To think in Latin

KarlaUK

Active Member
There's a lady who has been translating disney songs into latin. Find her on Youtube. Singing is considered to be a great method for enhancing language learning along with movement while speaking. Reading, a lot, is also recommended.
Like physical sports, stay at a low level so you start to feel the flow rather than struggle with too many words you don't understand. Teaching skiing, I found the worse thing beginners and intermediates could do was to ski on terrain that was too hard rather than go faster on the easy slopes. It could put them back years. When you're in that place, though, you can't see it for yourself.
Fluent language is a matter of prediction. That's why a fluent speaker can sometimes try to finish your sentences, even if they don't get it correct, they have a pattern to predict from (in their head) Each word, in a linear fashion, begins to limit what can be said next.
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
Wow! I never thought I'd hear a comparison between teaching skiing and teaching a language... That's very interesting!
 

Godmy

A Monkey
Ignōscite verba anglica mihi, at linguistica facilius anglicē intellegī putō... ;)

The topic of the thread presupposes that one vocalizes (or internally vocalizes) every thought they have. Not really. Even if we omit that most of the thoughts will be rather visual, maybe even visually-emotional, the thought that pertains to language will be more often in a higher level of abstraction than concrete words unless you're building a speech in your mind. That is, when language is formed in your brain, there are first "preverbal" concepts of things carrying meanings that may or may not even have the exact word in your vocabulary(!) (and if they don't, and you want to put it into words anyway, you speak around it so much until you find the word [or you don't find it, you just describe it]), the vocalization (or inner vocalization) though happens only if you wish it to communicate or if you entertain having a monologue e.g. during some solitary monotonous task. But that's not what always happens, I would even say that's maybe 5-10% of what happens when you're not interacting with anybody.

Now, of course, you can force yourself to internally vocalize ANY thought you have and express it in another language, but this is not a natural process of thinking, it's not the easiest, most effective and most economical way thinking, it's that 5-10% of your thought process taken to an extreme. I did that often, mainly as I was walking around some city in the past when I was a student of Latin in university. It's a great practice for composition, but it's not "thinking like a Roman", if you understand me. Roman wouldn't do that, just like you mostly don't do that with your native language either ;p (you can, but it's mistaken to think that's how it happens mostly + as I say, usually the brain is more efficient in thinking when you stay with the linguistical pre-word/preverbal concepts without any need to even internally vocalize them, it's mostly wasted energy for the brain, it's uneconomical evolutionarily ;p).

I rather think this is one of the linguistical simplifications non-linguistical folk talk about when discussing learning a foreign language: "Oh, and do you think in that language? Do you dream in that language too??" It's a a gross simplification ;p

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When it comes to the word order, as said many times in this thread already, it is really 1) matter of practice (=at some point it becomes natural for your brain without you forcing it... just like any task you do) 2) reading (true fluent reading without jumping around in the sentence; perhaps with an occasional assistance of a dictionary or a commentary) will help you the MOST in your Latin composition and getting used to the language. In Latin, that is almost equivalent of talking to the natives...

P.S.: And I mean here specifically reading the Roman literature (or something approaching it closely at least, let's say Erasmus).
 
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meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
My native language is Portuguese, but I find myself thinking (talking to myself in my mind) in English naturally and quite often, many times unintentionally... We do think verbally. Some may tend to do it more than others? I don't know. Or to perceive it more than others perhaps? Anyway, I do think verbally a lot during the day. It's funny when I get myself doing it in English. It's a little like in the picture, only, once I'm used to it, without the surprise factor. I long for it happening to me in Latin...
 

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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Yeah, I too feel like I'm always having words (mostly English and French) in my head. Well, maybe not always, but definitely often. It's obviously true, though, that many thoughts are wordless.
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
Another thing that happens when you are able or begin to become able to think in a certain language is that you feel you can say anything in that language. There are very few things I think I can't say in English. (Certainly there are a lot more than in Portuguese, but my perception is that these aren't that much.) Also the grammar isn't clumsy. You know how to say things. Anything. That's fluency. Whatever level of fluency it may be. (We are always learning, even our own mother languages...)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Latin is kind of a different matter when it comes to being able to "say anything" in it, though, at least if you mean being able to say it on the spot, without research or too much thinking. The difference lies in the fact that it is an ancient language, which entails the lack of established ways to denote a lot of modern things, in addition to the fact that the Roman literature we've got tends to be a lot about things like philosophy and war, and much less about some other topics, leaving us with gaps as to how to handle sometimes even surprisingly simple everyday matters.
 

Mafalda

Civis Illustris
....Even if we omit that most of the thoughts will be rather visual, maybe even visually-emotional, the thought that pertains to language will be more often in a higher level of abstraction than concrete words unless you're building a speech in your mind. That is, when language is formed in your brain, there are first "preverbal" concepts of things carrying meanings that may or may not even have the exact word in your vocabulary.....
Very precisely explained, Godmy. Me too, the way I see it is that the language is only a kind of a road or a channel through which you canalize your thoughts. There is some structure in the mind, however you perceive it, like an emotion or sounds or spots of colour or whatnot, and then it is a matter of opening the channel through which to express it. The monolingual people usually do not perceive it, do not perceive that there is something beneath the verbal level, something that exists in the mind before you step on the language road, but with two or more languages it is easier to notice. Also the more channels you have the more difficult it is to maintain them all in order, they tend to become difficult to use, like old neglected roads (but like old Roman roads they are still there). And learning a new language is like building a new road.
That is why all these stories about polyglots with eighty-seven languages is sheer nonsense, it is not possible to have many languages available for use, not possible to maintain them, there is just not enough physical time for that. Of course one can have basics of umpteen languages to be able to buy a cup of coffee or a ticket and to say "Thank you", but it is not what you call mastering a language.
 
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meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
Some bilingual people do not perceive it either... :rolleyes1:

I agree on the polyglot thought though. People call themselves polyglots because they know how to use a few sentences in a language, but they don't master them... But I'm guessing that. I actually don't have factual research on the matter.

(Bi-and-a-half-lingual am I, I could say... I speak some French... Four with Latin, though I'm less fluent in my Latin than in my rusty French, and I don't get myself thinking in French as I do with English, so I'm actually bilingual, I believe.)
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
I agree on the polyglot thought though. People call themselves polyglots because they know how to use a few sentences in a language, but they don't master them... But I'm guessing that. I actually don't have factual research on the matter.
I can say with certainty that many self-proclaimed "polyglots", on YouTube at least, indeed are limited to memorized phrases and sentences in x amount of languages. When they actually have to form sentences on their own, it gets choppy really quick.
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
So, what about the Goldlist? Any progress?
It works. Your brain does keep 30% of the things you take note.

Also, the method makes you write Latin every day. If it comes to give any result, I believe it will be largely due to this fact.

(Actually, I'm not doing it hard core ways... So, I decided to work from Mondays to Thursdays, and leave Fridays free, with the weekend. Or maybe in the future I'll make the Wednesday the free day. But for the moment it's Friday.)

It's an interesting method, and very easy to make happen. And once you take note of expressions, it helps with syntax too. Let's see if it helps on the long run. I hope so, and I'm optimistic.
 

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
So, what about the Goldlist? Any progress?
The effort to remember the phrases made me realize that I still have issues with agreement as well. Many a time I use the wrong case and make mistakes with adjectives. Not always do I manage to use the proper case. Once the memory practice is very intuitive, it demands --and produces-- language (grammar) acquisition, I think.

Also, the method is, I think, helping me to get used to whatever verb constructions I find, which is a very positive trait.

So, progress! :D
 
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