Ani's 2017 Log

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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby reineke » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:45 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:I have read enough to believe that nothing gets lost in translation.


Chinese publisher pulls 'vulgar' translation of Indian poet

"In the passage that has drawn the strongest objections, Feng translated the line “The world takes off its mask of vastness for its lover” as “The world unzipped his pants in front of his lover”. Feng also used the Chinese word for “coquettish” to translate the word “hospitable” in a line where Tagore describes the grass-growing earth.

Tagore, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1913, is revered as a literary giant in India, and the Chinese translation has angered many Indian intellectuals. It has also drawn strong criticism in China, where Tagore is widely admired."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/ ... ath-tagore


Found in Translation?
A new version of War and Peace seeks naturalism through slang— a questionable tack with a book whose originality is not its language

"It’s certainly true that the Russian troops were unlikely to sound as they do in the Maudes’ dialogue (“Wasn’t it fine …”). And yet, Briggs’s version risks sounding like a child’s pirate movie made by Australians. His penchant for spoken language, I trust, encouraged him to transliterate a German colonel so that the officer’s speech reads like parody (“‘Ze reason vy, my goot sir,’ he said, in his German accent, ‘eez just zat ze Emperor knows zis too’”...

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... on/304725/
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby Ani » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:12 pm

Cavesa wrote:I am a bit hesitant to post, not sure whether I am qualified, but I would like to add a few tiny bits based on my relationship with Latin.

Of course you are welcome. Join right in :)
Wanting to belong to a specific tradition is nothing bad. It is actually an extremely important topic that has formed a large part of history and is very alive these days everywhere.

Hmm.. this is an angle I hadn't considered exactly. I have to think about this a lot more.

I also am thinking about why English speaking parents would feel such a need for their children to speak a "less useful" language.( I know that is not exactly what you said and I accidentally chopped up that part of your post). That's definitely the perspective of someone who comes from a relatively smaller language :) Even though most native English speaking Americans stay monolingual, saying something like "why should someone learn another anguage when they already speak English?" Would be social suicide :lol: I guess there is quite a cultural attitude tied up there that I never even noticed.

I hope I wasn't too rude or critical by praising Latin here, in such a case I sincerely apologise, it wasn't my intention.

Oh no actually I love Latin and your comments have given me a new line to think about what people are saying by the timing and method they use to include Latin in the education system. I also took Latin in highschool and found it both enjoyable and very useful educationally.
And I wonder: if you are against unpractical things (which is a very good attitude in general, if I may say so), do your children learn music? That is another thing that forms personality, intellect, the sense of belonging to a certain tradition (depending on the kind of music). And just like Latin, it is unlikely to bring bread on the table.

Oh yes. I probably should have clarified a bit more, but music is part of formation on my mind (I still don't know exactly what "formation" means to systematiker so I'm using that word my own way for now). My nine year old has been taking piano for 4 years now. My daughter had lessons last year but her tiny elflike hands made it painful so we'll try again in another year or so. They both sing seasonally in a children's choir. I also expect them to learn to draw realistically whether they have interest in art or not. I can see some people might see Latin as part of formation, but so far I can't see how that is justified over a living language from an early age.

I'm not actually against impractical things -- many of the most interesting and wonderful things in life are terribly impractical. I am just against useless and boring. No one is filled with passion for history by learning the standard American grade school history curriculum (I'm guessing that's the same in most of the world). Worse, I felt cheated when I realized how much of the history I had spent my first 8 years of education learning was so simplified and "happi-fied" as to be little more than a lie. In place of that sort of nonsense, I teach geography with just general timelines and delve into history where age appropriate. I try to be economical with my children's time so they can explore their own passions and just have time to BE a human. Although this is not related to teaching time management, I feel they have every right to waste their own time but it is a cardinal sin for me to waste it for them.
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:41 pm

reineke wrote:
MorkTheFiddle wrote:I have read enough to believe that nothing gets lost in translation.


