Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Moving day

I know I've neglected this blog quite a bit. Partly it's that I've been in school. Partly it's that 2013 was somewhere between eventful and ridiculous. In any case, this blog has been neglected. Never fear. I'm moving the whole works over to

Every scrap of content here will be there. All of it. But I'm also leaving everything here, here. I'll link over to the other site for all links.

Why? I think it will be better. Blogger has been a great host, but I want to take charge of this content all on my own. That is to say: it's mine and I want to be the one holding it. I also want to centralize some of my activity. While I'm not 100% certain that you'll want everything that will be on the other website, I think it will at least be interesting. So come on over and look at my first Help! post. Gesta Romanorum, ftw.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I'm a nice guy (trust me), but I can be very disorganized. I'm sure you can tell by glancing through the posts. So I'll help you out. I'm publishing an index. It's also on the top bar, right next to Hire Me (and you should).

Anyway, the index should help you sort through some of the topics I've talked about in the past.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Deponent verbs, part 4

It's quiz time. Go read up on parts one, two and three. Then take the quiz.

Viri togati in raedis vehuntur.

1. vehuntur: Passive or deponent?

Viri togati bracas non gerunt, quia eas verentur.

2. verentur: Passive or deponent?

Bracas evitare conantur.

3. conantur: Passive or deponent?

Viri togati et viri in bracis numquam amantur.

4. amantur: Passive or deponent?

Nam sandalibus non utuntur.

5. utuntur: Passive or deponent?

Ok, answer time. Highlight from here to 1) passive; 2) deponent; 3) deponent; 4) passive; 5) deponent here for the answers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Deponent verbs, part 3

So we looked at how to recognize a deponent verb in the dictionary and in reading. Now for a spanner in the works—as the Brits might say.

PUFFV verbs.

Last time I was very busy making the point that transitive deponent verbs will force you into the active voice because of the direct object, which is usually before the verb.
Iohannes canem veretur.       John fears the dog.
And this is really straightforward. Direct object? Yes. Passive-looking ending? Yes. Solution? Verb is active. The problem is that PUFFV verbs behave differently. They take ablative nouns as their compliments—the part we would make into the direct object in English. Here's an example:
Iohannes librō fruitur.        John enjoys the book.
Now compare it to this passive sentence, which is different only in the verb.
Iohannes librō docētur.      John is taught by the book.
See the problem? Structurally they are the same thing: Ablative noun and a -tur ending on the verb. So what's to be done? Sadly, this is a memory problem. You just need to learn that PUFFV verbs take ablative as their compliment. Which brings up the important point: which verbs are we talking about?
potior, potīrī, —, potītus sum — obtain, possess
ūtor, ūtī, —, ūsus sum — use
fruor, fruī, —, fructus sum — enjoy
fungor, fungī, —, fūnctus sum — perform, execute
vescor, vescī, —, vescus sum — eat
And there you have it. A class of deponent verbs that look like they are true passives due to sentence structure, but they aren't.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pronunciation of is, ea, id

If you were wondering how to pronounce this monster…

This is taken from my Via Latina project. I'll be releasing the first book of that in the spring of 2013—the website lies about spring of 2012.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A taste of Cicero

Here's another bit of unadapted Latin. The notes are aimed directly at intermediate students of Latin. It is meant to get you reading the real stuff for the first time. The pages shown are Cicero's de senectute chapters 6 through 9. They're short like Bible chapters.

To set the scene, Laelius and Scipio are talking to Cato the Elder about old age. Most of the dialog is Cato telling the younger men about old age, but it is set as a dialogue. For American readers, de senectute was the first classical text printed in translation in the American colonies. The printer was none other than Ben Franklin. Or at least that's what Wikipedia says.

Cicero has a bad rap for being hard, but de senectute doesn't feel all that hard to me. Maybe it is that it is meant to be a bit more conversational in nature than his oratory. Give your hand a try.
de senectute 6 and 9

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Deponent verbs, part 2

Last time we talked about how to recognize deponent verbs in the dictionary. This is not very useful if you're actually reading something.

And for the most part, they aren't hard to tell in reading. Let's look at two easy sentences.
Iohannes canem timet.John fears the dog. 
This one is easy. First is the subject, then the object, then the verb. Nothing unusual. If you want, you can get rid of Iohannes and let the -t on the verb carry the subject. That's fine. Nothing strange. Let's make the sentence passive.
Canis (ab Iohanne) timetur.The dog is feared (by John).
Two things are different here. First, the direct object is gone. Second is that we've got the -tur ending that signals passive. A slightly less ordinary sentence—passive sentences are a little out of the ordinary—but nothing impossible. Certainly within the rules we've all learned.

