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Implementing Latin text messaging as a pedagogical tool

Implementing Latin text messaging as a pedagogical tool

Version 1.3 ______________________________________________

SMS messaging using the predictive text input of the T9 dictionary that exists on many models of cell phone/mobile phone has the potential to be a very powerful learning tool:

Writing words out into the mobile phone has the advantage of not being mindless repetition for the sake of learning – the student is also performing a task – programming their phone to write and spell Latin text.
How to implement this as a study tool:

Select the Spanish or, if you have it, the Italian T9 predictive text
dictionary. If you have neither, ask your mobile phone dealer to import the Italian T9 dictionary into your SIM card for you, this should be possible to do. Most of the roots of verbs are already in this dictionary, as are many other Latin words and roots.


1. Enter the terminations of the all the main conjugations for all the tenses and moods as separate words into the dictionary, or the terminations of those that the student knows how to use. More can be added later. Hickie’s grammar is very useful for this, as it lists its material analytically according to the terminations:



amini etc,
enter and save these terminations as separate words - some of these will be in the dictionary already.

2. Add some key verbs - but the stems only are needed. Most of these will already be in the Italian dictionary. It becomes very easy to rapidly expand the dictionary, as only the forms of the stem of a new verb need to be entered:

3. Type in all the forms of the verb 'to be' in full, and the terminations
of the irregular verbs in full with all their tenses and moods, and any highly irregular forms. Type in the participles in full if you want to. Only those tenses of verbs that have been learned need to be entered, although entering them all will speed up your language acquisition.

How to conjugate:

Use the phone's software to stitch onto the terminations to the roots:

i.e. am > andus

The program joins the two parts together as one word. How to do this: type the root, then the forward menu selection arrow and then the termination. This can also be used for words made of many grammatical units, e.g. prefix > root>termination>suffix or any such combination as required.

i.e. am > avi the program then writes out amavi in the message. am >abitur becomes amabitur, am> atus becomes amatus, etc.


Type in the terminations of the declensions, as separate words (most will already be in the predictive text)

Enter the ROOT of the noun into the dictionary. Many of these roots will be in the dictionary already. They can be added ‘as you go along’.

Write out the full word as two words, and let the program stitch the termination to the root:

mus> a.
mus >arum.

Enter all the common pronouns in full, as they are used often. The regularly inflected pronouns only need their roots entered.

Any irregular forms need their irregular parts to be entered in full.


Get a list of adverbs and type them in. Some will already be in Italian dictionary.


Type in the conjunctions


Add these.

Once you have done this, you will have the skeleton of Latin on your mobile phone. When you learn a new word, check your dictionary to see if the root exists in Italian. If not, add it.


To add a word rapidly to the dictionary, click the ‘wxyz9’ key twice. Then click the ‘*’ key, followed by the top left button, where the word ‘spell’ will have appeared. Spell the new word into the dictionary letter by letter, and save it.

This would be used when entering verb terminations, etc into the dictionary.

Alternatively, if you think the word may exist in Italian already, simply type it in. If it does not exist, the program will beep, and ‘spell’ will appear on the screen. Select it, spell the word in your text message, and save.

Words and two letters, and syllables or words of three letters do not need to be added, they are all already in the dictionary.

Remember to clear the text from your message as you type words in for saving into the dictionary every now and again, the system will only allow a certain number of words to be written into the message.

The following link explains how the T9 dictionary system works:


Next step: irritate your friends by texting them in Latin.

-Evan Millner , London, 2007

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