Exercises for a Story, IV

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we’ll look at several questions (more than the three I promised in yesterday’s post) about the relatively “new” grammatical elements in this story from the Tres Columnae project. Yesterday we focused on some higher-level reading comprehension tasks. As I mentioned last Friday, the “new” grammatical elements are dative-case nouns and first-person plural verbs, and the “relatively new” items include vocatives, imperatives (not too many in this story), and infinitives. I’ve designed some questions that measure recognition and analysis of these grammatical elements, and others that measure application and synthesis of them.

As usual, the lower-level questions will come first, and we’ll save the higher-level ones for when the learners feel comfortable … which will take different amounts of time for different learners. In a conventional classroom, particularly in a factory-model school, this individual variation can be a real problem; if the process and time are both fixed and invariable, what are we to do with “problematic” students who either need more time (or, worse yet, less time) than we anticipated? But in the Tres Columnae system, with its combination of self-pacing and personal Ownership, there’s no real issue: when the learner has demonstrated mastery of the “new thing” (to her own satisfaction, if she’s an independent learner, or to her teacher’s satisfaction, in a more “conventional” learning environment), she simply moves on to the “next new thing.” It’s OK if she doesn’t answer every question, and it’s OK if she’s working on different questions – or different skills – from the student sitting next to her.

Anyway, as I considered the first few paragraphs of the story, I started out with questions like these:

  1. “mī Magne,” inquit, “tibi necesse est ad patrem et mātrem ambulāre.”  quid est nōmen cāsūs vocātīvī?
    1. Magne
    2. tibi
    3. patrem
    4. mātrem
  2. “ ego enim cibum Rapidō et Rapidae iam parō.” cuius cāsūs sunt Rapidō et Rapidae?
    1. nōminātīvī
    2. genitīvī
    3. datīvī
    4. accūsātīvī

These are obviously testing recognition or comprehension of the new (or newish) forms, in the first case, and the ability to distinguish or analyze the new (or newish) forms, in the second case. You can probably imagine the feedback for incorrect answers; if you can’t, just check out the “Semi-Public Sample” course at www.TresColumnae.com/moodle this weekend, and you’ll be able to see the complete activity, with lots more of each type of question.

Now we move on to slightly higher-level questions. For example, there are application-level questions in which the learner uses oldish and newish grammatical elements to make (or choose) a good paraphrase, like this one:

  1. “necesse est Rapidō et Rapidae cēnam ēsse.” cui periodō eadem significātiō est?
    1. Rapidus et Rapida cēnam cōnsūmunt.
    2. Rapidum et Rapidam cēnam cōnsūmere decet.
    3. Rapide et Rapida, cēnam cōnsūmite.
    4. Rapidō et Rapidae cēna parāta est.

What I love about a question like this is that it really encourages a “focus on form” in the context of communication, rather than on “grammar for grammar’s sake.” So often, when grammar lessons are divorced from communication – that is, when we “do the grammar” for a while, then “do some reading” with the new grammatical elements – students fail to realize that there’s a connection between the two parts of the lesson! (Or maybe it’s just my students who do this! 🙂 Maybe yours always make the connections perfectly!) A question like this brings the “doing grammar” and “doing reading” strands together.

So let’s consider the feedback that might accompany the wrong answers, and let’s see if it, too, can be tantum Latīnē.

  • “Rapidus et Rapida cēnam cōnsūmunt.” – heu! falsum est hoc, quod Rapidus et Rapida cēnam nōn iam cōnsumunt. quid significat necesse?
  • “Rapidum et Rapidam cēnam cōnsūmere decet.” – heu! vērum est hoc. verbum tamen nōn est oportet, sed decet. nōnne decet “decōrum est,” nōn “necesse est” significat?
  • “Rapidō et Rapidae cēna parāta est.” – heu! vērum est hoc, sed quid significat necesse? nōnne Rapidum et Rapidam oportet cēnam ēsse?

Since our learners have worked with decet and oportet for several Lectiōnēs, I think they’ll understand the feedback quite well even though it is in Latin. Of course, there will also be an option for English feedback if you, the learner, need it.

