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 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

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

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

“Teaching Ph.D.’s How to Reach Out” – Brilliant article by Leonard Cassuto

Whenever I tell people I’m doing a second MA in Classics and getting a teaching cert., I’m usually greeted with a puzzled expression. People wonder why I’m not choosing to do a PhD. Well, first and foremost, I’m just not as passionate about historical linguistics as one needs to be to pursue a PhD in it. But a very large part of it is because I couldn’t answer the question of why anyone should care about my topic. I wrote an angsty post about this a while ago that I’m not linking to because I’m trying to bury it as deeply in my archives as I possibly can.

But the point remains. I’m a Classicst, and that was a dwindling degree 50 years ago. People were fed up with 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