In the zeroth class of the Latin from Scratch course, we’ll begin the course by cutting right to the chase: we’ll learn only the absolutely fundamental grammar that we need before starting right away with the analysis-translation of Latin sentences and reading basic Latin texts.
I explain everything in the following video ():
So, this quick start lesson includes the essential theory. After undestanding, studying and learning this zeroth class, you will be able to analyze, translate and/or read basic Latin texts.
In this course we’ll be using the so-called pronuntiatio restituta, which is the pronunciation that linguists have reconstructed because, according to linguistic research and data, is the one considered to have been used in the Latin of Julius Caesar, Cicero, etc.
For an English-speaking person, the most important aspects you need to know so far are the following:
- Vowels are pure vowels: A, E, I, O, U
- C is always [k]
- G is always [g]
- In the group GU + vowel, U is always pronounced
- In the group QU + vowel, U is always pronounced
- V is pronounced [w]
There are only three diphthongs, ae, oe, au, and they are pronounced as such.
One of the most shocking features of Latin, if we compare it to English or Spanish, is the existence of six cases in nominal morphology: depending on the syntactic function of a word within the sentence, the noun, adjective or pronoun will have different endings.
English kind of have some remnants of this. Consider the following:
- Who is your friend? He is my friend.
- Whom did you see? I saw him.
- Whose book is this? This book is his, John‘s.
But let’s look into Latin itself:
Canis puellam mordet.
Canem puella mordet.
Each case has several syntactic functions. The most important theory you need to know for now is as follows:
- Nominative: subject and attribute.
- Vocative: appellative function, getting the attention of someone else.
- Accusative: direct object (no preposition); adverbials (according to the preposition).
- Genitive: complement of a noun or an adjective.
- Dative: indirect object.
- Ablative: adverbials (according to the preposition or lack thereof).
(No idea about syntax, or yours is completely rusty? Refresh here!).
|nom. sg.||domină||nom. pl.||dominae|
|voc. sg.||domină||voc. pl.||dominae|
|ac. sg.||dominăm||ac. pl.||dominās|
|gen. sg.||dominae||gen. pl.||dominārum|
|dat. sg.||dominae||dat. pl.||dominīs|
|ab. sg.||dominā||ab. pl.||dominīs|
You have to learn the table. There you have the six cases in singular (left) and in plural (right). The part underlined is the ending of each case, which will be used in all the other words belonging to the first declension (e.g. rosa, rosae; puella, puellae; regina, reginae…).
The ending is the part which reveals the case(s) of a word. As we already know, according to the case, the word will have a specific syntactic function.
This is the most basic tense. If you know Spanish, you’ll see that it is quite similar. At first, we only need to know the basics to recognize the person and the number of a verb (we don’t have to know how to conjugate verbs).
These are the endings:
So for example the verb to love is as follows:
The verb sum ‘to be, to exist…’ is irregular, so you just have to learn it by heart every time that we learn a new tense. This is the present indicative:
We start practicing!
This is all the theory we need to start analyzing and translating our first sentences. Go directly here and follow the instructions (written and on videos).
Before or after the sentences, you can try and read (no analysis-translation) the first chapters of Maxey and Fay. According to what you’ve just learned in this class, try to notice the grammatical features you already know. Everything will start clicking in your head!
Once you’ve finished the texts in the first module so you know if/that Latin is for you and that you want to spend time and enjoy it, then, yes, you should go for the rest of the classes of the first module before going on to the second module.