Chinese publisher pulls 'vulgar' translation of Indian poet

"In the passage that has drawn the strongest objections, Feng translated the line “The world takes off its mask of vastness for its lover” as “The world unzipped his pants in front of his lover”. Feng also used the Chinese word for “coquettish” to translate the word “hospitable” in a line where Tagore describes the grass-growing earth.

Tagore, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1913, is revered as a literary giant in India, and the Chinese translation has angered many Indian intellectuals. It has also drawn strong criticism in China, where Tagore is widely admired."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/ ... ath-tagore


Found in Translation?
A new version of War and Peace seeks naturalism through slang— a questionable tack with a book whose originality is not its language

"It’s certainly true that the Russian troops were unlikely to sound as they do in the Maudes’ dialogue (“Wasn’t it fine …”). And yet, Briggs’s version risks sounding like a child’s pirate movie made by Australians. His penchant for spoken language, I trust, encouraged him to transliterate a German colonel so that the officer’s speech reads like parody (“‘Ze reason vy, my goot sir,’ he said, in his German accent, ‘eez just zat ze Emperor knows zis too’”...

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... on/304725/

Sorry, I'm not buying any of this conventional wisdom. No matter whose translation of War and Peace one reads, in no matter what language, one doesn't walk away thinking it's about a wiener roast on the fourth of July in Spitsbergen. If I tell you that in my opinion Chekhov may not be the best writer I have ever read, but that I have never read anyone better, and then if I tell you I read him only in translation, will you say that my opinion must be wrong because so much gets lost in translation? If I tell you that I have read The Brothers Karamazov twice, and that I have a pretty good idea of what happens, but I read it in translation, will you tell me I must have got most of it wrong?
I was I will admit intending to be talking only about prose. Poetry is a different matter, and I do believe that with poetry almost everything gets lost in translation. Maybe that happened with the Chinese translation of Tagore, but, frankly, poetry or not, using such a remote example is, IMHO, rather a stretch.
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:27 pm

Cavesa wrote:I am a bit hesitant to post, not sure whether I am qualified, but I would like to add a few tiny bits based on my relationship with Latin.

Latin is special. It is seen as unpractical, but mostly by people who do not value education too much, no offence meant and I don't mean you. It is an observation based on reactions of people in real life to "I chose to learn Latin at school" (but the reactions stopped after finding out I was considering medicine, that was legitimising the "foolish" choice). But for us choosing it, the fact "I want to connect with this part of my cultural heritage" is important.

Forming one's cultural identity is an important part of education. Giving the person the means to find it. My experience with learning Latin is part of my cultural identity, despite the fact I remember rather little from it now, apart from terminology, and from the practical skills of understanding lots of foreign words from various fields (Latin is actually very practical due to this!). I would never claim such a nonsense as "everything good came from Romans and Greeks", that is simply not true. I highly doubt Latin learners in general would say such a piece of rubbish. I just value the "Roman part" of my cultural heritage a lot, despite not putting down the others.

Latin is practical not just due to the vocabulary. The grammar is very logical, the way it describes things very precise and concise. It is less practical than living languages, that is true of course. But I still wonder, why do natives of huge languages worry so much about that? You already speak English, so what. A Czech parent could be worried, if their child was refusing to learn English and insisted on working hard on their Latin instead. But that is different. Yes, some people view Latin as snobbish or too exclusive. But I believe such an attitude tells much more about these people than about learners of Latin. The choice to talk down Latin and "unpractical things" and this important part of our roots is a cultural stance too.

I hope I wasn't too rude or critical by praising Latin here, in such a case I sincerely apologise, it wasn't my intention. And I wonder: if you are against unpractical things (which is a very good attitude in general, if I may say so), do your children learn music? That is another thing that forms personality, intellect, the sense of belonging to a certain tradition (depending on the kind of music). And just like Latin, it is unlikely to bring bread on the table.