Or, for a slightly simpler example, and one focusing directly on datives, how about this one:

  1. “in cavō Impigra mūribus caseum et panem offert.” quis panem accipit?
    1. Rapidus et Rapida
    2. cavus
    3. Impigra
    4. caseus

To answer this question, the learner must do more than just say “dative nouns are translated as ‘to’ or ‘for’ someone or something” or even “mūribus est nōmen cāsūs datīvī.” Instead, he must think through the relationships involved in the sentence (and in the rest of the story), using the dative and other noun endings as tools rather than as an end in themselves. You can probably imagine the feedback for the incorrect answers, especially caseus! 🙂  If you’ve read the stories from Lectiō Octāva and Lectiō Nōna, you might imagine that even Fabius, the magister novissimus, might say “vapulāre dēbēs!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Even if you don’t use these tools yourself (and I have to say, I don’t use them as much as I might with my own face-to-face students), can you see how they do, in fact, test both comprehension and grammar?
  • Does it make sense to you to try to do more comprehension and grammar work in Latin rather than in translation?
  • Can you see how someone might argue that Latin-to-Latin work actually is more precise or more directly targeted than translation work, especially for comprehension, application, and analysis-level tasks?

I’ll have more to say about this critical issue of the imprecision of translation in tomorrow’ s post. Again, let me say I don’t have any philosophical objections to translation, and I do use it as a tool with my face-to-face students. But I think most readers of this blog know how translation works, and I also think it’s a tool that can easily be overused … or even used when it’s not the best tool for the job. Not even a Swiss Army knife is the perfect tool for every job; for example, it would be hard to use one to light up a darkened room or to jump-start a car! 🙂

Tune in next time for more … and you can tell me whether the Swiss Army knife analogy is profound or ridiculous! et grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Questions about a Story, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Since I know that many of you have personal lives :-), I thought it might be nice to give you a bit more time to devise questions about the story we looked at yesterday. Just as a reminder, here’s a link to the story at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site.

And here’s our challenge – we’re trying to develop at least 10 questions that measure a reader’s skills of reading comprehension, and at least 5 that measure his/her skills at distinguishing and analyzing the “new things” (especially dative nouns and 1st-person plural verbs) in the story. If you’d like, you can see my questions about the first paragraph of the story … just follow these simple steps:

  1. Visit www.TresColumnae.com/moodle and choose the “Tres Columnae Semi-Public Sample” course.
  2. Choose to “Login as a Guest” and use the “enrolment key” of Caeliola79.
  3. Scroll down to week 2, Lectiō Octāva, and choose the quiz called “Rapidus et Rapida ludum cupiunt Comprehension and Forms Analysis.”
  4. Since you’re not a student, you’ll need to Preview the quiz.  You can see the questions and the feedback, but your score won’t be recorded.

A few words of warning:

  • There are only 5 comprehension questions, and 3 grammatical ones. After all, I confined myself to only one paragraph of the story.
  • I deliberately was mean to you 🙂 by not writing grammar questions about those “new things” I mentioned above.  But I did write some about the “old familiar” things.
  • Questions and answers are all in Latin this time. We want to show you how questions, answers, and even feedback in Latin can help to build the learner’s reading proficiency.

I actually don’t have any philosophical objection to English comprehension questions; in fact, I think they can be very helpful, especially with a text that’s at near the outer end of the learner’s instructional reading level. But this text comes near the end of its Lectiō and is designed to be at an independent reading level, or close to it.  So I think Latin questions, Latin responses, and Latin feedback are quite reasonable here, even if you normally ask English questions about a harder story.

quid tamen respondētis?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the questions,and I hope they give you some good ideas. We’ll save yours … and the rest of mine … for Monday and beyond! 🙂

Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful, and very enjoyable weekend! grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus!

Shades of Meaning, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we continue exploring the vocabulary-related issues that are raised by this story from the Tres Columnae project, in which young Cnaeus Caelius, as so often, behaves badly … but this time his sisters are really involved in provoking him. Yesterday, we looked at opposites, synonyms, homophones, and near homophones; today we’ll focus on some concepts that probably do have to be formally presented, as well as on prefixes, suffixes, and connections to English and other languages.  We’ll continue with more of those connections in tomorrow’s post.

