How long did it take you to learn Latin?

By soror mystica, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Nov 19, 2012.

  1. soror mystica Member

    Recently I have stumbled on this quote by Mark Twain:
    My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years."
    It is a bit of an exaggeration of course, but I have to say I agree as to the general message. English took me 3 years; French was easy - in fact, so easy that I decided I didn't need to practice it, and it died on me most insidiously; as for German, I started learning it three times, and capitulated every one of them.
    There seems to be a lot of fluent Latin speakers here, and and it would be curious to know how long did it take you to get where you are.
    Akela likes this.
  2. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    I began intensive study in 2010, and dropped it (intensive study, that is) at some point in 2011. I wouldn't profess to have finished learning Latin, but I have no problem saying that I know Latin.

    I learned as much here as I ever did in a book, if not more. Of course, that doesn't mean that I didn't need to use a book to at least build a solid foundation.
  3. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    I've been learning it for a year and almost a half, by correspondance courses. The course is almost over, three more lessons and it'll be it (it'll be it for the course I mean, I'll still have much to learn). I wouldn't say that I'm fluent, but I manage not so bad.
    I've clearly learnt quite a few things since I've hanged around here as well.
    This is surprising. For me French is of course the easiest language in the world, since it's mine. But in general I hear people say it's quite hard, and I must say that when I learned English, I realized how French was an intricate and complicated language compared to it! I often told myself: "hell, if I was an English-speaker lerning French, what would it be..." But, if I'm not mistaking, your mother tongue is Russian? I don't know a single word of Russian, but it has the reputation of being quite hard, so maybe French is just a piece of cake in comparison!
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Nov 19, 2012
  4. soror mystica Member

    Wow, I thought you were teaching Latin at university or something - you know so much. It must have been a very good correspondance course!

    French, for me, was easy grammar-wise. The vocabulary, too, is fairly staightforward, if you have English and Russian background. (Because French was the language of Russian upper classes, the two languages have a lot in common.) French pronunciation was abysmally hard, though, and English was only a little better. I still speak as a beginner ESL student would. Oh well, I guess being tone deaf may have something to do with it!

    But overall, yes, English was surprisingly easy... Here in Canada, a lot of native speakers appear to have an active vocabulary of about 200 words: "like," "whatever," "you know," and various anatomical terms. Of course, nobody bothers to learn grammar rules - even such basic ones as forming plurals. This drives me berserk, because English is a beautiful language that doesn't deserve to be turned into Orwell's newspeak. I wonder, is it happening to French too, or are people still taught to speak properly?
  5. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    :D Well, not at all... Thanks so much, but that's a bit exagerating...!
    Yes, similar things happen to French. Maybe to all languages actually...
  6. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    I self-taught briefly, using a combination of a second-hand textbook and workbook and this site. Then, I had one intense year of Latin grammar at my university, which met every day of the week (besides weekends, of course), for an entire academic year. Then, I took the second year courses, which consist of reading Caesar, Virgil, Cicero, and then on to the letters of Horace, Pliny, and Seneca.

    I have also taken many courses about the ancient world in more general terms, such as ancient sexuality, ancient art, Greek and Roman epic poetry, history of Rome, etc.

    I still continue to learn every day. I go through even beginner textbooks, just to refresh my grammar, vocabulary, etc. Can I pick up a work of Caesar, Cicero, or Virgil, and read it as I read English? No. I have to look up words, and if I am reading ancient letters I have to refer to commentaries in order to understand rare idioms and things like that.

    But, I do feel confident saying that I know Latin. I can read, write, and speak with relatively high proficiency. It is a language that doesn't provide one with many venues in which to practice live conversation, so many lack in that respect.

    I think that, in order to feel really comfortable with the language, it would take a year or so of intense grammar study, and then a couple of years of reading things like Caesar and Cicero. Once you feel like you have a good command of all of the grammar concepts, and have a relatively large vocabulary, you will feel comfortable to move on to things like Horace and Virgil (things like poetry, letters, or philosophy).
    Pacis puella likes this.
  7. Acsacal Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Ile-de-France
    In France teachers focussed on orthography, in primary as well as in secundary school. As a French speaker from France, I remember that our pronunciation was rarely corrected. The gap between spoken language and written language is now huge, but "mastering written language" is a basic skill for the eventual employability of school children, employability being the only purpose of school in EU countries as agreed by all its goverments through the Lisbon agenda, itself inspired by OECD. there is now a huge gap between spoken and written language. For example, it is absolutely normal for me to say "mon petit-fils, sa maîtresse, c'est p(l)us la même que l'année dernière" and to write "mon petit-fils n'a plus la même maîtresse/institutrice que l'année dernière" (in my approximate English: my granson's schoolmaster is not the same as last year)
  8. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Same in English:

    My grandson's schoolmaster is not the same as last year: my grandson's schoolmasta ain't da same as last year.

    (Well, this is American rather than British I think, correct me if I'm wrong.)
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Nov 20, 2012
  9. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    I think "ain't" is pretty well distributed across the English-speaking world. In the 19th century, it was used informally by all social classes in England. It is usually considered lowbrow now.

    "Ain't da" makes me think of common African-American dialects, though.
  10. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    I didn't know that.
    Yes, one often hears "da" for "the" in American rap music, so you must be right.
  11. Symposion Member

    Location:
    Helsingia (Finnia)
    I have now been studying Latin Language and Roman Litterature for almost 1 1/2 years. In other words I am still just in the basics of it...
  12. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Bohemia
    I can't say because I haven't learnt it yet... but 3 years so far.
    (I mean I'm quite confident now, but there is still something to achieve :p )

    Edit: Congratulations, Pacis puella! Year and half... pretty nice:)
    Last edited by Godmy, Nov 20, 2012
  13. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Well thanks, Godmy! (That's half the time you have been learning it...)
  14. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Bohemia
    Hahaha ;)
    If I had a chance to speak with me from year and half ago, I would probably say to myself:

    "No, it's not just about vocabulary from now on... you will get to totally different levels you can't imagine, just be patient and do what you do and believe that you can still get better in litterally hardly-imaginable ways and areas pertaining to this language".

    < Now, read this, please, after year and half, ok? :D
  15. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ahem... I'll try to remember!
  16. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Bohemia
    Alright! :thumb-up:
  17. Kosmokrator Active Member

    Location:
    Pléroma
    I have been studying latin and greek since i was 14 ... now im nearly 30; so it's been half of my life ...
    don't trust people who claim to speak latin fluently ...
    Last edited by Kosmokrator, Nov 22, 2012
    malleolus likes this.
  18. malleolus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    As Kosmokrator has pointed out a few moments ago it actually takes you years and years to master this language. As for speaking Latin fluently (and reaching some level of syntactical complexity) you would actually need a huge amount of practice.
  19. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    No-one can speak Latin fluently, no matter how strong their conviction that they are able to.
  20. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    Clearly fluency means different things to different people.

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