Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Latin Is a Language, Dead as Dead Can Be...

There's a little rhyme, well-known to Latin teachers and students past and present (and no doubt future):

Latin is a language,
Dead as Dead Can Be,
First it Killed the Romans,
Now It's Killing Me.

This little poem has been written inside many textbooks throughout the decades by students, struggling to learn their declensions and conjugations. (Fortunately, we have some really imaginative and well-written textbooks these days that keep students from giving up!)

A member of the Latinteach discussion list asked this week about the 2nd verse. She quickly received an answer from another list member.

All are dead who spoke it.
All are dead who wrote it.
All are dead who learned it,
Lucky dead, they've earned it.

Of course, this is certainly untrue! Despite the claims in this verse, Latin is being used as a means of communication today. Living people actually do speak and write Latin.

The University of Kentucky sponsors a Conventiculum each summer, in which participants live for an extended period of time in an all-Latin environment, speaking and hearing Latin exclusively.

The North American Institute for Living Latin Studies also is hosting its 7th annual Rusticatio Californiae seminar in Petaluma, California this summer.

UMass Boston runs a week-long residential immersion seminar Conventiculum Bostoniense, aimed primarily at teachers, featuring instructional activities, local excursions and social activities in Latin.

It's too late to sign up for 2007 -- these conventiosn and institutes are happening this week and next -- but interested individuals are encouraged to visit the websites for these Conventicula and make plans for 2008!

If you'd like to read some Latin, written to keep you informed about current events and knowledge, check out:

Nuntii Latini, an online broadcast of world news, read in Latin, brought to you each week from the Finnish Broadcasting Company. This news show is also available as a podcast!

Vikipaedia, the Latin language version of Wikipedia.

Professor John Traupman has written a wonderful manual for anyone interested in developing spoken fluency in Latin. Entitled Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency, this is a great starting point and a wonderful reference.

The Communicating in Latin page on the main Latinteach.com website includes many podcasts, webcasts and other excellent resources for those of you who would like to hear some Latin. I hope you'll be inspired and and realize the reports of Latin's death have been greatly exaggerated.