I realize you're addressing these remarks to Ani, but I have a couple of things to add.
My personal objection to Latin is not that it is impractical, but that it is boring. I understand your belief in tradition, a veneration of tradition is what led me to take a Latin course in the first place. It was not a requirement. The first course was based on Caesar's De bello gallico. We did not read all of it, but subsequently I did read the whole work. My second semester of Latin was based on Virgil's Aeneid. Reading Caesar and Virgil destroyed (almost) forever any desire I had to read more Latin. Caesar's constant bragging about genocide and Virgil's lifeless fan fiction about the most uninteresting hero ever hardly inspired a desire in me for more.
I have read some splendid Latin lyric poetry from the Middle Ages in Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love-Lyric, by Peter Dronke. In 2 volumes from Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1965. I highly recommend it. There is a small handful of poems by Horace I like, and Seneca has written a few good letters, though they are mostly marred by the habit he and Cicero both had of spritzing up their writing to make it arty. Ugh. Even at his artiest and most incomprehensible, Plato never tries to deliberately obfuscate.
As for tradition. I try to distinguish what is valuable (at least for myself) in tradition from what is not, what is genuine in tradition from what is just something that gets passed on like a fruitcake. I see no insult nor harm in your praise of Latin. I would only ask that you go back and refresh your knowledge of the works in the language and apply your rather intimidating intelligence to what you read, and then decide it is is worth recommending, and worth praising. And I would ask of anyone who wants to praise Latin or its literature or to praise the literature of any language. Have you yourself read it? And if so, what is there specifically about what you read that makes you think I should spend my time reading it?
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:47 pm

Ani wrote:So I worked on a reply for like an hour this morning.. and the computer accidentally got shut down before I managed to hit post. So I'm going to try again... It is 2am though so my thinking is a little jumbly.
No no I love this. And if anyone feels you have taken a biased viewpoint (or me for that matter as we keep going!) or poorly expressed something as to be offensive (ditto for me), I hope they feel free to jump in here and provide a counter consideration or clarification in the spirit of a nice conversation, because I think that is all any of us are trying to have.


First of all, the most important thing to take away from this thread, is not to let your computer to get shut down automatically. :D
Second, Systematiker does not seem to me to be going on and on. He's just making a point.
Though I am still not convinced. As for Latin. Except for reasons of a specialty, or just a special interest, I would not be teaching Latin to anyone. Or Ancient Greek either. If learning either were no more complicated or time-consuming than learning how to thread a needle, then I would say, yes, go ahead. But they are not that simple. Not just hundreds but 1000s of hours go into mastering either tongue.

I am now going to bow out of this thread. The two of you show a much broader and deeper understanding of the data and the issues than I do.
This is one of the most interesting threads ever, and I look forward to further input.
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby Systematiker » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:05 pm

Nested quotes are hard!!

Ani wrote:
Systematiker wrote:I'd also like to note that I speak a lot about the Western Canon below, and of Western tradition. This is not to denigrate any other tradition, nor out of any desire to deny anyone a seat at the table. I am very aware of those who have been excluded from said conversation, and the problems of inclusivity (and that's a whole 'nother tangent).

This is actually of interest to me. You can answer or consider this rhetorical musings as you prefer.. but who has been excluded and why? Whole cultures or individuals not lucky enough to live at the right place and time? Because of point in history (relative to destabilizing events), ancient biases, or present biases?

Well, there's a lot of dialogue about certain voices, especially those of women or those who in recent years have been excluded in a significant sense, having been excluded from the conversation - sort of a "dead white men" thing. There's a lot to be said in both directions, especially from the standpoint of a society that's only a couple hundred years old, or societies that are in tension about pluricentrism. I have strong opinions, of course, but I'm not sure we can go into much of that without ending up at least a little bit political.

Ani wrote:
Systematiker wrote:Indirectly as well, in both the anglophone world and through Europe, we have a cultural tradition of education in these "classical" languages, and "classical" works. If one were particularly interested in that tradition, the modality is through the vehicle of the original, as it's been a bit of Western culture since the Renaissance that the source text in the source language expresses more than a translation.


Ok here is where I am interested. We have a cultural tradition. Who is "we" exactly. What do we do to gain entrance into such group. What is the value of such group that we are selecting our education path to join, and is this education path giving us something of equal or greater value when we consider the opportunity cost for not using a more modern education system.

