Saturday, February 21, 2009

Latin Immersion

The other day, in a comment at Aspiring Polyglot, Unzum of SoYouWantToLearnALanguage, noted some under-appreciated podcasts. One of them was the Latinum podcast. I'd seen this podcast listed at Unzum's site before, but hadn't gone to visit.

What a wealth of stuff! The core of the Latinum podcasts is an audio version of a Latin textbook by Adler designed to teach conversational Latin. In addition, there are Latin stories, poems, etc. Yes, the site can be a bit tricky to navigate, and mypodcast.com can run a little slow sometimes. But it's worth the trouble for the gems to be found.

The creator of Latinum says you need 2 hours a day for 3 years - at a minimum! - to become fluent in Latin. That could be a bit discouraging unless there is some really important long term reason for you to speak Latin fluently. Of course, there is one reason to speak Latin fluently - so that you can read the classics with a Roman ear. Learning enough Latin to decipher Ovid and Vergil may open you up to the greatness of their craft and the versatility of Latin, but it won't move you. It's more like understanding the humor of a joke after it's been explained to you. You may enjoy it and even retell it for its cleverness, but your experience of it won't include the shock of spontaneous discovery.

One of the features of the podcasts is lessons where Latin phrases are introduced interspersed with either French or German translation. It's a bit odd, but a nice brushup for a polyglot. What's best, however, is that this program, by extended listening, causes Latin to seep into your brain. The first lesson includes a lot of question forms. While I've looked at Latin off and on for years, I never really got the hang of things like tacking a "ne" on the verb to form a question. After 45 minutes listening, the "habesne"s and "estne"s come almost as easily as tossing est-ce que onto the front of a question in French.

If you're serious about knowing Latin, not just knowing about it, be sure to check this out.

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