Lingua Critic - Latin


Language Reviews














Latin or sometimes Roman is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. Although often considered a dead language, in view of the fact that it has no native speakers, a small number of scholars can fluently speak it and it continues to be taught in schools and universities and has been, and currently is, used in the process of new word production in modern languages from many different families, including English. Latin and its daughter Romance languages are the only surviving branch of the Italic language family. Other branches, known as Italic languages, are attested in documents surviving from early Italy, but were assimilated during the Roman Republic. The one possible exception is Venetic, the language of the people who settled Venetia, who in Roman times spoke their language in parallel with Latin

The extensive use of elements from vernacular speech by the earliest authors and inscriptions of the Roman Republic make it clear that the original, unwritten language of the Roman Monarchy, was a colloquial form only partly reconstructable, called Vulgar Latin. By the late Roman Republic literate persons mainly at Rome had created a standard form from the spoken language of the educated and empowered, now called Classical Latin, then called simply Latin or Latinity. The term Vulgar Latin came to mean the various dialects of the citizenry. With the Roman conquest, Latin spread to countries around the Mediterranean, and the vernacular dialects spoken in these areas developed into the Romance languages, including Aragonese, Catalan, Corsican, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Sardinian, and Spanish. Classical Latin, however, continued to develop after the fall of the Roman Empire and through the Middle Ages, and was used as the language of international communication, scholarship and science until the 18th century, when it was supplanted by vernacular languages.
Latin is a highly inflected language, with three distinct genders, seven noun cases, four verb conjugations, six tenses, six persons, three moods, two voices, two aspects and a distinction between singular and plural number. A dual number is rare and archaic. One of the seven cases is the locative case, generally only used with place nouns. The vocative is nearly identical to the nominative. There are only five fully productive cases; accordingly, different authors list 5, 6 or 7 as the number of cases. Adjectives and adverbs are compared, and adjectives are inflected for case, gender, and number. Although Latin has demonstrative pronouns indicating varying degree of closeness, it lacks articles. Later Romance language articles developed from the demonstrative pronouns; e.g., le and la from ille and illa. Romance languages were created by simplification of this inflectional complexity in various ways; e.g., uninflected Italian "oggi" ("today") from the Latin ablative case, hoc die..

Due to the increasing popularity of Latin and The Classics we have enlisted the help of a Classics graduate from Cambridge to help us evaluate the courses available for this language.


Get Started in Latin( by G D Sharpley) 
This book is the best introduction for absolute beginners of Latin. It is a simple idea of pursuing the basics via a story based in medieval times. The story itself is quite humorous with a lot of suspense and this helps keep your attention and to learn the grammar points. There are many exercises designed to test your knowledge and the great thing about this book is that it is progressive so you can feel achievement and advancement which is so often lacking in other language courses. If you want to learn the basics this is the book to have.

The course comes with  two CD's for pronunciation support. George Sharpley is a renowned teacher of Latin and has written several books aimed at beginners.

This is the latest version of the course and the previous version, here will allow you to see the reviews left by others


So You Really Want to Learn Latin( by N Oulton and I Douglass) 
This brings back memories for me when I studied Latin at school for GCSE. These text books cover all the technical grammar terms in a simple way and provide a good history. You are shown the regular verbs in all six active tenses and nouns of the first three declensions. There are another two books in the series which cover everything else and if you are really keen there are activity and answer books to help consolidate your learning. These are all you need for an easy A at GCSE. Incidentally this set is also recommended by the Daily Telegraph.

Teach Yourself Latin ( by Gavin Betts)
This book is an ideal follow on from the Get Started in Latin by George Sharpley. Although the book infers it is aimed at beginners, I can say that as a student of Latin for some years it packs in a huge amount for one course! There are over 400 pages of exercises, explanations and grammar points. There is also a 42 page Latin-English vocabulary list. As a complete beginner you may struggle with this but if you have already done the basics then this will really boost your fluency.

Rosetta Stone 
Although my colleagues on this site tend to give Rosetta Stone a mediocre review, I would have to say that certainly the Latin course was hugely enjoyable for me. I loved the word and picture associations of the learning (I have never used Rosetta Stone before). It is certainly expensive but for Latin it is very comprehensive and you  learn in a very similar way to the way of learning your own language. The sentences and structures are built up slowly maybe changing only one or two words to start with so you understand before changing into longer and more fluent (real life) sentences. Another great feature is the audio companion allowing you to study through your MP3 or Ipod while on the move. Please note this is version 3 and you need to check compatibility with your computer.

Latin Demystified ( by Richard Prior) 
The "Demystified" books are one of the few book classes that really do what they say, i.e. Demystify! It does a great job with Latin because it is a difficult language and its better if you can avoid a lot of the fluff and technical explanations that really only ever boil down to a few words. This book will be of benefit to both beginners and more advanced students. It goes fully into the Noun Declensions and all the verb tenses with quizzes at the end of each chapter to reinforce learning. Maybe could have done with audio support but nevertheless it does Demystify Latin extremely well.

Latin Verb Tenses ( by Richard Prior) 
Richard Prior is a great author of academic Latin books. Apart from a passionate, interest in Deer, he has advanced knowledge of Latin and knows how to present the nuts and bolts of it to students. The Latin Verb Tenses book will really test your understanding of verbs and includes challenging questions that you will have to think about! Don't worry though because the answers are all included at the rear of the book. This is essential for revision purposes and as a refresher. For more practice with the verbs I would recommend another of his books Latin Verb Drills
Recommended Study

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