and what they think might offer a better solution.

Also, go check out this blog, where there are two articles (that I am aware of) about online tools for Latin students:
Nodictionaries.com
Wictionary>Whitacker’s

An Unhealthy Obsession with W (and its pronunciation in Latin)

Oh! Hello there! It has be a very long time since I’ve been around, but with good reason – I’ve gotten a new apartment with my wonderful boyfriend, and I’ve been starting up my life as a student and grad assistant at Villanova. I thought as a ‘returning to my blog’ post, I would write about my favorite linguistic topic: [w]. Continue reading

Museum of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge

Life’s been a bit dull since I handed in my thesis (which went very well!), but it was broken by the pleasant opportunity to give a tour of the Cast Gallery (the most visible part of the Museum of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge).

The Cast Gallery is nestled above the foyer of the Classics Faculty and is really pretty awesome. I have to admit though, ‘pretty awesome’ was not how I first thought of the Cast Gallery. I think my thoughts Continue reading

Hiatus Resolution: ‘Your search returned no results’

So, my posts have been distinctly sparse as of late. There are two reasons for this; the primary one is the arrival of my boyfriend in Cambridge, but running a very close second is my thesis.

As is the way with theses, they do tend to take up a lot of one’s time, especially when left to the last minute *coughmighthavedonethatcough*. What I found particularly challenging about my topic though was the odd lack of literature. What I’m researching is hiatus resolution. Classicists may have encountered this term when dealing with Homer and epic correption, ‘vocalis ante vocalem corripitur‘ (a vowel is shortened before [another] vowel). This Latin phrase refers to the tendency in epic poetry for a word final long vowel or diphthong to shorten before a word initial vowel:

τὴν δ’ ἐγὼ οὐ λύσω: πρίν μιν καὶ γῆρας ἔπεισιν
(the final omega in ἐγὼ scans short, even though omega typically scans long, because it is followed by a vowel – in this case omicron)

This is one method Greek (and in a sense Latin – more later) employs to deal with hiatus. Hiatus can be Continue reading

Fun Epigraphy with Mary Beard

My thesis has been consuming a lot of my time (now that I’ve started working on it…), so the next installment of ‘w’ (I know you’re all dying to know how the saga ends!) will be coming along slowly; presumably when I take a hiatus from my thesis (it’s funny because my thesis is about hiatus.)

In the mean time, allow me to fill up my chunk o’internet by sending you along to a different chunk o’internet. A very nice chunk. One written by the lovely Mary Beard (who is lovely, despite whatever certain shallow pieces of excrement might say). It’s a quick little blurb about an amusing piece of epigraphy that she’d mentioned briefly in Meet the Romans: Mr “Hot Sex”: the full story

Enjoy!