Teaching Latin to my Baby

By Hadassah Branch, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Apr 20, 2019.

  1. I have a baby girl who has been under my care for parenting (she's my best friend's and we take care of her together.). She is 3 and a half and I really want her to fall in love with Latin literature and read it with ease when she wants to.

    She can already read simple sentences in English. I haven't spoken to her in Latin for fear of corrupting her with my horrible accent and pronunciation. I already got the Cambridge and Oxford Latin Books (the easy ones with illustrations). What should I start doing?

    She's certainly at the age for sponging up languages. Would speech be okay, even if just to get her better associated with the language when ready for bigger reading levels?

    Issacus Divus likes this.
  2. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    Uhm ... first of all I'd make sure that her parents don't mind you doing that to their child :p

    Btw, the thread title might easily pass for a song title ;)
    Hadassah Branch likes this.
  3. Haha, I'm pretty much the parent and have been since her birth. My friend is going through very hard times but she knows how I am with her. She knows about the Latin matter and has held me responsible for her education. I did consult her about this whole thing so yeah. The baby calls of us Mama and lives with both of us, but we aren't in a romantic relationship. It's complicated. Hahaha.
    So, what steps do you think should be taken, Bitmap? Speech or none?
  4. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    Complicated story! I'd say a lot of it is up to you.

    I don't have any children of my own, but if I did, I don't think I'd bring them up with Latin (even though that would be well within my capacity). I mean, you can teach them Latin later, when they are old enough ... but bringing them up as some kind of pseudo-native speakers??

    I personally don't like the thought of that. I have experienced a lot of parents who tried to turn their children into miniatures of themselves or, even worse, who tried to make their children achieve all the stuff they never managed to achieve themselves (especially in chess ... the parents themselves suck at the game like no other, but they expect their children to become national champions and rage at them when they fail).
    I often end up pitying such children.

    I think it's perfectly within your right to teach the child some Latin here and there along the way, just don't overburden her. Especially if you're not fluent in Latin yourself and can't be sure about your pronunciation ... what's the point of going for spoken Latin?
    Hadassah Branch likes this.
  5. Thank you for that! No, I would never think of that and hold the same sympathies as well. She can already speak in four languages and just thought that she would be happy to have another beautiful one within her capability. You know, like help her to be more comfortable with the language until she's start learning it on her own.

    I myself was and am an autodidact and got interested in reading when my Dad would tell me, "Don't touch those, books!" But I sure do appreciate my parents for bringing me up multilingual because I feel very free and multi-perspective this way. I thought about sharing this to her.

    But you're right. Since we can never recreate Latin as it was as a real language, it's better to leave it alone as an intellectual exercise .

    I shouldn't be teaching something beyond my jurisdiction. If she shows interest later though, I will help her and get her the resources she needs.
  6. Issacus Divus Well-Known Member


    I disagree.
    All that spoken by Bitmap may be true, as parents trying to accomplish failed tasks through children is terrible. But I am strongly against the idea of a "pseudo-native" speaker!

    Whether or not you teach her Latin is up to you. And that's it. It's not wrong or bad to teach her Latin. Just like how you label Latin as an "intellectual exercise"?
    Hebrew was labeled as an "religious exercise".

    Until about 1882, Hebrew had not been spoken unless you were reading the Torah, or were in the Temple. Hebrew was revived when one man raised his son entirely in it.

    Granted, this probably isn't your goal, but just know that it's already sorta happened before with success.
  7. WOW, I did not know that Issaacus that changes things
  8. Issacus Divus Well-Known Member

    Hey, all I'm saying is, zero native speakers of Hebrew in 1881, 9 million native speakers in 2019.
  9. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Águas Santas
    From my experience, three and a half is not the age when a kid can consciously learn a ‘foreign language’, that is using a textbook, through reading and grammar explanations. That’s too abstract and moreover, they lack assiduity. They spontaneously learn the languages they are exposed to, but that’s magic.

    On the other hand, you can serve as an example. If the girl constantly sees you studying Latin, there’s a chance she’ll become interested, too. Perhaps she’ll be able to take it up seriously in some five years, you’ll be fluent by then. :)

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