Sunday, 27 December 2009

This will be number 365 and it is not a leap year.

I should perhaps go back and look. I think I started this more than a year so I must have missed a day here or there although I did try to put out one cat hair each day. Hmm.
Leap years remind me of hares rather than hairs. I do not know why. I also associate hares with rabbits. Again, I do not know why.
Some years ago I invented a title for an imaginary Latin textbook. It was called "Leaping into Latin". The characters in it were rabbits. There was also (supposedly) "Flying French" and "Speeding Spanish" - more rabbits. They were aviators and racing car drivers. I wonder why I made the characters rabbits rather than hares?
Nobody has written the books. I think they would be more fun than "hasta" (spear). That was the first word in my school text. The book was full of spears, soldiers and wars with the occasional loving farmer thrown in. It did not appeal to me at all. I have always wanted to see a copy of Kennedy's Latin Primer to see if it was any better than that. Probably not.
I try to tell myself that Latin was useful. I did very little in three years. I could struggle through some of the Latin text in the Roman Catholic Prayer Book brought in by a classmate. We never got as far as Caesar's Wars or the love poems of Catullus or the possibly much more interesting comments on food by Pliny (the Elder I think, not the Younger).
Latin does come in handy when I am trying to work some Spanish and, to a lesser extent, with Italian. Logic says that should be the other way around but it is not so. I cannot say anything useful in Latin and, apart from the Pope, who might understand me? I am not likely to meet a Pope and they seem to speak respectable English.
I will keep writing in English. I am fortunate that it is my mother tongue, fortunate because of the immense and varied vocabulary and the many sources from which it comes. I do wonder however, what is the Latin for, "This will be number 365 and it is not a leap year."?


virtualquilter said...

I failed Latin two out of three years before I was allowed to change subjects, but in trhe third year the most memorable lesson was the day we asked the teacher how to swear in Latin.
She told us the Romans did not use bad language (apart from Latin), but we wanted to know what they would have said if they dropped a rock on their toe and other stressful moments. She tried very hard to convince us that nothing other than correct Latin ever passed their lips.
We decided that if they didn't use bad language in those circumstances the language was not only dead but had never lived. About half the class deliberately failed that year!

Tony said...

I am the proud possessor of a GCSE 'A' in Latin - mind you, that was in 1991, so I can't remember much of it now. We read Book 2 of the Aeneid for GCSE, and very interesting it was too. I do think that Latin is useful, especially if you go on to study other languages (or even your own). Having a grounding in grammar, even if it is that of a different lanaguage, allows you to analyse speech and writing and make sense of something that may otherwise be incomprehensible.

In short, bring back Latin :)

catdownunder said...

I agree Tony - but can you translate the sentence?
Seriously, a young friend had the choice between starting Latin or starting Japanese this coming school year. I nudged her towards Latin. Japanese is very badly taught and she wants to learn Italian so - no contest!

Rachel Fenton said...

I used to work with a Spanish speaking chap who taught me lots of naughty phrases and said I was "bonito" - We never did get much work done there!

catdownunder said...

They say that French is the language of love Rachel - but I am inclined to think Spanish or Italian has the edge on French!