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In answer to Laura Gibbs' request for Latin manifestos:

Why I read Latin out loud

  • Because hearing something, even when I'm doing the speaking myself, makes it much easier to internalise and learn than when I'm just seeing the printed words on the page.
  • Because reading out loud is the only way I can think of to make sure I really know where the stress, at least, should go in any word in any given oblique case, never mind the vowel quantities.
  • Because, when it comes to poetry, not reading it out loud is like reading a musical score rather than listening to the music.
  • Because Latin is a language, dammit, and it dies if it isn't spoken just as music dies if it isn't played.

Views: 160

Comment by Laura Gibbs on December 3, 2007 at 8:26am
THANK YOU, Raphaela! Your comparison to music suddenly made me remember a traumatic moment in my young life when, in third grade, the choir director told me to just mouth the words because my attempts to sing were messing up the other children in the choir. I never sang again in the presence of another human being. I think that this kind of thing often happens to Latin students who are told not to bother with the reading out loud because they cannot get it right and then the results is silence - a fatal silence for Latin, as you say here. Thanks for posting this! I'll link to it from my little wiki page. :-)
Comment by Harry Hancock on December 3, 2007 at 10:56am
It's also a great idea in terms of what it can offer the study of Modern Romance languages. Many of the stresses appear in the same place in Italian and Spanish words.

Also, word order and sentence structure is similar in these languages, so the way you phrase the whole sentence in Latin can inform their study, and vice versa.
Comment by Bill Parsons on December 18, 2007 at 8:58pm
This has been my problem with greek- I never took it in college (my only regret in life) and I just cannot do it on my own, as I cannot "hear" it in my head." I can "hear" the latin. We didn't do alot of recitation (and no conversation) at Temple, but enough to give me a feel for the language, which has informed my understanding of the language. I am trying to get my students to speak it, I will to post some of their recitations of Horace, Catullus, Virgil, and Ovid in the New Year!
Comment by Raphaela on December 19, 2007 at 8:00am
Bill: I can hear the Latin to an extent, but in a very untrustworthy way as my Latin teachers at varsity (I didn't have the opportunity of taking Latin at school) were terribly careless and cavalier about pronunciation. In retrospect I suspect the reason they couldn't teach it correctly is because they'd never been taught it themselves. As a result I have auditory memories of libertas stressed on the first syllable and pietas on the second, and similar such atrocities. I'm currently on an ongoing online quest to track down as many Latin MP3s as possible to load in my MP3 player and brainwash myself with, but it's difficult to find reliable ones. The Latinum podcast is quite iffy in its own right (viz. pronouncing it Látinum in the introductory sequence) and requires just as much second-guessing as my unreliable memories.

Greek? I did take two years of it at varsity, but the less said about that, the better. We weren't even required to place the accents correctly in writing, never mind pronounce anything -- correctly or otherwise!
Comment by Ann Martin on February 8, 2008 at 2:32pm
salvete omnes! I like to talk Latin because it's fun and makes me use Latin and experience it in real time, and -- as Raphaela says -- because it's a language! My confidence has increased greatly since I joined the Circulus Latinus Interretialis and have talked to people in many countries, and (as Laura says) with many different pronunciation styles. I try to talk it with students a lot to make them more active in their acquisition, to give chances for little minidramas, and for fun. I don't hassle them about errors because I want them to produce meaningful communication, gradually perfecting it. i do want to pronounce as close to the classical as i can reasonably get because I want to roll the poetry around on my tongue. I think it IS possible to get a feel for the classical scansion patterns.
ut valeatis!
Comment by Latinum Institute on February 19, 2008 at 3:52pm
Actually, Latinum in the lead-in was completely re-recorded several months ago. The earlier lead in sequence used an anglicised pronunciation. You have mentioned the one and only issue, which has been erased from almost every episode of the podcast, as the old lead-in is no longer used. Every episode was peer reviewed. Many were re-recorded because of an incorrect quantity.

I have it on very good authority that my pronunciation on Latinum is generally excellent.

I am extremely punctilious, and mark out the texts precisely before recording. Over time, my fluency and accuracy increase, there is the occasional false quantity, but these are few and far between.
Comment by Raphaela on February 20, 2008 at 3:00am
Evan: It's great to know the "Látinum" issue has been corrected, but I'm afraid that at the time I was following the podcasts it was not the only one; I wouldn't have posted the above comment at all if it had been. I no longer have the files on my hard disk, but just as an example, I remember a sequence of little English verses explaining Latin vocab ("lactuca is lettuce"; that sort of thing -- is the text online anywhere, by any chance?) in which I detected quite a number of incorrectly placed stresses. As some of the vocab in question was completely unfamiliar to me, I was only alerted to those errors at all by the fact that in some cases they conflicted with the scansion of the verse, and when I looked them up in Lewis & Short the quantities given there confirmed that the stress should have been on a different syllable.

That said, I wholeheartedly applaud your thoroughness, in getting peer-review and rerecording episodes to eliminate such errors, and it's good to know that my comment as posted earlier in this thread is probably no longer applicable. :)
Comment by Latinum Institute on February 20, 2008 at 4:18am
Hello Raphaela,
The Adler materials on Latinum have been produced with great care for the stresses and vowel lengths being placed correctly, as this is the spoken Latin part of the course. Adler is the focus of the podcast.

The English verses of Coleridge, being written to rhyme with the "English pronunciation" of Latin, are pronounced accordingly, English stress patterns and 'wrong' vowel quantities included. Not the best for learning classical pronunciation, however, the verses are in early 1800's English, not Latin, and are presented as a historical curiosity that will help a few people learn vocabulary in a more entertaining way. I will write a short note regarding this on the FAQ.

So, your comment regarding those poems stands. I don't regard that issue as too important, but at some point when I have finished Adler, I will revisit some of the very early material that still lurks around on Latinum. I know some of the old lead- in sequences with shortish i Latinum still exist.
Comment by Laura Gibbs on February 20, 2008 at 7:25am
Personally, I don't have a problem myself with old-style English pronunciation: just think of all the great English authors for whom that WAS Latin. As long as people are consistent and represent what they are doing consistently, there is a value also in understanding how Latin was indeed pronounced by all those folks in England for such a very long time indeed. I would warmly recommend the old version of Goodbye Mr. Chips to everyone - the first of the film versions, starring Robert Donat. There is a headmaster in there who wants to reform the Latin pronunciation, against which Mr. Chips resists mightily (although finally gives in). You can see that some of the jokes with his students depend on terrible puns based on the old English style of pronunciation - anyway, the movie is a real charmer. The most recent version (starring Martin Clunes) is also good, but since school Latin culture has so much delined in the meantime, it's the old version with Robert Donat that you want for the old Latin. :-)
Comment by Ann Martin on February 20, 2008 at 7:37am
I actually matriculated at Oxford (1969!) under the old English style ... I recall being bashed gently on the head by a Book of Common Prayer while the person bashing (?Vice-Chancellor) said the "in nomine patris ...." ending SPY-ritus SANCTeye. And all the old names of the parts of the Daily Office, such as the Te Deum, still have that old pronunciation. (I'm surprised about the PRIUS car, which I have, being pronounced in a classical way, not PRY-us.) My father was a great stickler for using that English pronunciation when one was speaking English, and insisted on saying VYE-EH (English long A at the end) for VIA (long A since it was an ablative!). He also hated the pronunciation "Ju-DAY-o-Christian" instead of "Ju-DEE-o-Christian."


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