Cards on the table: Why I am so strongly opposed to grammar-translate

I seriously struggled with Latin when I was in high school. I had an absolutely amazing teacher (I realized that both then & now as I go through my teacher training courses), so I know that that definitely wasn’t the problem. I got nearly straight As in the class, so clearly I was doing something right. But when it came time to translate a chunk of Latin, I seriously had no idea what was going on. It was like I was solving a giant puzzle and I had to figure out what setting of all the variables produced a sentence that made some sort of sense – just by itself! Not even in context! I ended up with complete word salad and was  super inventive with rules. I saw Latin as a series of rules I had to manipulate until something vaguely comprehensible emerged – sort of like a proof in Logic. It didn’t occur to me until much later that Latin was a language that people acquired and manipulated with ease and grace—and without needing an advanced degree in linguistics! Continue reading

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

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

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya

Finishing my thesis and viva means that I now spend obscene amounts of time reading silly things on the Internet. It also means that I spend many of my nights out having fun and then I write my blog while hungover the following morning. In short, I apologize for another post about a linguistic point from a humor site.

This is an article from Cracked.com from 2007: 9 Words That Don’t Mean What You Think.

It lists 9 words that are extreme or very visible examples of relatively recent semantic shift (except for #1, irregardless1, which my spell check doesn’t even correct…). Of course, semantic shift is a known phenomenon, and once the change is Continue reading

Fighting the Inner Presciptivist with XKCD

I’ve been reading xkcd comics for about 6 years, religiously. I have, in fact, read every single one of them because, like a dork, when I first started reading them, I did the ‘catching up on a new webcomic’ thing and went through the archives. Though Randall claims his is a webcomic of ‘romance, sarcasm, math, and language’, it’s probably safe to say that ‘language’ isn’t often a topic. However, in all those years, he has never posted a single thing about language that immediately made me think, ‘THIS IS WRONG!’. However, today’s comic did:

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

Hitherto Unknown Language??!?!!!11!

Sure, why not.

My first reaction to this article was skeptical, as it almost always is whenever someone has ‘discovered a new X’ and bases their discovery on miniscule evidence. I would certainly prefer the evidence were something other than names. However, it’s not such shoddy evidence as it might appear at first. Though I make zero claims to knowing much at all about Semitic languages or really anything at all about the big puddle of languages that lived east of the Aegean (reread the phrase ‘big puddle of languages’ and imagine the simultaneously crestfallen and disdainful look of the Assyriologist who just read that phrase), I would have to agree that when a whole bunch of names we’ve never heard before show up, it makes sense that they would have come from another language.

So, sincerely, well done dudes and dudettes who deciphered the tablet.

What irritates me is Continue reading