First, though, a quick reminder about subscription access, prompted by a question from our friend Anita W on the Latin-BestPractices listserv.  Like many of us, she is a busy teacher who doesn’t have time to look at new materials during the school year.  I told her that, while the current Free Trial subscription offer for the Tres Columnae project does end on June 1, 2010, free access to stories and other static content (and the free subscription that permits you to comment on stories) will, of course, continue.  (And I also explained the various categories of subscriptions in my response, if you’re interested and would like a short summary.)   So, even if you don’t have a chance to use the Free Trial subscription, you can still check us out … for free … at  your convenience.

At the end of the last quid novī? explanation I quoted yesterday, I noted that the word sōlus is (at least according to Lewis & Short) quite probably related to and suus … this was actually news to me, and I was excited to learn it! (I was also excited to quote that Sanskrit word the other day, because I know almost nothing about Sanskrit … perhaps we can add a Joyful Learning Community for Sanskrit at some point if the Latin version of Tres Columnae takes off.) Anyway, and suus, and the special ways that Romans use , are another important vocabulary issue in this story:

quid novī?

For a while now we’ve seen the Latin word (and its dative form sibi). sē and sibi are called “reflexive” words because they “reflect” (or refer or relate to) the nominative word in their sentence or clause, the way that English words like himself or herself or themselves do. Sometimes sē functions in a way that seems completely natural to an English speaker:

Prīma et Secunda inter iocōs faciunt – and we might also say they joke “among themselves.”

Cnaeus in lectum iactat – and we would also say he “throws himself on the bed.”

But Romans also used the word in some ways that seem unusual to an English speaker.

For example, in Lectiō VII, one story is called Lūcius pessimē sē gerit, and in this story the servants ask num Cnaeus umquam bene sē gerere vult? An English speaker would probably say “Lucius behaves badly” rather than “Lucius carries or conducts himself badly,” and would definitely not ask whether Cnaeus ever “carries or conducts himself well.”

If you’ve ever insisted that “literal translation” shows a student’s understanding of a passage (and, to be honest, most of us have … at least at some point in our lives), please just take a moment and ask yourself what “carrying or conducting oneself” (well or badly) demonstrates! 🙂 Now let’s return to the quid novī?

And in this story, we see Prīma et Secunda cachinnibus sē trādunt. An English speaker would definitely not say that someone “handed themselves over to laughter” – or “to tears” (or sleep, or laughter, or jokes) later on, when Cnaeus lacrimīs et somnīs, servī cachinnīs et iocīs sē trādunt.

As for prefixes and suffixes, there are more prefixes than suffixes in this story; the obviously prefixed words include abī, dēsinit, commemorāre, contendit, and effundit. are the obvious words. We already will have had quid novī? explanations for THE common prefixes, but will provide links back to the con/com one since commemorāre and contendere involve slightly different nuances of the prefix. In it, we’ll note that the root meaning is with (since com and con are the prefixing forms of cum), and that, in general, we can see com words where the com means “together with or as one” (like commemorāre, where you are bringing things to mind together) and ones where it means “all together or completely” (like contendere, where you are stretching/hurring all together or completely).

In any case, please note how we’ve deliberately taken pains not to imply a one-to-one correspondence between the Latin and the English! One-to-one correspondences are rare, and language learners need to grasp this important concept! If you don’t, you can experience a lot of sad frustrations, as a recent exchange on the Latinteach listserv revealed. The teacher’s students were convinced that dīcere “means” to say or tell (i.e., that it has the exact same range of meanings as the English say and tell do), so they insisted that a sentence like dīcunt Cnaeum canem vexāre “could be translated” as “They tell Cnaeus to bother the dog.” Their poor teacher valiantly attempted to correct their misconception, but said she still felt that they had difficulty understanding the point.  My guess (and that of several list members who responded) was that the students had fallen into the “Latin is just a special code to represent English” trap, rather than realizing that Latin (or any other language) has distinctive modes of expression, and that there usually isn’t a one-to-one correspondence!

