One of the most important aspects to education is dialogue, and we love to promote an on-going conversation with past, present and future students. Summer 2012 student Lidia Zanetti Domingues spent last summer with Nancy Llewellyn in the AIRC’s Living Latin, Living History program, and writes about What Every Student of Latin Needs to Know.
At first sight, Latin always seems a tough nut. Whether you are a 14-year-old Italian during the you first day at the High school, or an American teenager who has decided to study Classics at the College, or anybody else eager to read Cicero or saint Augustine in the original language, the first impact with Latin can be really traumatic.
At the very beginning, I felt the same sense of discouragement that probably many of you are feeling or have felt too. But I decided that Latin language and literature were so amazing that it was worth the trouble. I have experienced many different types of teaching in different contexts and I wish to share my experiences with you. Here are some tips that I found very useful during my learning path.
- Latin has a meaning: many beginners seem to think that, since Latin authors wrote their works so many years ago, their language cannot but be cryptic and unintelligible. Therefore, when they look up a word in the dictionary, they tend to pick the weirdest meaning they find. Remember that, if classical authors are still read nowadays, it’s because they still can communicate us something! If your translation has not much meaning, it is probably wrong. Yes, decus suum can also mean “the honor of pigs”, but why should Tacitus write about pigs’ honor?
- Beware the false friends: the average student who is an Italian, French or Spanish native speaker is simply too lazy to look up some words in the dictionary. The Latin says focus? Well, it must mean fire (fuoco, feu, fuego), of course! Pity that it actually means “hearth”. Romance languages can be helpful allies to learn Latin also for those who are not native, but if you are not 100% sure about a meaning, it is better to check.
- Accent issues: in one of your first classes, you might have learned the laws of Latin accent and especially the “law of the penultimate accent”. They are very simple, but unfortunately one always discovers very soon that they are not so simple when it comes to implement them: sometimes it looks almost impossible to discern whether the penultimate syllable is long or not. My advice is to always read Latin texts aloud and check the words you are unsure of in dictionaries or grammars. You should also bear in mind the retraction of the accent in compound verbs (e.g. dàre-circùmdare): it is very tricky!
- Verbs quizzes: this is a method I often used during the first years of High school to learn Latin verbal system. With a friend, tear a sheet into pieces and write on them Latin verbs (the more insidious they are, the more useful the game will be), fold them and put them into a bowl. Draw a piece of paper in turn and try to analyze the verb: the other person must check that the answer is correct.
- Try a spoken Latin course: apart from making you get rid of accent problems (if you use Latin words in real conversations, you will know for sure where to put the accent!), knowing how to speak aliquantum Latine also liberates you from the dependence on dictionaries. Also spoken Latin has its complexity and one of the biggest issues is to enhance one’s lexicon. Try to memorize words making connections between them, associating them by topic or by contrast (a word and its antonym, for instance). I also noticed that some of my American classmates struggled a bit trying to pronounce some words (contignatio was especially their nightmare), but they find very useful to divide such words in shorter sections, practicing their pronounce separately and then joining the parts.
Good luck with your Latin studies, and believe me: one day, when you will be reading an epistle of Seneca or an ode of Horace, you will agree with me that all your efforts were worth those enchanting masterpieces!
~Lidia Zanetti Domingues, LATIN2012
Interesting in augmenting your Latin studies with an on-site, practically total immersion in Latin? Please take a look at our Living Latin, Living History program. There are a few spots left for applicants for this summer 2013’s program in Rome- check out our video for the full experience.
The other day, I took a break from Rome and headed to a beach where I met two young gentlemen with tattoos. In 2013, it’s not unusual to see tattoos of any kind, but what struck me as interesting is that both were in Latin, and after a quick chit chat, I learned that neither of the decorated had profoundly studied the language, they just liked the weight of it. I liked the fact that they were inadvertently promoting Latin as a living (and party-ing) language.
Latin loving comes in all shapes and forms– whether fans of an esoteric word or phrase or hard core academics who are living Latin to the fullest. Interestingly and on the academic horizon, Latin enrollment worldwide is increasing. How is this possible in a world that is logarithmically speeding up academically, professionally and socially? Isn’t the study of Latin a practice of patience as well, thus contrary to all this techno-social velocity?
Quite the opposite, Latin is about substance in a world that is becoming more and more streamlined and simplified, and to some extent become similar. Turning to history and the past, many look to the great empires. The Romans continue to exercise a pull on our imagination through the rich, diverse writings preserved in Latin. We feel we can get under their skin and know their world via Latin. And we feel we have a better grasp on ours and others by studying Latin. It’s not by chance that the worlds of Harry Potter and Dan Brown are peppered with Latin.
To extrapolate, having knowledge of Latin along with the ability to use it in daily life is something unique– whether making light conversation on the beach or spending your entire 24 hour day speaking Latin with colleagues and friends. Though we don’t promise any tattoos, we do promote an almost 100% immersion in Latin with our summer Living Latin program, led by Professor Nancy Llewellyn. Nancy loves Latin as much as these two love their tattoos, and probably more.
