salvēte iterum, amīcissimī! As promised, today we’ll experience the (rather terrifying) first story in which both normal and deponent verbs appear together. Yesterday, we talked about the introduction of deponents (and normal verbs of both transitive and intransitive or actīvus et neuter varieties), and we considered some advantages of this rather unconventional approach to verbs, where we began with third-person singular forms, moved rather quickly to a “standard” dictionary listing, and then moved back.
Another advantage of learning about “standard” dictionarry listings and principal parts, it seems to me, is that we already “know” first-person verb forms (and infinitives) even without a formal introduction. So we can very quickly add first-person verb forms to the “mix” of things in a Tres Columnae story … and, as a result, we can introduce first– and second-person forms in different Lectiōnēs.
In my face-to-face teaching life, as you know, I use one of the “Big Three” reading-method textbooks, quem nōmināre nōlō, and am very fond of it. But I find that my students, especially the weaker language learners, often struggle with first– and second-person singular verbs when they’re first introduced. It’s not usually an issue of comprehension; they can certainly understand a first- or second-person verb in a story. But they have a lot of trouble deciding which form to use in productive activities. All of a sudden, there are three verb choices instead of just one! By contrast, that same reading-method textbook introduces one new noun form at a time, so there’s only one new choice for students to work with at a time. As a result, my weaker students usually find nouns less bothersome than verbs.
Since I want Tres Columnae to work well for all kinds of different learners, it makes sense to me to avoid potential problem spots, and it seems to me that introducing one new verb form at a time is a good way to do that. Hence the deliberate separation of first– and second-person forms. In a way, there’s more than one new thing going on in this Lectiō, since we’ll see some infinitives and some first-person forms in the stories. But we won’t have to work with them in a formal, productive way until later. As for faster learners, they can progress quickly to the next Lectiō, if they’d like, so they’re not being held back by the needs of the slower, more deliberate learners.
quid putātis, amīcī? Does that make sense? It’s obviously difficult in a “traditional” factory-model classroom, but in a self-paced environment like Tres Columnae, it seems quite natural to me.
Anyway, let’s imagine the illustrations that would accompany this story, and imagine the audio narration:
prīmā hōrā Lollius ē lectō surgit et togam induit. “valē, uxor,” inquit. “hōra prīma est. ad domum patrōnī festīnō.”
Maccia “valē, marīte,” loquitur. Maccia in cēnāculō cibum parat. Lollia, fīlia Lolliī et Macciae, quoque cibum parat. Cāius in cēnāculō cum mustēlā lūdit. Cāius pilam iacit, sed Celeris mustēla pilam nōn īnsequitur. “mūrem pinguem, nōn pilam sordidam īnsequī volō,” Celeris sēcum putat. “mūrem pinguem cōnsūmere volō.”
Cāius nihil intellegit. “mustēlam ignāvam habeō,” Cāius sēcum loquitur. “cūr Celeris pilam īnsequī nōn vult?”
intereā Lollius per iānuam cēnāculī ēgreditur et ad viam dēscendit. Lollius per viam celeriter prōgreditur. maxima multitūdo in viā est. “cūr tanta multitūdō in viā est?” Lollius sibi loquitur. “hōra prīma est!” exclāmat cīvis Herculānēnsis. “patrōnum meum vīsitāre volō! patrōnus meus sportulam prōmittit! patrōnus meus sportulam optimam pollicētur!”
in īnsulā proximā vir pauper cum uxōre contentiōnem habet. “panem cōnsūmere nōlō!” exclāmat pauper. “panem optimum parō!” exclāmat uxor. “panis est foedus et pessimus!” exclāmat pauper īrātus. “nōnne māter mea panem optimam –!”
subitō uxor īrāta panem et catillum per fenestram cēnāculī conicit. ligulam quoque per fenestram conicit. “mātrem tuam quoque cum pane et catillō conicere volō!” exclāmat uxor. “mater tua certē est foeda et pessima!”
panis cum catillō et ligulā per fenestram volat. panis ad terram dēscendit. catillus ad terram dēscendit. ligula gravis ad terram dēscendit. ēheu! panis caput Lolliī percutit! catillus quoque caput Lolliī percutit. ligula quoque caput Lolliī percutit. catillus frāctus caput Lolliī secat, et sanguis ē capite fluit.
“vae! vae! ō caput meum!” loquitur Lollius trīstis et perterritus. “quis ligulam et panem et catillum conicit? quis est auctor inūriae meae?”
pauper cum uxōre ad fenestram cēnāculī festīnat. “heus!” exclāmat pauper. “cūr tantus clāmor prīmā horā in viā est? cūr sanguis ē capite hominis fluit?”
“nesciō,” respondet uxor. “fortasse homō stultus est.”
“sine dubiō, uxor,” pauper loquitur. “estne puls in alterō catillō? estne ligula altera?”
“certe, mī marīte,” respondet uxor. “et nōnne pultem optimam parō?”
“ō uxor mea,” inquit pauper, “puls tua est optima! puls mātris meae est pessima et foeda.”
“ō marīte,” susurrat uxor, “tē amō.” “tē quoque amō,” respondet pauper.
Lollius tamen trīstis et īrātus, “causam sanguinis plānē cognōscō!” exclāmat. “quid per fenestram tuam volat? unde panis cum catillō cadit? quis est auctor iniūriae meae?”
nēmō respondet, quod nēmō prope fenestram nunc stat. Lollius īrātus per viam ad domum Valeriī prōgreditur.
Of course you can imagine the comprehension questions that we might use, and I’m sure you can imagine the writing prompts and the Continuing Virtual Seminar possibilities, too. Sadly, Lollius’ troubles are not over, as he will also have a painful encounter with Sabīna, his patron’s neighbor’s mustēla, before he arrives at the salūtātiō. vae Lollium!
quid respondētis, amīcī?
- Does it seem strange to use deponent verbs so early in a learner’s Latin career?
- Even if it’s strange, does it seem reasonable?
- Do you find the explanations helpful, or confusing?
- If they’re confusing, are we trying to do too much – or not enough?
- And what do you think of the story? My head is aching in sympathy, I must confess! 🙂
In a recent email comment, our faithful reader Laura G suggested two different types of grammatical explanations: one “for mastery,” which gives all the details, and one “in passing,” which gives a preliminary explanation for something that will be dealt with, in more detail, at a later point in the course. In these terms, I think we’ve had an explanation “in passing” for first-person verbs and infinitives and a “mastery” explanation of third-person singular forms. Should we aim for a “mastery” explanation of deponents here, or would a “passing” one be sufficient?
Tune in next time for the very early Lectiō in which Tres Columnae participants will encounter the inpersōnālis. For as long as I’ve known about them, I’ve always been very fond of impersonal passives – and of supines, too, which will also make an early appearance. In both cases, I think, it’s because they’re so … Latin! So un-English! You could translate them, after a fashion, if you really wanted to … but they’re so much better in their un-translatable but perfectly understandable Latin form! 🙂
In the meantime, thanks again for reading, and please keep those comments and emails coming.