In the interest of time, I think we’ll pause here and pick up tomorrow with a point about the pragmatics of a particular expression. Of course, pragmatics can be a bit tricky when you’re dealing with a language whose native speaker population is no longer alive … but fortunately we can tell a lot about pragmatics from the more “everyday” Latin writings that have survived – things like comedy, farce, and satire in particular. Not that these aren’t a high literary form (except possibly for farce!), but they’re a high literary form that takes its inspiration, and much of its language, from daily life. So tomorrow we’ll consider why Prima and Secunda are so insulted by one thing that Cnaeus tells them.

intereā, quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Do you want to see more sample vocabulary explanations, or do you get the idea?
  • What do you think of our desire to avoid the “one-to-one equivalent” concept?
  • How well do you think we’re doing with this goal?
  • And what about pragmatics, anyway?

Tune in next time for more. grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.  Please keep those comments, emails, and Trial Subscription requests coming.

Shades of Meaning, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! On Saturday, as you probably remember, we looked at a sample Tres Columnae story that illustrates some interesting vocabulary issues. Today we’ll begin to look at how we’ll accomplish our six key strategies regarding vocabulary with a story like this. Specifically, we need to look at how we’ll handle the following in the context of this story:

  • finding out whether the learner knows the word;
  • actual “presentation” of words that need to be presented;
  • opposites and synonyms;
  • homophones and near-homophones;
  • prefixes, suffixes, and such; and
  • connections to English and other languages

First, though, another look at part of the story … just so you don’t have to click on a link if you don’t want to (But you can see the whole thing here if you’d like):

Caelius tandem Cnaeum pūnīre dēsinit et “abī, puer īnsolēns!” clāmat. Cnaeus “vae! heu!” clāmat et ē tablīnō celeriter currit. Prīma et Secunda extrā iānuam tablīnī rem tōtam audiunt et inter sē iocōs faciunt….

Prīma autem “nōnne nōbīs dē lūdō commemorāre vīs?” rogat. et Secunda haec addit: “nōnne laetāris, mī frāter, quod puerum tam īnsolentem quam tē iam vidēs?” Cnaeus tamen īrātus, “puellās īnsolentēs!” exclāmat. “nōnne vōs decet in maximam malam crucem īre? cūr mē ita vexās? et iste Quīntus Flavius est īnsolentissimus! multō īnsolentior est quam ego!”

Prīma et Secunda cachinnibus sē trādunt. “heus! multō īnsolentior quam tū? utrum bove pater illum pūnīre solet, an taurō?” inquit Prīma. “nōn taurō, sed lupō!” inquit Secunda. “immō leōne ferōcissimō!” clāmat Prīma. “vel bālaenā maximā?” exclāmat Secunda….

Cnaeus tamen, “num mē terrēre potestis? nōnne bracchium patris in pavīmentum cadere potest, sī mihi plagās plūrēs dare temptat? et quid poenārum minārī potest ille?”

Prīma et Secunda rīdent. tandem Secunda respondet, “fortasse nōn patrem, sed nūrum vocāre dēbēmus. fortasse Planesium tibi poenās aptās parāre potest.”

et Prīma, “fortasse nōn nūrum, sed bovem vocāre dēbēmus!” Cnaeus bracchium Prīmae prēnsat et, “vae! heu! nōlī umquam,” puellae susurrat, “istam bovem commemorāre. tē in crucem malam et maximam ipse mittere possum! tē cum sorōre tuā crūciāre volō! haec sōlus facere possum!”

Prīma et Secunda rīsūs cēlāre frūstrā temptant. Cnaeus fessus et īrātus ad cubiculum contendit. iānuam cubiculī firmē claudit et in lectum sē iactat. Cnaeus in lectō lacrimās tacitē effundit! “cūr omnēs mē dērīdēre et pūnīre solent?” sēcum susurrat. “dī magnī, cūr vōs mē ita torquēre solētis? cūr omnēs mē torquēre solent? vae! heu! heu! vae mihi!” ….

Since this story comes from the middle of a Lectiō, almost the words in it will (at least theoretically) be familiar to the learners. So we’ll save pre-assessment and presentation for another day … except to say that we’re considering whether or not to have hypertext links for each word, in keeping with the suggestions of the article by Professor Robert Cape about John Read’s vocabulary-development studies. We’d really like to know what you think.