That "we" was speaking of the larger Western tradition of education and formation. Group identity is a powerful thing, to be sure, and whether one is accepted into such a group, if it exists, or one identifies with it through intentional choices is also something else. Personally, I'm not aware of a "group" as such that I'm trying to belong to so much as being cognizant of the historical pattern and being both by my own upbringing and by my choice in that tradition. As to the value of a classically-oriented versus a "more modern" system, we'd have to perhaps better define what we mean and what we are contrasting. Because we could be talking about content, or methodology, or social environment, or underlying educational theory, and so on. I'm not trying to shut this down, and I'm fine talking about it, but I'm aware that comparing educational styles and theories might be a hot topic for some.

Ani wrote:
Systematiker wrote:Regarding cultural signaling, comparative culture, and value by age
Ani wrote:To this end, how do we separate what is cultural signaling in educational choices from what has a quantitative value.. or is it even possible to quantify or analyze great thought across distinct cultures. And how does the idea that "the length of time a work has survived is indicative of the value of ideas it contains" relate here..?


I'm not entirely sure what cultural signaling is, to be honest. Something like virtue signaling, and the desire to belong to a specific cultural tradition?

That is exactly what I mean by cultural signaling. Since this whole 'debate' cropped up because out of a discussion with friends who had decided to start teaching their very young daughter Latin. I proposed a living language as a first step, an idea they rejected off hand. DH and I were discussing WHY and we supposed it might say something about you as a parent and something about your child and their place in society rather different than if you started your child in Russian or Spanish.

(These are good friends by the way, so I am not being judgy about someones educational choices except in the I-really-enjoy-discussing-this-theory sort of way. )

Thanks for that explanation. My first reaction is "but what if it's not external signaling, but habituation into a culture?" That's some of what I'm going to talk about below, but while it might be a "our child started with Latin, look at how erudite and classy we are", it also might be "we want our child to be such-and-such type of person, and historically, those people began Latin early and engaged with, idk, Plutarch's Lives both as language exercise and character formation". All of which, as you'll see below, is not how I'd do it in their situation.


Ani wrote:
I'm not sure great thought can be quantified at all, and even influence can be argued for anyone but the really heavy hitters. I think there's perhaps a lot in education that can't be quantified, but I tend to talk about education as both "imparting of knowledge, practical or not" and "formation" (again, something I have from not-English! :lol: ),

Elaborate more on this please?
The "or not" part is the one sort of unique aspect I take in educating my children. I have tried valiantly to eliminate non-practical education. I have to make a few concessions. I think I might have to eventually teach them the pledge of allegiance. Or at least what it is. And we don't spend a week each year talking about "The first Thanksgiving", making handprint turkeys and pilgrim shoes because my goal in history is to avoid teaching things that are so simplified they might as well be lies, which they'll have to re-learn in a few years.
Where do Latin and Greek fit into the "practical or not" category and do you find them practical or not? :) Or are they formation?

With "practical or not" I mean something like, as I think Cavesa mentions (please don't make me do more nested quotes) things where music or arts probably won't pay the bills, and you might have to have some humanities in your undergrad but accounting degrees teach a skill. You can't have no practical skills or ability - one has to make a living, and have a vocation. But not everything need be quantified or explained in terms of "value added", lest we end up commodifying what makes us human. Latin and Greek are eminently impractical, I don't care what result they have for SATs or this-or-that field, because I don't want to justify humanities on economic terms (strong opinions here, obviously). They're just as gloriously useless as literature, or the arts, and like both of those, they are humanities (human arts, that which humans do and do well) that train us to practice, well, human-ing well (of course, I have strong opinions about what makes a good human!). So that has to do with formation, at least in part, because we can't really separate the two, what we learn and how we learn it shapes the people we become through the experience of learning it and the people we are then having the lens of it through which we view the world.


Ani wrote:
so we may not be talking about the same thing here. My question when considering educational choices is more "what sort of person might be shaped by this" or "what sort of person might need to be exposed by this" and seeing of that (in my concept) lines up with my goal (ha, to say nothing of anyone else's goal!).


