I’ve always enjoyed languages and being a bit fed up of either staring at my computer, making plans for my work or finding somewhere semi-comfortable to sit in my partly completed house I decided I would put my spare time to good use by deciding to learn a language.
I heard about a website and App called DuoLingo which is free and has a few dozen languages available to learn. I studied French for 5 years, German for 2, Italian and Spanish for 1 each as well as quite a bit of Romanian but really wanted to properly learn Farsi (Persian) as I had picked up some when I was a student and I always find old Persian culture to be the most rich in the world.
I decided to try and learn Latin as it was something I’d always wanted to do and Latin has the bonus of having the familiar characters. Going to secondary school in the late 1980’s I wasn’t given the option it was all modern and compulsory European languages. Our teachers were too politically correct to even teach Shakespeare and so Latin was never going to be an option. It probably wasn’t helped that then as now, I was shy and quiet and so presumed to be stupid.
I’m a little surprised how easy Latin is to learn, at least using software. If it had been the slightest bit difficult I would have given up seeing as I have plenty of easy ways to waste my days rather than get frustrated with a language app. One always hears about how hard it is to learn once you are past your 20’s and perhaps even more so for learning a new language but I have to say it all makes perfect sense.
It probably does help knowing smattering of European languages and though it’s sometimes said that English doesn’t have too many obvious links to Latin, I think it does if you have a thorough understanding of English. If only I had been taught Latin at school, I may have got by without having to learn the other languages!
As I find with learning any language, it is easier to read Latin than to comprehend it when spoken and writing it is harder still. I was thrilled though when I wrote my first sentence in Latin and got it 100% correct first time round.
I’m not sure how many lessons for Latin there are on DuoLingo, there must be many hundreds and I’m only on around lesson 30-40. However it tells me I can read, write and comprehend 114 words so far going by the tests which isn’t bad for just 5-10 minutes a day for a week often sat on my loo as that is the most comfortable seat in my house at the moment.
Apparently in most languages, 1,000 words will allow you to understand 80% of conversations and vocabulary with 5,000 words taking you to 95%. Let me tell you, if you need any Latin help regarding familial names, sleeping and studying then I am your man or Vir as we Latin speakers prefer.
I’m not sure how long I will carry on learning Latin, I guess until I get bored, stuck or am allowed outside. It used to be said Latin is a dead language and there is no point in learning it any more but learning Latin opens up a whole world of admittedly very old literature and written accounts and you can only really understand English if you know Latin and it helps you with all sorts of scientific terms. All much more interesting to me than the living culture of South Korean pop music, air-headed Hollywood celebrities or a hundred other things so many obsess over these days.
I’m hoping to put my Latin to good use when I am reading old church memorials in London or Roman artefacts . I could already guess at some words but it will be so much easier and fun to read it all directly and I’d imagine be a good way impress tourists even more!
If you have to be stuck at home for weeks or even months then you might as well put it to use and I know I’d never get round to learning any new language ordinarily. If you fancy joining DuoLingo free of charge, just click on the link below.