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Romanes eunt domus?

I’ve been learning Latin for the past five months and I’m enjoying every moment of it. Don’t ask me to say anything, because I barely can on request. With help from my partner (she went to a fancy school and knows it already), I’m learning from the Cambridge Latin Course, which is fantastic. The way it builds up your understanding of the language in the context of a family in ancient world (Pompeii) is effective, and marvellous fun. The first book concerns itself mainly with simple translations at the moment, copying sentences out, finding the right verb/noun/tense and so on. Apparently in future books, there’s more going from converting English into Latin, but overall I’m finding it much better than memorising declensions right off the bat. And certainly better than the above…

What’s impressed me the most about learning Latin, however, is how it helps you understand the structure of language, even in English. You start looking at the way words fall on the page in completely different ways. It’s not the reason I wanted to learn it, but it’s certainly a fascinating afterthought. The main thing, however, is that it’s simply nice to be learning another language – even a dead one.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

8 replies on “Romanes eunt domus?”

Have fun with that 🙂
I had to pass a certified Latin exam to make my master/magister in history at the university, like you I started from scratch and it took me over 18 months to prepare for that. We read, translated and interpreted the works of Cicero and Seneca, which was quite fun after getting over the first basic barrier of declension, participles, the free word order and such.

Imo it is amazing how your perception of your native and second languages changes once you know some Latin. And talk about shared vocabulary of the european languages, especially the english words which can be easily traced back to Latin !

Hi Sebert,

I know precisely what you mean about that first basic barrier. I think I got over that last month and, ever since, I’ve had a far greater thirst for learning more words and structures. 

And yes – when you see the origins of contemporary words, it’s amazing to see just how long they’ve been in use and have spread. 

I took Latin at school, in good old family tradition. My grandfather was a teacher for Latin and Ancient Greek and actually spoke both languages (I never got that far). When he ended up in an American POW in Italy during WW2, he met an officer there who was a lover of Ancient history and languages as well, and they conversed in Latin, my granfather not having much English. The friendship between them was forbidden from both sides, yet they maintained it into more relaxed times until my grandfather’s death. They kept writing letters in Latin.

Hi Gabriele,

What a lovely story – thanks for sharing it. And it’s amazing that they still conversed in Latin. You win the Internet tonight!

Do you know how one found out that the other spoke Latin?

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