Monday, April 28, 2008

errata novi discipuli linguae Latinae

The errors of a new student of Latin.

At LatinLanguage, Chris Jones explains a the problems with instructional approaches which rely on cognates to teach new students of Latin vocabulary. He writes:

I’ve mentioned before that I wish students were encouraged to look at vocabulary the way the Romans did, i.e. as words formed from more basic forms in the same language…A common tendency when studying Latin vocabulary is to emphasize similar derivative English words, i.e. by talking about derivatives like “exacerbate", the student is more likely to remember the meaning of exacerbo…The problem with this approach is that exacerbo does not quite mean “exacerbate", which American Heritage defines as “To increase the severity, violence, or bitterness of; aggravate". To be specific, “exacerbate” is almost exclusively used with things, i.e. people aren’t usually “exacerbated” (though they can be “exasperated"). Contast this with Latin, where exacerbo is most often used with people; that’s why this verb is usually defined as “irritate, enrage, provoke"...

Certainly go and read the whole thing. It’s interesting throughout, and functions effectively both as a caveat to new students and a reminder to the more experienced that they too can be prone to thinking in this way.

And begin to get excited. I was fortunate enough to attend a fascinating lecture by Richard Talbert entitled “Reconsidering Peutinger’s Map,” and will be posting some of the highlights in the next few days. Familiarize with the Wiki’s key points; it adds to the fun when he easily dismantles most of them. More background can be found here and here.

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Shelly said...

You are way too demanding in your posts! I think you need to relax with the "GO READ THIS NOW OR ELSE!" tone of the blog. Brett never tries to force his readers into anything!