Friday, May 2, 2008

Learning Latin

Latin was the language of the scholarly world for a very long time, and many medieval manuscripts are written in Latin. If you’re interested in learning to read Latin on any level, you might like these web sites.

I. Oxford Latin Course: Latin Links
Cornell College provides a wide variety of online exercises for learning Classical Latin, from flash-cards and derivative lists to trivia and easy-reading texts. This site has a well-organized set of online resources that are useful for teaching yourself Latin on any level.

II. Latin for Mountain Men
From professor emeritus of engineering Dr. James B. Calvert, here is a self-professed “short course in practical Latin”; or, as he titles it, “Latin for Mountain Men (and Women)”. Written in a conversational style, this tutorial provides a minimum of memorization activities.

III. Lacus Curtius: Latin Inscriptions
On this site is recorded a number of Roman and Etruscan inscriptions in Latin. If you’d like to try them, there are tutorials (levels easy, medium, and hard) to help you decipher these inscriptions. This site is run by a professor, but one who only studies epigraphy as a hobby, so it isn’t professional even though it does have good tutorials for beginners.

IV. Latin News & Audio Files
Ever wanted to hear Latin spoken? YLE Radio 1: Nuntii Latini, based in Finland, provides a weekly broadcast of international news in Classical Latin. You can also find their podcast on iTunes. Statio Radiophonica Vaticana, the radio station of the Vatican city, also hosts a news service that provides .mp3 and Real Player clips. Based in the German city of Bremen, Radio Bremen hosts a world news service in Latin that also includes video clips.

V. Beginner’s Latin and Advanced Latin
The UK National Archives has two tutorials set up on their site geared to help viewers read charters, wills, and other legal documents in medieval Latin. Medieval Latin differs from Classical Latin and can be a challenge to those who have begun to learn Classical Latin. However, the “Beginner’s Latin” tutorial is a good introduction to studying Latin and will help familiarize you with the language on a broad scale. Plus, you get to start translating real documents right away!

VI. Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges
Once an old-fashioned paper-and-ink edition, Allen & Greenough’s book on Latin grammar has been put online at the Perseus Digital Library of Tufts University. This book is an excellent resource and a solid academic reference.

VII. The Latinitas Foundation
This is on the Vatican website and promotes the use and study of Latin by a variety of means. Included are a competition for Latin poetry and prose, a scholarly journal that publishes articles in Latin, a lexicon of neologisms (yes, there are words for"mini-golf" and "basket-ball" in Latin!), and other learning opportunities. Though focused on a more advanced Latin student, this site is nevertheless a fascinating display of Latin used by our contemporaries.

VIII. Latinitas Viva: Discovering Live Latin
Not being able to find a "who we are" or "contact" page, I won't vouch for the scholarly nature of the webpage save to note that it has links to programs that encourage the learning of Latin that I do not include on the rest of the website but are nevertheless quite valuable. This website, too, hosts a world news page in Latin called Ephemeris, which also publishes to the internet a wide variety of interesting things, including the stories of Sherlock Holmes . . . also in Latin!

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