I don't think time has much to do with value, but within traditions, we do see ideas recur, and I think there's a lot of value in being able to look at a "literary conversation" across the ages, and the manner in which these ideas are taken up, modified, passed on, and have shaped our surroundings.

So on a scale of 1-5, where would you place early exposure to Latin and or Greek for participation in "The Great Conversation"?

So excusing my hipocracy in that I am studying Latin with my 7 year old daughter, I'd say that exposure before age 10 is about a -1. That's a negative 1. Unless it is part of church service for you, in which cause this is a completely different thing. Between the ages of 12-15, for an average kid, I'd say maybe a 2, and if you think he/she is likely to be very languag-y, a doctor, a lawyer, historian, etc, maybe we move into 4-5 level importance.

Really though in comparison to learning a living language first. This is where I get really torn. I believe to learn a spoken language well is really more valuable in the sense of education of the human, but if you are going to learn a language poorly as happens in many schools in America as well as other places, it might be better to learn a dead language poorly than get off on the wrong foot with a living language. Flip flopping, I assume my friends will succeed at teaching their daughters whatever they plan to teach them and so a living language done well in that way has even more benefit.

I'm not really that far off from you, both in your evaluation and your numbers. Living languages first? By all means! For my children, growing up with two languages (and if I have my way, a third that may not be native to me but we will speak!), Latin or Greek becomes more important simply because it's in the same place in line, the line is just further along. We, like you, homeschool, so we have some freedom there. And I do the occasional service in Latin, but that wouldn't be as much a factor in my mind as what the experience of learning Latin did for e.g. my wife (I learned it as an adult).
Latin for us looks like "we got benefit from it, and it can't really hurt in this plan." Greek, I doubt my children will learn unless they express a desire to (maybe Papa reading a lot of Greek in front of them will help? :lol: ).

Also, you've clearly found my Adler influence, and yes, when I teach philosophy and literature I do teach for a Great Books institution :D . I do note that I have a number of students, mostly at the doctoral level but some at the master's level, who have benefited immensely from getting at some of the language behind the works they're studying in translation, but for all but a couple they can do fine without facility in the language (given their stage of life and goals).


Ani wrote:
As one can probably tell, I have specific ideas about education and culture, and come from this viewpoint in much of the above. I've tried not to be pedantic or long-winded (which is difficult at the best of times, and more so when you figure that this is right in the middle of a conversation about stuff that I teach or discuss academically) - if I've been too unclear, or if I've offended anyone, please know I don't mean to, and I'm trying hard to have a nice conversation. My wife tells me not to go on and on and on and on, so I'm trying to not do that as well!


No no I love this. And if anyone feels you have taken a biased viewpoint (or me for that matter as we keep going!) or poorly expressed something as to be offensive (ditto for me), I hope they feel free to jump in here and provide a counter consideration or clarification in the spirit of a nice conversation, because I think that is all any of us are trying to have.


I'm glad, I know that when things get technical I can get pedantic or abrasive, so I was trying to prevent that impression :D



I'll not quote Cavesa's post, just note that I agree with pretty much everything she said :D


Ani wrote:Oh yes. I probably should have clarified a bit more, but music is part of formation on my mind (I still don't know exactly what "formation" means to systematiker so I'm using that word my own way for now). My nine year old has been taking piano for 4 years now. My daughter had lessons last year but her tiny elflike hands made it painful so we'll try again in another year or so. They both sing seasonally in a children's choir. I also expect them to learn to draw realistically whether they have interest in art or not. I can see some people might see Latin as part of formation, but so far I can't see how that is justified over a living language from an early age.

I'm not actually against impractical things -- many of the most interesting and wonderful things in life are terribly impractical. I am just against useless and boring. No one is filled with passion for history by learning the standard American grade school history curriculum (I'm guessing that's the same in most of the world). Worse, I felt cheated when I realized how much of the history I had spent my first 8 years of education learning was so simplified and "happi-fied" as to be little more than a lie. In place of that sort of nonsense, I teach geography with just general timelines and delve into history where age appropriate. I try to be economical with my children's time so they can explore their own passions and just have time to BE a human. Although this is not related to teaching time management, I feel they have every right to waste their own time but it is a cardinal sin for me to waste it for them.


