Latin language resources for the rusty
November 30, 2020 5:55 AM   Subscribe

What's new in classics? What are your tried and true recommendations for Latin study for the experienced but rusty?

I have several years of Latin study under my belt, including several semesters at the university level. I have experience with translation, including formal coursework, as well as an undergraduate degree in linguistics, but it has been years now since I practiced Latin regularly. My current job is unrewarding (cf. "linguistics degree"), and I want to get back into immersive reading in Latin! How do I do it? Is Wheelock's still regarded as a good starting point? I've also used both the Ecce Romani and Cambridge Latin Course curricula, but I'm not sure if I need to go all the way back to the beginning.
posted by easy, lucky, free to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have a similar background and am also considering brushing up, and I'll be watching this question eagerly for advice!

Cambridge would be a great place to start. It should go quickly as a refresher. After that, maybe consider translating Catullus with a good Latin dictionary by your side - I recall Catullus being more accessible than the epics.

Best of luck!
posted by aquamvidam at 6:23 AM on November 30, 2020


Best answer: I would perhaps suggest starting with a Catullus or Cicero translation first, to see if the old instincts come back and unstick the gears. I have a similar amount of experience to you and occasionally decide it would be fun to translate something again. The basics (unus nauta agricolam amat &c) are all there, it just takes a bit for my syntactic unscrambling ability and vocab knowledge to return.

Tufts' Perseus Hopper has nice versions of the text (here: Catullus 1) in which you can click on any word and be taken to the dictionary page with options to see the word's entry in the Lewis & Short dictionary. The dictionary page will also automatically tell you the case/conjugation of the word if you need help, though in my experience that was kind of a hindrance to forming better intuition.

Note also the sidebar which offers a few English translations, a vocabulary tool, and some commentary notes.
posted by Maecenas at 7:11 AM on November 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


Best answer: There's a Duolingo Latin course. I haven't personally played with it, since my Latin is still strong enough to skim with, but it might be a good source of gamified review. Duolingo is always good for drill and bad for grammar explanations, so keeping Wheelock handy and consulting it whenever you're confused by a Duolingo choice might make the best of both worlds.

I second the suggestion of picking a text on Perseus and diving in. I've managed that with classical Greek, where I'm far rustier, at the rate of half a sentence at a time. If you'd prefer a bit more scaffolding, the UT Austin Linguistics Research Center has introductory lessons in all sorts of Indo-European languages, including Latin.
posted by yarntheory at 8:54 AM on November 30, 2020


I'm keeping an eye on this thread as well - I just went down the internet rabbit hole and revisited the Oxford Latin Course that I used in college. Oh, that mean old Flaccus, always messing with Quintus' good dog Argus!! Caudex! I ad corvus, furcifer!!
posted by Gray Duck at 10:04 AM on November 30, 2020


Best answer: These readers from Focus/Hackett Publishing are great for someone who already has some Latin and wants to improve reading fluency. The text is glossed in Latin and has helpful marginalia to help make sense of the meaning. I'm told this follows the "inductive method."

For something more like you did in school, but perhaps more pedagogically sound, try "Learn Latin from the Romans" by Eleanor Dickey.
posted by Schielisque at 11:50 AM on November 30, 2020


Best answer: Rather than going all the way back to the beginning of CLC* or Ecce (or Iuppiter prohibuisset, Wheelock) you might enjoy some of the novellas that are around for extensive reading. The level (and correctness of the Latin) vary, but they are generally reasonably engaging. They are all designed to let you simply read along with good comprehension, which helps you acquire (or in this case, refresh) language as you read.

Lance Piantaginni has a pretty complete list with descriptions of novellas here; Dan Conway also has a great site with information about them. I'm happy to offer specific recommendations privately.

If none of those appeal, or you want to do something more authentic/higher level, I highly recommend picking a text you want to read that has a *good* student edition -- one with facing vocab and notes, preferably. (Geoffrey Steadman's editions are awesome, and freely available online with the option to buy print on demand versions, but there are lots and lots of others, too.). It is so much easier to read extensively when you aren't struggling with unfamiliar words or super-tricky grammatical constructions or completely unfamiliar cultural references, and a good student edition will support you past all that. I'd recommend specific authors/texts, but this is so much a 'your mileage may vary' thing with what appeals or will motivate you that it's hard to!

*I mean, I love CLC and go through its stories multiple times a year as a teacher, but not everyone wants to do that!
posted by lysimache at 12:27 PM on November 30, 2020


Best answer: What's new is the explosion of internet resources supporting spoken Latin. True fluency comes from hearing, speaking and thinking in the language, even if all you want to do is read Cicero.

Amazing resources include:
1. Hans Orberg's groundbreaking series Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata (LLPSI) now has a massive ecosystem. Start with the book and audio
2. reddit/r/latin has a nice "getting started with LLPSI" document
3. Luke Ranieri (ScorpioMartianus) on Youtube and Patreon, and also Latinitium on Youtube
4. Online intensive courses, the best of which is from Academia Vivarium Novum (geared towards instructors and the very serious amateur)
posted by dum spiro spero at 12:34 PM on November 30, 2020 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Kennedy's Revised Latin Primer would be a great purchase. It's a clear, crisp grammar handbook that makes an ideal companion when you've forgotten which verbs are irregular or what a perfect passive participle looks like. I kept a copy on my desk from the age of nine until I finished my Masters.
posted by guessthis at 1:40 PM on November 30, 2020


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