How hard to learn Latin?

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: How hard to learn Latin?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » October 25th, 2015, 8:27 am

Wheelock is often the choice for self learners. There are a huge number of resources out there to support Latin, including the Latin Study List, a traditional list serve where people study together through not only beginning texts, but also various authors.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Louis L Sorenson
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Re: How hard to learn Latin?

Post by Louis L Sorenson » October 25th, 2015, 12:34 pm

Barry wrote
I found beginning Greek more difficult than beginning Latin, but I found reading "real" Latin literature more difficult than Greek. Why? Latin, particularly Classical, is a relatively word poor language, so that individual lexical items tend have a wide semantic range. This can make it difficult, at times, to narrow down precisely what an author intends, especially if the the context is somewhat ambiguous.
I've read that Latin in the B.C. period did not have the vocabulary to talk about things like disease, philosophy and other abstract science and intellectual content.Latin eventually borrowed terms from Greek and/or made up new words to compensate. In the interim, the ancient Romans used Greek to talk about those sort of things. I wish I could remember where I read this.

In a way, Greek is also hard in that aspect of individual lexical items tending have a wide semantic range. Greek has fewer words for the more basic content that other language. For more on this read Major's article It’s Not the Size, It’s the Frequency: The Value of Using a Core Vocabulary in Beginning and Intermediate Greek. https://camws.org/cpl/cplonline/files/M ... online.pdf
Whereas an English 50% list consists of more than a hundred lemmas, which is normal enough for languages, a comparable Greek list contains about 65 (the exact number can vary depending on whether some items are grouped together as a single lemma or separated as distinct lemmas).

Louis L Sorenson
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Re: How hard to learn Latin?

Post by Louis L Sorenson » October 25th, 2015, 12:36 pm

In the US, the University of Kentucky teaches Latin as a living language - or at least has conversational seminars See
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: How hard to learn Latin?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » October 26th, 2015, 8:50 am

Louis L Sorenson wrote: I've read that Latin in the B.C. period did not have the vocabulary to talk about things like disease, philosophy and other abstract science and intellectual content.Latin eventually borrowed terms from Greek and/or made up new words to compensate. In the interim, the ancient Romans used Greek to talk about those sort of things. I wish I could remember where I read this.

In a way, Greek is also hard in that aspect of individual lexical items tending have a wide semantic range. Greek has fewer words for the more basic content that other language. For more on this read Major's article It’s Not the Size, It’s the Frequency: The Value of Using a Core Vocabulary in Beginning and Intermediate Greek. https://camws.org/cpl/cplonline/files/M ... online.pdf
Whereas an English 50% list consists of more than a hundred lemmas, which is normal enough for languages, a comparable Greek list contains about 65 (the exact number can vary depending on whether some items are grouped together as a single lemma or separated as distinct lemmas).
This is generally correct. It's not that Latin didn't have the vocabulary to talk about such things, it's that in the early period they had no concept of certain subjects, particularly philosophy, but when introduced to Greek literature, that quickly changed. As often happens in such circumstances, the Romans tended to borrow words instead of coin new ones, and there was no "Collegium Latinae Linguae" interested in a puristic form of the language comparable to L'Alliance Francaise. Cicero introduced quite a bit through his paraphrases of various Greek writings, though he surely represented a trend (It's just that more of his writings survive than others). As to your second observation, sure -- every language has a "core" vocabulary in which the words tend to have a wide semantic range. What Greek developed earlier than Latin was a lot of technical vocabulary to talk about certain major ideas and philosophies as they developed. Latin developed this largely by borrowing from the Greeks, although occasionally they used Latin equivalents. The best thing to do with either Latin or Greek is start reading as much as possible as soon as you get the basics down, and vocabulary tends to take care of itself.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Shirley Rollinson
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Re: How hard to learn Latin?

Post by Shirley Rollinson » October 26th, 2015, 5:24 pm

Chris Servanti wrote:So for self study, where would you suggest I start? I have a curriculum, but i tries not to touch the grammar, which quite honestly is one of the most fun parts for me.
I can recommend the Cambridge Latin Course - I use it in conjunction with Wheelock for my classes - Wheelock for the grammar, the Cambridge course for an interesting story line, fluency in reading, and insights into Roman life and customs.
Shirley Rollinson

ALBERTCHRISTOPHER
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Re: How hard to learn Latin?

Post by ALBERTCHRISTOPHER » May 10th, 2016, 10:17 am

I enetered the forum a few days ago. So, that's why i have found your questions right now. To be honest, Latin in comparison with ancient Greek or so called koine Greek is extraordinally easy, especially for people speaking western languages, where there are a lot of grammatical construction similar or identical to those ocurring in Latin.
In turn, ancient Greek is easier to aquire for people of slavic languages, for example for me: Pole, as in slavic languages there are a lot of aspects occurring in ancient Greek.

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: How hard to learn Latin?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » May 11th, 2016, 1:27 pm

ALBERTCHRISTOPHER wrote:I enetered the forum a few days ago. So, that's why i have found your questions right now. To be honest, Latin in comparison with ancient Greek or so called koine Greek is extraordinally easy, especially for people speaking western languages, where there are a lot of grammatical construction similar or identical to those ocurring in Latin.
In turn, ancient Greek is easier to aquire for people of slavic languages, for example for me: Pole, as in slavic languages there are a lot of aspects occurring in ancient Greek.
For most native English speakers, there is some initial difficulty in figuring out how an inflected language really works. Once that hurdle is overcome, Latin at the beginning level is fairly easy. The difficulty comes when they begin to read real authors who don't use the language in quite the precisely defined ways that their beginning texts like to present.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

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