Here we are again - I think we are using the term "formation" in the same, if not a very similar way. I also happen to agree with you pretty much in every point (especially the "over a living language" bit).

MorkTheFiddle wrote:My personal objection to Latin is not that it is impractical, but that it is boring.


Well, suum cuique :D :D

MorkTheFiddle wrote: As for Latin. Except for reasons of a specialty, or just a special interest, I would not be teaching Latin to anyone. Or Ancient Greek either.

I think that's reasonable, though I would note that a special interest may be the formative aspect of learning it, at least as considered by some.
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby reineke » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:10 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:
reineke wrote:
MorkTheFiddle wrote:I have read enough to believe that nothing gets lost in translation.


Chinese publisher pulls 'vulgar' translation of Indian poet

"In the passage that has drawn the strongest objections, Feng translated the line “The world takes off its mask of vastness for its lover” as “The world unzipped his pants in front of his lover”. Feng also used the Chinese word for “coquettish” to translate the word “hospitable” in a line where Tagore describes the grass-growing earth.

Tagore, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1913, is revered as a literary giant in India, and the Chinese translation has angered many Indian intellectuals. It has also drawn strong criticism in China, where Tagore is widely admired."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/ ... ath-tagore


Found in Translation?
A new version of War and Peace seeks naturalism through slang— a questionable tack with a book whose originality is not its language

"It’s certainly true that the Russian troops were unlikely to sound as they do in the Maudes’ dialogue (“Wasn’t it fine …”). And yet, Briggs’s version risks sounding like a child’s pirate movie made by Australians. His penchant for spoken language, I trust, encouraged him to transliterate a German colonel so that the officer’s speech reads like parody (“‘Ze reason vy, my goot sir,’ he said, in his German accent, ‘eez just zat ze Emperor knows zis too’”...

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... on/304725/

Sorry, I'm not buying any of this conventional wisdom. No matter whose translation of War and Peace one reads, in no matter what language, one doesn't walk away thinking it's about a wiener roast on the fourth of July in Spitsbergen. If I tell you that in my opinion Chekhov may not be the best writer I have ever read, but that I have never read anyone better, and then if I tell you I read him only in translation, will you say that my opinion must be wrong because so much gets lost in translation? If I tell you that I have read The Brothers Karamazov twice, and that I have a pretty good idea of what happens, but I read it in translation, will you tell me I must have got most of it wrong?
I was I will admit intending to be talking only about prose. Poetry is a different matter, and I do believe that with poetry almost everything gets lost in translation. Maybe that happened with the Chinese translation of Tagore, but, frankly, poetry or not, using such a remote example is, IMHO, rather a stretch.


[Nabokov pronounced] ...Garnett’s translation “a complete disaster.” Brodsky agreed; he once said, “The reason English-speaking readers can barely tell the difference between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky is that they aren’t reading the prose of either one. They’re reading Constance Garnett...

A less imperious but no less discerning critic, Kornei Chukovsky (who was also a famous writer of children’s books), esteemed Garnett for her work on Turgenev and Chekhov but not for her Dostoyevsky. The famous style of “convulsions” and “nervous trembling,” he wrote, becomes under Garnett’s pen “a safe blandscript: not a volcano, but a smooth lawn mowed in the English manner—which is to say a complete distortion of the original.”