  • Would it be helpful to you, or to your students, to have such links available?
  • Should they be available on the public versions of Tres Columnae stories, or should they be a special bonus for subscribers?
  • Should the links go to an external, public-domain resource like the Lewis & Short dictionary, or should we create a simpler internal glossary?
  • And if we create an internal glossary, should that be another area where users and subscribers contribute?

This story actually contains a lot of opposites and synonyms that we might explore … some, of course, will have been explored already in previous Lectiōnēs, but we might have links to those explanations in case anyone needs a review. For example – et grātiās maximās to our faithful reader Elizabeth, who asked a great question about this on Friday – we address various words that mean “should” or “must” in a quid novī? note in Lectiō X in the current draft, but we may move it back by a few Lectiōnēs before we’re finished:

quid novī?

By now, you have probably noticed a lot of different ways that Latin speakers express the idea that they need to or should or have to do something:

You may be wondering what the differences are. So were we :-), so we consulted the relevant entries from Lewis & Short’s Latin Dictionary at Glossa. This is what we learned:

  • decet means “It is seemly, comely, becoming,; it beseems, behooves, is fitting, suitable, proper” (http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=decet). It’s related to the word decōrum, which means “right” or “proper,” and to decus (glory or honor) and dignus (worthy or deserving).
  • oportet means “it is necessary, needful, proper, becoming, or reasonable; it behooves; I ( thou, he, etc.) must or ought” (http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=oportet) and is related to the word opus, which means “task or work.”
  • dēbeō, which was originally dēhabeō (http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=debeo), originally meant “I have or keep (something) away” … I don’t have it, so I lack it, or owe it. From there, it came to mean that I’m under obligation to do something.
  • necesse (http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=necesse) may be related to a Sanskrit word naç, which means to obtain; anyway, it means unavoidable or inevitable as well as necessary.

Lectōrēs cārissimī, you can probably imagine the exercises we’ll use to practice the shades of meaning among these words … but if you can’t, just hang in there until next week. We’ll be previewing some exercises, and probably including links to the “live” versions of them, too, after Easter.

Another set of synonyms that we’ll address, most likely around this story, is dēsinere and cessāre. I haven’t written the quid novī yet, largely because I need more examples of sentences with cessāre before I do so! 🙂 But it will note that, according to L&S,

  • dēsinere (http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=desino) simply means to cease or stop doing something, but implies nothing about whether it’s desirable or undesirable to do so.
  • cessāre (http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=cesso) is obviously the frequentative form of cēdere; it literally means “to step back very much” from doing something, so it implies that there’s something wrong or remiss about ceasing. In other words, you’re stopping something that you should be continuing … as in Aeneid 6 when the Sibyl asks Aeneas if he’s going to stop praying … and strongly implies that he’d better not stop!

Are there other synonyms you see in this story that need explanations? If so, just let me know and I’ll be glad to add the explanations … or to add them at another point in the project and make a link to them.

As for homophones and near homophones, this story deliberately includes forms of sōlus and solēre (and solēre’s relative īnsolēns). At least one of the Big Three reading-method Latin textbooks has a similar emphasis on these two (along with the noun sōl), so you may be wondering what we’ll do differently. Take a look:

quid novī?

For quite a long time, we’ve seen people (especially Cnaeus!) described as insolēns … which obviously is the source of English words like insolent and insolence. It means “rude” or “arrogant” like its English derivatives, but its root meaning is “unusual” or “contrary to custom.” It comes from the prefix in- (the one that means not) and the word solēre, which we have now met in these sentences:

  • cūr omnēs mē dērīdēre et pūnīre solent?
  • dī magnī, cūr vōs mē ita torquēre solētis?
  • cūr omnēs mē torquēre solent?

solēre (http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=soleo) means “to be accustomed to” or “to be used to” – to usually do something.

It’s not related, though, to another new word we saw in this sentence:

tē cum sorōre tuā crūciāre volō! haec sōlus facere possum!

sōlus (http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=solus), which means “alone” or “only” or “single,” is probably related to words like suus and .