They are calling it “the tweet heard around the world”, a less than 140-character message by ANSA journalist Giovanna Chirri that announced to resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. “B16 si ‘e dimesso. Lascia pontificato dal 28 febbraio” [B16 is stepping down. Leaving on February 28.] The news itself is beyond spectacular. As Papal history fans will note, Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pontiff to voluntarily resign since Gregory XII in 1415. Yes, nearly 600 year ago. And how this news was not just conveyed [Chirri’s social media short-hand] but understood is just as spectacular. Chirri, part of a papal audience on Monday, February 11, listened to the Pope’s Latin declaration,
“Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commissum renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 29, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.” [For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.]
She confirmed with ANSA what she had heard, posted her tweet, and from there, the deluge. Journalists quickly caught on, and began spreading the news, along with speculation as to why. Chirri has quickly become a superstar both journalistically and linguistically. Not only was she the very first to get the scoop on history-making news, she quickly followed up her tweet with another stating “the Pope’s Latin is very easy to understand”, an inadvertent shout-out to supporters of Latin language and its studies in academic institutions across the globe. Optime, Iohanna!
Thanks to Chirri’s great use of Latin, a once “useless” language proves ever relevant in the real world and Latin’s lasting legacy continues to shine bright and clear. It is opportune to note that there are many opportunities to study Latin around the world but very few to speak it and we are proud to support Latin and its uses in daily life and contemporary media by studying Latin in a contemporary and living environment. Rome is the ideal city- as the city is literally covered in Latin inscriptions– and now with the world scrutinizing Vatican Ctiy for the coming months, it is a great opportunity to re-examine Latin’s role in contemporary society.
Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation [VIDEO and below photo, The Guardian, February 11, 2012]
Shortly after Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi announced on twitter and in Latin the Pontifical Academy for Latin Studies, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI will begin tweeting on December 12 as @Pontifex, perhaps the best handle to appear on Twitter in years. We are excited that @Pontifex will be flexing the papal fingers to comment in no less than eight languages: English, Italian, German, French, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic and Spanish (each under language-specific Twitter accounts).
Since only a few tweets will be hand-picked and then responded to by @Pontifex, our upcoming Latin tweet up will focus on Quid pipies Romano Pontifici? So for the next few days think about what you would tweet the Pope and then join in to Pipiatio Latina #LTNL Tuesday, December 11 at 3 pm Pacific/ 6pm Eastern Standard.
Pipiatio Latina is led by Dr. Nancy Llewellyn, Associate Professor of Latin at Wyoming Catholic College. To participate, submit tweets to Nancy @RomeontheRange and @AIRomanculture, or send us questions/comments in advance to email@example.com. Whether simply following or ready to engage in some chatter, look for hash tags: #LTNL and #LatinTweetUp and remember to add either or both of them to your tweets. We’ve also customized a TweetGrid so that you can follow the hashtags and our account at the same time.
Thanks for helping to promote Latin in the real and virtual worlds!
For a glimpse into Latin in action, please take a look at our Summer 2012 “Living Latin, Living History in Rome” program videos.
Latin-language ATMs, Latin-speaking tour guides and Latin Segway riding scholars. Thanks to scholars, fans and friends, Latin language is making a comeback outside of the classroom and on to the streets. In the quest to promote Latin, we want to celebrate our second year of Pipiatio Latina, a face-paced, on-going Latin-language Twitter meet up, on Thursday October 25th with the season’s first sixty-minute tweet up all about promoting Latin in real life use: Pipiatio Latina: Agere Latine.
Co-hosted by Dr. Nancy Llewellyn and American Institute for Roman Culture, Pipiatio Latina will begin at 2 pm Central/ 4pm Eastern Standard time on Twitter. Just search for hashtag #LTNL and #LatinTweetUp, or keep your eye on @AIRomanculture. We’ve also customized a TweetGrid so that you can follow all three at once.Whether available by twitter or not, we encourage all of you to participate: send us questions/comments in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org, @AIRomanculture, and Facebook RomanCulture so that we can feature them in the #LatinTweetup. And definitely state your mind in real time during Thursday’s tweet up. We will be posting a follow up to each tweet up on this blog and will continue #LTNL Latin Tweet Ups through the year.
Help us to promote Latin by joining in and spreading the word!
For a glimpse into Latin in action, please take a look at our Summer 2012 “Living Latin, Living History in Rome” program videos.
Salve! We wanted to share a peek into our Summer 2012’s “Living Latin, Living History in Rome” summer program led by Prof. Nancy Llewellyn of Wyoming Catholic College. Nancy, an expert in spoken Latin practice and pedagogy, brought students in and out of Rome in an almost completely spoken Latin environment, and she was kind of enough to enjoy a bit of educational paparazzi.
The following links are for two videos produced by AIRC. T his summer, we followed Nancy and class — and had a great time, of course! We hope you do as well, and continue to spread the word[s] on living Latin.
- Overview of the program experience, showing the on-site readings, guest lectures, classroom exercises, and excursions that make this program unique and a must for any student who wants to understand Latin at the deepest level.
- Interview with Prof. Llewellyn in which she explains how she became involved with spoken Latin and why learning to speak the language is so important for anyone who works extensively with it.