Latin IS English!

October 6, 2008

“Let the Vocabulary Bell RING!”

As a Latin student begins to make progress through the five (5) Latin noun declensions, he or she will soon begin to notice—maybe with some degree of consternation—that there are some noun endings that repeat themselves in different “cases” even within the same declension (e.g, the -ae ending used in three different locations [cases] within the 1st declension).  As well, there may be repetition of the same case ending from one declension to the next, even involving different genders and different cases (e.g., the -ī ending that occurs as twice within the 2nd declension masculine [genitive sing. and nom. pl.] and once in the neuter [genitive sing.], and then again in the 3rd declension as a dative singular).  Even the 2nd declension -us masculine nominative singular ending is repeated elsewhere—four times—within the 4th declension noun structures!

But, do not fear and tremble unnecessarily, even over something as seemingly ominous as this!  “Let the vocabulary bell ring inside your head:  when you think about how you first wrote, saw, and said the original form of the word, it will help significantly in directing your brain (the most sophisticated “computer” on the planet) first to the appropriate declension, and then to the appropriate case usage for the context which you are observing.

So, remember:  “Let the vocabulary bell RING!”


Interested in taking a “live, interactive” online Latin class?  Take the POLL here!

July 31, 2008

“You ain’t nothin’ but a noun dog, declining all the time!” . . . OR . . . “The ‘Satellite View’ of the 5 Latin Noun Declensions”

The Latin Nouns Declensions chart below (also available here as a downloadable PowerPoint presentation), details the 5 declensions of Latin nouns with their respective “genders” that the Latin student will encounter. I know of no other paradigm in existence that condenses—in this fashion—all of these case endings into a single, concise chart of all Latin noun declensions. I call it the “satellite view” of all Latin noun endings. Apart from this, the value of this particular chart is found mainly in the horizontal relationships existing between nouns that can be clearly seen in this layout. Assisting in the memorization of these endings are the use of arrows showing either identical or similar continuity, and yellow highlights denoting 3rd declension stem qualities. Click here to view the JPEG image, then right click the image to download.

Interested in taking a “live, interactive” online Latin class?  Take the POLL here!

May 28, 2008

Wermuth’s “Famous Quotes & Memory Joggers”

Here is an initial listing of classroom teaching quotes or “memory joggers” that are helpful over the entire course of Latin language study. I will add to this list from time to time, and I will also post revised PDF versions of it on the sidebar (opposite).

  1. Always study vocabulary and grammatical structures first before translating exercises.
  2. Make your own vocabulary cards. Write the Latin word not only on the front of the card, but also on the back of the card just above the definition.  This will instill in you a “conditioned” remembrance between the Latin word and its English meaning.  You may also want to include the “conjugation” (if a verb) or the “declension” (if a noun) from which the word originates.
  3. Neuter Latin nouns always repeat their Nominative endings in the Accusative (singular and plural, respectively).
  4. The Latin declined ending “ī” shows up in two declensions (2nd and 3rd) and in three different cases:  Genitive singular (2nd declension masc. & neuter), Nominative plural (2nd declension masc.), and Dative singular (3rd declension, all genders).  Look at the declensions side by side and you’ll readily notice this.  (Of course, what declension the word originates in plus the sentence’s context will help the reader determine which case is occurring.)
  5. The main characteristic (irregularity) of  a 3rd Declension Latin noun is that its true stem does not appear within the vocabulary word (Nom. sing.) itself, but first reveals itself within the Genitive singular form.  (Example:  lex, legis . . .)
  6. When translating Latin sentences, identify and translate in the following order whenever possible: (1) Subject (Nominative case), then (2) Verb, and (3) Direct Object (Accusative case).
  7. “Stick to your cases!” (when translating Latin sentences)
  8. Q. When you can’t find a subject (Nominative) noun or an adjective functioning as the subject (Nominative “substantive”) of the sentence, where can you always still locate the subject of a Latin sentence?  A. Hanging off the end of the verbal form (i.e., the personal ending) as the subject of the verb and also of the entire sentence!
  9. Don’t be intimidated by grammatical terminology.  For example, “transitive” verbs (Lat. trans = across, over) are verbs that have “action” (i.e. they’re “moving” toward an object).  As a result, we have the “direct object,” which receives the action of these verbs of motion.  Or, as one of my students brilliantly (and simply) stated:  “The subject ‘verbs’ the object.”
  10. Remember, transitive Latin verbs most often are positioned at the end of the sentence (or individual clauses within the sentence).
  11. 1st Conjugation Latin verbs are also known as “a-stems.”  In the 1st person singular, the “a” of the stem is swallowed up by the personal ending “o” (kind of like Jonah inside the whale; he’s there . . . you just can’t see him!)
  12. 2nd Conjugation Latin verbs could very well be termed “e-stems.”
  13. 3rd Conjugation Latin verbs (e.g., mitto, mittis, mittit, mittimus, mittitis, mittunt) present a thematic “i” in their Present Indicative stems, except in the 1st person singular and 3rd person plural. In this respect, they could be called “i-stems.”
  14. The “tense sign” indicator for all conjugations of Imperfect tense Latin Indicative verbs is -ba-.
  15. The “tense sign” indicator for Future tense Latin 1st & 2nd Conjugation Indicative verbs is -bi-.
  16. The “tense sign” indicator for Future tense Latin 3rd & 4th Conjugation Indicative verbs is a thematic “e,”  except for the 1st person singular, where it is an “a.”
  17. Remember:  All  Latin Indicative mode verb tenses except one (the Perfect tense) utilize  the Latin verb endings:    -[or] -m ,  -s,  -t,  -mus,  -tis, -nt in their formation.   Meanwhile, the Perfect Active Indicative utilizes the following endings:  -i,  -isti,  -it,  -imus,  -istis,  -erunt.
  18. There is a significance to the Latin word order within a sentence.  Words at the beginning and end—Subject and Verb, respectively—obviously have prominence. For example, “Genitive” case words (showing possession or description), when moved in front of a word instead of their normal position following the word, signify greater emphasis.  So: “Deus, Pater hominum . . .” ( = “God, the Father of men . . . ”) would be even stronger written “Deus, hominum Pater . . .”

Interested in taking a “live, interactive” online Latin class?  Take the POLL here!

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