In the interests of space, we’ll stop here and pick up next time with

  • “untranslatable” idioms like sē trādere and sē gerere;
  • more prefixes and suffixes; and
  • some cultural issues about vocabulary that are raised by this story.

intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus! Please keep those comments and emails coming, and please feel free to join us with one of the remaining Free Trial Subscriptions.

Developing Vocabulary, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodāl ēs! Welcome to the second in a series of posts about the ways that the Tres Columnae system will help our participants develop a solid, flexible vocabulary. Our faithful reader and contributor Randy F recently pointed out this link to an article by Professor Robert Cape of Austin College (TX) about the development of Latin vocabulary. Professor Cape, in turn, refers to a book by John Read called Assessing Vocabulary (Cambridge University Press, 2000), in which the author refers to three “dimensions of vocabulary assessment”:

Discrete – Embedded

Selective – Comprehensive

Context-Independent – Context-Dependent

To summarize Professor Cape’s summary, a discrete assessment would measure the learner’s comprehension of individual words, while an embedded assessment would consider how the words related to (and contributed to) the overall meaning of the text in which they occurred. A selective assessment looks at a particular list of words, while a comprehensive assessment considers the whole range of vocabulary a student has developed. A context-independent assessment considers all the possible meanings of a word (all the dictionary definitions, for example, or all the meanings on “the list”), while a context-dependent assessment considers the meaning – or meanings – that would be most appropriate in the actual context. As Professor Cape notes, most assessments of Latin vocabulary, even for advanced students, are on the discrete and selective side of the scale; he suggests several ways to move towards a more embedded, comprehensive, and context-dependent assessment of vocabulary. Given his audience, it’s natural that he emphasizes translation as a primary goal (and the main tool for assessment), but it would be quite easy to adapt this framework to a system, like Tres Columnae, which uses other measures as well. I am truly indebted to Randy for sending this resource my way, and I’m delighted to be able to share it with you! It has significantly changed this post and the ones that follow in this series.

In yesterday’s post, I pointed out ways that the Tres Columnae project meets several of our core beliefs and assumptions about vocabulary. And then I closed with this:

But what about the other promises we made? Specifically, what about

  • finding out whether the learner knows the word;
  • actual “presentation” of words that need to be presented
  • opposites and synonyms;
  • homophones and near-homophones;
  • prefixes, suffixes, and such; and
  • connections to English and other languages?

And are there elements of vocabulary learning that we’ve neglected?

I closed with a promise to begin with the first three elements today, taking up the others on Friday and sharing a story (or two) after that. So here we go:

1. Diagnosis – how do you know if a word needs to be presented?

This is a huge question in a Factory-model learning environment, where one naturally assumes that all learners (raw material) start at the same point and require exactly the same “processing” or “production” in order to become “finished products.” In such an environment, the tendency is always to “teach to the middle” – to find the words that most students don’t yet know and, somehow, present or deliver those, even if some students already know them and others aren’t ready to learn them yet. Many of us experienced that school, and some of us still teach in it! But just because it’s common, that doesn’t make it best or right.

In a Workshop-model learning environment, or in a Retail Store model, the assumption is that each learner is different … and that’s OK. Whereas the Factory is busy standardizing its production methods, these other approaches are more concerned with helping the individual apprentices or customers. As you know, Tres Columnae is firmly committed to the Workshop model, but we recognize and value the Retail Store model too. In both systems, the learner develops Ownership of his or her learning, and in both cases, the essential approach to diagnosing vocabulary needs is quite similar … and quite simple. You Ask!

In other words, in the Tres Columnae system, we’ll provide lots of ways for learners to determine their own vocabulary needs, and lots of ways to help them strengthen their vocabulary over time. You’ve seen some of these if you’ve visited the website:

  • the illustrations for every small fabella and longer fabula;
  • the audio versions of every fabella and fabula; and
  • the quid novī explanations, which sometimes deal with vocabulary as well as grammar.

