A sample of
Get Started in Latin
(Teach Yourself) 2014
To buy online, search by ISBN number:
Book only 978-1444174786
Book with audio pack 978-1444174779
Audio only 978-1444174762
This is a revised edition (2014) of Teach Yourself Beginner's Latin, first published in 1997.
This course assumes you are a beginner. Let’s see. These
Latin phrases appear from time to time in English. What
do they mean?
1 bona fide
2 vice versa
3 tempus fugit
Nouns are ‘things’, the essential building blocks. When we have to have something in mind. Take the noun food, for instance, It might be fast food, hot food or delicious food, but the thing is the food.
Mulus (a mule) and silva (a wood) are both Latin nouns. An English noun is a word which may have ‘the’ or ‘a’ in front of it. In Latin there is no word for ‘the’ or ‘a’, so when you translate mulus, for instance, you decide whether it is a mule, the mule or just mule. Names of people and places are also nouns, called ‘proper’ nouns, and have capital letters in both Latin and English (Paulus Paul).
Verbs tell us what happens to these nouns, i.e. what the action is. Take the noun food again. You can buy it, cook it, chew it, swallow it, choke on it, spit it out and so on.
Latin verbs usually come at the endof their sentence or word-group, as spectat (watches, is watching) below.
With the help of the picture translate:
Introduction to classical Latin
Latin was the language spoken in Rome and the surrounding region as early as the sixth century BC and possibly earlier. The number of Latin speakers grew as the Roman empire expanded around the Mediterranean, and the vocabulary swelled and forms modified under the influence of languages in the new subject territories (especially Greek).
The classical Latin authors lived within a few decades either side of the life of Christ. In the first century BC Cicero, a brilliant public speaker, had his performances recorded in writing, and so his speeches survive along with his letters and more reflective philosophical works. His Latin became the model for almost all later writers of Latin prose. He was followed by, among others, the historian Tacitus, whose sharp comments on the theme of moral collapse enliven his account of Rome under the early emperors. Among the classical poets there is Virgil, whose story of Aeneas founding Rome was quickly recognized as a masterpiece, and Horace, a friend of Virgil, who is remembered for his Odes, short poems on themes of love, friendship and mortality; and Ovid, a decade or two later, a poet whose wit and fresh invention remained hugely popular in the centuries that followed.
Like any living language, Latin of the classical period would not stay the same forever – despite the efforts of later writers to reproduce literary models like Cicero. The spoken language gradually evolved into French, Italian, Spanish and other ‘Romance’ languages, while the much-prized literary language, by its nature preservable, was embalmed for future generations to study and imitate.
So it is in this course with the story of Augustinus, set in a medieval monastery. One or two medieval words appear (e.g. ecclesia church and presbyter priest), but throughout the course you are in fact learning the rules of classical Latin. Indeed Augustinus loved classical Latin so much his recording of the story follows the rules of classical pronunciation.
Subjects and objects
There are two nouns in the above sentence, mulus (the mule) and silvam (the wood). One is doing the watching, the other is being watched. The doer is the subject noun, and the done-to is the object noun.
In English we usually make this clear by the word order, with who is doing it first (subject), then the verb, and finally the one being done to (object):
the mule is watching the wood
mulum silva spectat
the wood watches the mule
In Latin it is the word-endings rather than the word order which tell us who is doing it and to whom.
Word order: verbs
A Latin verb usually (although not always) comes at the end of its sentence or word-group. In the sentences above, the verb (spectat) comes at the end, where in English it would be sandwiched between the subject and object. Thus, in a simple English sentence it is the object which we predict:
What did he deliver? Presumably the milk. Possibly the mail or maybe even twins?
The story of Augustinus (1)
This story runs through the course. Words and support are given with each section. Macrons (which mark long vowels) are shown in the printed course.
Paulus in silva ambulat. mulus cum Paulo ambulat. mulus non Paulum portat sed sarcinam. fessus est Paulus et mulus est lentus. mulus silvam spectat. silva mulum spectat. mulus silvam non amat sed timet.
Online supports for this course, which include a translation of The Story of Augustinus, and notes on the audio support.
Go here for an introduction to Latin cases.