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005 ... ation-wars
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby Cavesa » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:19 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:I realize you're addressing these remarks to Ani, but I have a couple of things to add.
My personal objection to Latin is not that it is impractical, but that it is boring. I understand your belief in tradition, a veneration of tradition is what led me to take a Latin course in the first place. It was not a requirement. The first course was based on Caesar's De bello gallico. We did not read all of it, but subsequently I did read the whole work. My second semester of Latin was based on Virgil's Aeneid. Reading Caesar and Virgil destroyed (almost) forever any desire I had to read more Latin. Caesar's constant bragging about genocide and Virgil's lifeless fan fiction about the most uninteresting hero ever hardly inspired a desire in me for more.
I have read some splendid Latin lyric poetry from the Middle Ages in Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love-Lyric, by Peter Dronke. In 2 volumes from Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1965. I highly recommend it. There is a small handful of poems by Horace I like, and Seneca has written a few good letters, though they are mostly marred by the habit he and Cicero both had of spritzing up their writing to make it arty. Ugh. Even at his artiest and most incomprehensible, Plato never tries to deliberately obfuscate.
As for tradition. I try to distinguish what is valuable (at least for myself) in tradition from what is not, what is genuine in tradition from what is just something that gets passed on like a fruitcake. I see no insult nor harm in your praise of Latin. I would only ask that you go back and refresh your knowledge of the works in the language and apply your rather intimidating intelligence to what you read, and then decide it is is worth recommending, and worth praising. And I would ask of anyone who wants to praise Latin or its literature or to praise the literature of any language. Have you yourself read it? And if so, what is there specifically about what you read that makes you think I should spend my time reading it?


I understand your reservations. A part of our cultural heritage is definitely that fruitcake. I read only short bits during my Latin classes (but you are reviving my desire to relearn Latin), but I read more in translation.

The first work that came to my mind: Metamorphoses by Publius Ovidius Naso. Unlike some other pieces of ancient literature (I hated Ancient Greek comedies), I loved those stories and the style (but I realise the impact of translation on that). These mythological pieces are not only good stories. They are behind so many archetypes, many are alive in the language and used even by people who have never read these stories. But I admit you could well argue those stories are originally Greek, that is true.

I know it doesn't look like much and I totally agree your view of Latin stands on very sound logic. And I should review more, to remember all I had used to know about Latin literature. But still, I don't regret the time I had spent with Latin.
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Cavesa
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby Cavesa » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:39 pm

I loved Systemitiker's note about learning human-ing :-)

MorkTheFiddle wrote:Though I am still not convinced. As for Latin. Except for reasons of a specialty, or just a special interest, I would not be teaching Latin to anyone. Or Ancient Greek either. If learning either were no more complicated or time-consuming than learning how to thread a needle, then I would say, yes, go ahead. But they are not that simple. Not just hundreds but 1000s of hours go into mastering either tongue.


You are right it takes a lot of time, but I don't think that is a reason to avoid it. I believe Latin is an example of a path, where even a part of it without reaching the final destination has a lot of value. 1000s of hours go into mastering any language.

If you give up on Russian (or any other living language) after 300 hours, you are left with an intermediate level bound to deteriorate. Limited skills that are not that likely to be economically useful, and too limited access to the culture to be personally enriching, and limited "other skills" gained from the exercise. Latin is different. I believe the rather traditional and analytical way it is being taught is an extremely good exercise. Latin learning definitely improved my language learning methods in some ways, and my overall attitude towards knowledge. While a thousand half forgotten Russian words will be useless, a thousand of half forgotten Latin words still give a lot of insight in the terminology in many fields, as the language had been accompanying our science for such a long time.

And I think Latin can be a good piece in the puzzle of personal growth. Latin is one of the very few subjects, where teachers are still not afraid to say "yes, it is hard, you need to work for the results", which is an attitude I find rather lacking in the contemporary schools. Especially when it comes to languages. The colourful coursebooks and half educated native teachers are so busy with making languages look easy and fun, that they are lowering both the expectations and subsequently results of the students, but also not building their study habits.

I actually see less harm, or a smaller wasted opportunity in giving up on Latin after a year two, compared to giving up on a living language. And if the child dislikes learning languages after their first educational experience with them, you can always say "but that was a dead language, of course the new attempt will be much better" to gain their trust back and motivate them for further learning. While people disappointed with their first living language experience are often distrustful for life, as we all know.
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Re: Ani's 2017 Log

Postby Ani » Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:49 pm

Cross linking my logs for posterity...
Here is the 2018 log
https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7596
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But there's no sense crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.


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