Given our focus on Ownership, we’ll provide lots of possible presentations, and learners will pick the ones they need … certainly with our guidance, if they request it, or with the guidance of their teachers if they’re using Tres Columnae in a school environment. We want to send the message that it’s OK not to do everything, but how do we send that message to perfection-obsessed learners? I struggle with this question all the time, remembering a former student who burst into tears when she received a test on which she’d scored 108%! Were they tears of joy, you ask? Sadly, no; they were tears of grief and disappointment because she’d missed two questions and could have had a 110%. As our friend Cnaeus would say, “vae! heu!”

2. Presentation – how do  you actually present the word?

Speaking of presentation, you’ll find that we have several methods of actually presenting new vocabulary. We’re a bit cautious about presenting it in advance, especially given the study we referred to yesterday! Most vocabulary presentation in the Tres Columnae system happens in context, in the short, illustrated fabellae that introduce the longer fabulae. For example, in Lectio Prima, we learn the words for family members and the main forms of housing (domus, īnsula, vīlla) through pictures. If a word isn’t introduced that way, and if its meaning isn’t obvious in context, we’re likely to feature a hypertext gloss – perhaps to an external source like Glossa or the Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary at Perseus, or perhaps to an internal page of our own.

3. Synonyms and Antonyms – a specific technique

We often introduce new words through synonyms and antonyms. For example, in Lectio V, when we first meet deponent verbs, we see them with some near synonyms in this fabella:

  • Valerius cum Lolliō colloquium habet. Valerius cum Lolliō colloquitur.
  • Casina “vae! heu!” clāmat et vītam plōrat. Casina vītam queritur.
  • Milphiō ē tablīnō exit. Milphiō ē tablīnō ēgreditur.

Sometimes we’ll make specific points about the differences as well as the similarities between synonyms, as with this quid novī explanation:

quid novī?

You may have noticed that Cnaeus frequently (!) says “vae! heu!” When you look them up in a Latin dictionary, or in an online resource like Glossa, you’ll find that they both mean “alas!” So what’s the difference?

  • vae can be used by itself, but it’s frequently used with a nōmen cāsūs datīvī (or occasionally with a nōmen cāsūs accūsātīvī) in the way that English speakers once said “woe to …” or “alas for …”
  • heu is normally used by itself, or occasionally with a nōmen cāsūs accūsātīvī, and expresses a wider “range of grief or pain” according to its Glossa entry.
  • heu has a cousin, ēheu, which normally introduces a whole clause starting with quam. It’s something like an archaic English “alas, how …” expression.

We’ll handle other near-synonyms like et, -que, and atque – and, on a grimmer note, necāre, interficere, caedere, and occīdere – in a similar fashion, as you can probably imagine.

You may have noticed just a bit of semantic feature analysis in that last quid novī, though we didn’t use a formal SFA grid. And if you’re familiar with Robert Marzano’s academic notebook, you may be able to imagine how that inspired us to create an online portfolio in which our participants collect and reflect on their favorite words … and even adopt a word, or word family, and create a special page about it. Many thanks to our collaborator and friend Laura G for the idea of adopting a word! And if you haven’t seen her amazing Latin animal proverb zoo, you’ve missed a treat. Go ahead, click on the link now … we’ll wait for you! 🙂

(You did click the link, didn’t you?)

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of our application of the idea of Ownership to the learning of vocabulary?
  • What do you think of the Read (and Cape) model for vocabulary assessment?
  • What do you think of our system of offering vocabulary support without demanding its use?
  • And, finally, what do you think of our specific examples of vocabulary explanations?

Tune in next time, when we’ll address

  • homophones and near-homophones;
  • prefixes, suffixes, and such; and
  • connections to English and other languages

as well as your comments, of course. We’ll see a vocabulary-building story (set, ironically, in a school) on Saturday … or possibly on Monday if life intervenes. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus! Please keep those comments and emails coming, and remember that there’s still time to sign up for a Trial Subscription!

Another Infinitive Story

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! If you’ve been hoping for another Tres Columnae story, your wait is over. But before we begin, I’d like to point out just a few of the new, participant-created stories – and audio and illustrations, too! – that are already available at the Version Alpha Wiki of the Tres Columnae project.

We’ve already explored two contributions by our first-ever subscriber, David H:

David has kindly contributed three more Ortellius stories:

And David isn’t our only recent contributor.

