Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lingua Latina: want to learn Latin?

I have recently started learning some basic Latin (beyond the vocab that it's possible to guess from having a good knowledge of English) and on the recommendation of Seamus, I have invested in a wonderful textbook called Lingua Latina per se Illustrata. Pars I: Familia Romana. There is no English in the entire book, you are simply immersed in Latin from page one. However, it is so cleverly structured in always building on what you already know that each page makes sense. For instance, here is the first sentence: Roma in Italia est. Even without the map of Europa on the opposite page, I bet you can understand it. Each sentence introduces one new idea, gradually building (with the help of a few handy illstrata) both your competence and confidence until you're reading fun little narratives about the life of a familia Romana. Who ever imagined that language learning could be so much fun?

11 comments:

Emergent Pilgrim said...

That explains a moment, while you were showing me around Sydney, when I was suitably impressed by your Latin. I can't remember what it was but I thought to myself, "hey, that isn't a common latin word he just used!" ;-)

byron smith said...

I don't know that I'd got the book by then... (librum non habeo (?) - I haven't done anything except present tense so far).

Must have just been my basic verbosity. :-)

Ryan said...

Got a book like that for learning arabic?

bigdog said...

Byron, that is awesome! I do hope that you'll let Joel Morrison know. I may even have to purchase a copy myself to brush up.

John-Arne said...

I've also used it, and it's a really good way of learning Latin. It's called the natural method of learning languages, meaning that you learn it like you learn your mother tongue.

byron smith said...

Ryan - not sure, though I think there are a number of similar books around for various languages. This is something of a movement in contemporary language learning.

Victor - I've been in frequent contact with Joel about it. He's been my primary Latin advisor, though Seamus has also helped (esp by putting me onto Lingua Latina!).

John-Arne - How far into LL are you?

Emergent Pilgrim said...

I think Byron your foray into Latin might inspire me to take a Biblical Greek class next semester. Then when you visit Adelaide I can impress you with my knowledge of all those places in our town that have Greek names such as Glenelgos or Barrossa Vallyos etc etc! I all seriousness one of the big holes in my theological formation is that i haven't studied Greek. I have however, done Hebrew! It is something that I wish to rectify soon and my church have agreed to let me do it!!!

geoffc said...

Hi Byron

What is the benefit in learning Latin in particular? Why would someone choose to learn latin?

John P. said...

Byron,

Thanks for the tip. Ive been doin latin for over a year but this will be a helpful refresher.

John P.

byron smith said...

Mark - that's great. I hope you enjoy it.

Geoff - all kinds of reasons! Much great theology has been written in Latin (Augustine, Irenaeus, Tertullian and all the other western fathers, western medieval theology, half of Luther and Calvin and many more), more than half the church read or heard the scriptures in Latin for more than half the church's history, all the great classical authors, plus Latin is the basis for much scientific terminology and most of the major languages of western Europe (including playing a significant role in the development of English).

John - which textbook have you been using?

quintus said...

geoffc: the pleasure of learning the language with more speakers in the history of the humanity.

quis discere libet, valeat!