But then comes this.
Iohannes canem veretur.John fears the dog.
It's got the -tur of the passive AND a direct object. If you're reading the words in the order they come, you should be fine. The direct object announces itself with the accusative case: canem. If you've been paying attention, this should tell you that a transitive verb is coming. When you get to the weird veretur you may need a second to remember about deponent verbs, but you'll be fine. Direct object in accusative = transitive verb. The verb's ending is odd, but everything else says transitive active, so this must be. And you're right. You've got no choice. You are led to accepting the active nature of the deponent this way. 

The problem is when you find the subject—easy since it's usually first—followed by a verb hunt. Which isn't hard to find. It's there at the end. Veretur. See the -tur? Must be passive. So far so good. The problem is when you then go back to pick up the rest of the words. You've got your subject (Iohannes) and your verb (veretur), but now you've got what seems to be a direct object (canem). Except that passive verbs don't have direct objects. What is going on? 

What's going on is that you should be reading in the order the words come. The sentence prepares you to have an active verb. A quick spark of memory, and you remember that deponents exist and that this must be one of them. The other way—the verb hunt—leaves you with an unwanted direct object. Unless you remember that deponent verbs exist. Which requires that you remember that deponent verbs look passive and mean active. And that you remember that veretur is one of these deponent verbs. And now you've got to track down the direct object again because you've lost track of it in the scrum happening in your memory. (By the way, this is one of the reasons you should get used to reading Latin in the order it was written. It's a language, not a scavenger hunt.)

Next up: PUFFV verbs screw all of this up.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gesta Romanorum

If you've ever wondered about a good place to wander into unadapted Latin, here it is. The Gesta Romanorum are a collection of moral tales from the 12th Century. I've dressed this one up a little bit. If you've studied Latin to the point that you know what a subjunctive is, you should be able to handle this.

For those of you who don't know what a subjunctive is, this is what is waiting for you. It's huge fun. This is a document I prepared for my students in kind of a one-off situation.
Gesta Romanorum 129 – De amicitiae verae probatione

Friday, September 28, 2012

Deponent verbs, part 1

For those of you in the beginning of your study, you're in for a treat when you get to these.

Latin has a fleet of verbs that look passive but have active meanings. The usual order of presentation is passive voice well before deponent verbs. This is a shame since deponent verbs are some of the most common verbs in Latin.

The first give away is going to be in the dictionary entry. A typical transitive verb will look something like this:
faciō, facere, fēcī, factum, to make or do
putō, putāre, putāvī, putātum, to think
More or less. Deponent verbs are going to have an entry that looks more like this:
arbitror, arbitrārī, arbitrātus sum, to think
proficīscor, proficīscī, profectus sum, to set out
A few differences should come screaming out. First, the plain ol' vanilla transitive verbs have four principal parts. Four. The deponents have three. The part corresponding with fēcī is missing from the deponent entries—after all, the Latin passive system doesn't use it.

Another difference should come in the last part. The deponents have an odd final part. Profectus sum. See how it indicates the 1st person singular perfect tense? Very unusual until you get used to is.

The other thing to notice is the first principal part. Compare faciō and arbitror. Do you see it? Yeah, arbitror doesn't end with -ō. It's got an -or there. This is going to be your big tip off in the dictionary.

The problem, of course, is that Latin words only rarely hang out in dictionaries. Net up: recognizing deponents in reading.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Free book offer stil good

Well, it's still not perfectly free.

Here's the story. I've got this book I published, Abecedarium Latinum. It's an ABC book for the youngest Latin students. Now, naturally I'd like for you to buy it. Preferably lots of copies so I can go on vacation with my family in Bora Bora—or somewhere else equally ridiculous. No actually, the money would go to more mundane stuff like groceries. I digress.

I've got 8 copies. One of them is free for you if you meet two of the four the following criteria:
   • Teach Latin to young kids (or have done so)
   • Homeschool
   • Have an active blog that gets more than 300 hits per month
   • Will write a review of the book (and link to the Amazon page)

If this is you, and you want a free book—drop me an e-mail. Or, if you want, check out the free eBook version I keep at my website.