Can you read easily Latin texts without much external help or using dictionary?
If you find that you often need to check up a dictionary when you are reading even simple texts in Latin, keep reading!
Reading latin texts easily, especially those that are basic from the point of view of their grammar and vocabulary, without getting ourselves stuck constantly, should be a norm for anyone who is learning a language even at an intermediate level. However, my experience tells me that my students always struggle with this when they have been learning through grammar and translation methods. For an example to illustrate what I mean, look at this simple text from Phaedrus «Fabellae Novae»:Canis per Fluvium Carnem Ferens
Now, if you are an intermediate student, you may find some difficulties with some of the words. «Ferret», for instance, is a subjunctive from «fero»: unless you already have worked with this tense, you will find it difficult to know the meaning of that sentence. Same goes for «decepta»: if you have not yet worked with past participles, then this will mean a bit of a trouble for you: identifying that it goes with «aviditas» can be tricky. But even so, there are some chances that you would be able to relate those two words to their right stems: «fero» and «decipio»,…. if your Latin training involves working with vocabulary, that is!
If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you will know that I often publish about frequency vocabulary as a key thing to achieve reading fluency. And there should be no wonder as to why: in the field of teaching Latin, we teachers often have got mixed up with learning Latin as opposed to learning Latin grammar: they both are not the same thing. If you have been working on your Latin for quite a while already, but you still find that some of the words in that short story are giving you trouble, then you probably have suffered from this. Just an example: you should really not find many problems when identifying words such as:
-praedam: «booty» or «spolis»
-ore: from «os, oris», «mouth».
-peto: «to seek», «to look for», «to ask (for)»
If you do find trouble remembering or just identifying these words, then, that means that you need to start working on builiding up your vocabulary! Not just high frequency vocabulary will help you to this, but in fact, understanding the process by which words are formed in Latin (mostly, how derivation works, and a basic knowledge of roots and suffixes). In the text, for instance, if only you know the value of the prepositions «ad», «ab», and the preverb «dis» in compounds, then you can work together with the following lexical family:
peto > adpeto (both of them in the text).
mito > amitto/dimitto («dimisit», in the text).
-amittit (from ab – mitto), «send out from/ dismiss»
Another instance of how composition helps you is : alius > alienum (again, both of them are present within the same text).
As you can see, it´s not a matter of doing a huge effort in learning Latin vocabulary, but rather of working efficiently and intelligently in this area!
For that reason, if you identify yourself with the problems I described above , I would urge you to start re-thinking the way you approach this problem! Would you like to know more about how you can improve your Latin vocabulary? I am putting a course for just that reason! Make sure that you reach me at: email@example.com.
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