  • Our friend and collaborator Laura G has built an amazing “zoo” of animal fables to accompany the Tres Columnae project (and for any other purpose you might be interested in).
  • Our collaborator Ann M (whose voice you can hear in the audio clips that are now available for Fabella Prima, Fabella Secunda, Fabella Tertia, and Fabella Quarta) has also contributed a wonderful story called Pagina Annae about Caeliola’s pet pig … complete with our first-ever user-contributed illustration!

We also have Ann to thank for our amazingly talented illustrator, who has contributed some truly beautiful illustrations for the first few fabellae. And I’d like to give a big shout-out to www.iStockphoto.com whose members are responsible for the lovely photographs of Herculaneum and Vesuvius. If you need great royalty-free images at a reasonable price, it’s hard to beat them … and most of their contributors are “real people” like us, rather than professional photographers. They were one of the inspirations for our Joyful Learning Community, and we’re glad to be able to give them some recognition … and some business! 🙂

If you’d like to contribute a story, an audio clip, an illustration, or a video, there’s still a very limited number of Free Trial subscriptions available. Or, if you’d like, we’ll be making the regular, paid subscriptions available before too long. It’s up to you! 🙂

Of course, we’ve also promised you a “core” Tres Columnae story that makes use of all six infinitives (present, perfect, and future active and passive) and comes from near the end of Cursus Primus, after the eruption of Vesuvius and destruction of Herculaneum. So here we go:

Valerius et Caelia cum Lūciō, postquam ex urbe Herculāneō effūgērunt, celeriter ad Neapolim prōcessērunt. postquam per portās urbis apertās cucurrērunt, ad īnsulam magnam et pulchram contendēbant, ubi Valeria fīlia cum marītō Vipsāniō in cēnāculō magnō et splendidō habitābat. īnsulae enim trēs magnae in urbe Neapolī, quīnque vīllae prope lītora, multum pecūniae Valeriō iam erant. Valerius tamen trīstis meminerat domum suam et quīnque īnsulās in urbe Herculāneō dēlētās esse. “vae servīs, vae clientibus,” exclāmābat. multīs lacrimīs effūsīs, cāsūs amīcōrum et clientium lūgēbat.

Valeria et Vipsānius laetissimē Valerium Caeliumque salūtāvērunt. Valeria affirmāvit sē per tōtam diem deōs omnēs precātam esse. Vipsānius addidit sē in templō Herculis sacrificia plūrima cum multīs vōtīs obtulisse. “mī pater cārissime,” exclāmat Valeria, “tibi apud nōs manendum est! īnsula enim tua, cēnāculum rē vērā tuum est.” Valerius trīstis dīcit sē libenter apud fīliam mānsūrum esse. “paucīs tamen mēnsibus,” inquit, “ad vīllam nostram prope Caprēās prōcēdēmus, quod nōs oportēbit colōnōs vīsitāre et annōnam accipere. fortasse in illā vīllā maximā et splendidā per hiemem manēbimus.” Vipsānius cōnsentit cōnsilium optimum ā Valeriō captum esse.

tum Valeria, “mī pater cārissime,” rogat, “quis amīcōrum nostrōrum superest? cuius fāta incerta?” Valerius lacrimāns explicat sē fāta multōrum nōn iam cognōvisse. “num clientem meum, illum Lollium, cōnspexistis?” rogat. “valdē timeō, quod Lollius vir maximae contumāciae est.” addit Valerius sē iterum iterumque Lollium ōrāvisse ut ex urbe discēderet, Lollium tamen iterum recūsāvisse. “utrum vōs Cāium an Macciam nūper vīdistis?” rogat sollicitus. “mī Vipsānī, nōnne cōnsōbrīnum tuum uxōremque Lolliam vīdistī?” Vipsānius celeriter Valerium certiōrem facit sē heri Lolliam vīdisse, nūntiumque optimum Cāiī et Macciae audītum esse. “Cāius enim, quandō iste mōns flammās ēmittere coepit, mātrem suam coēgit ex urbe fūgere, Lolliamque in hāc urbe vīsitāre,” inquit. “trīstis tamen est Cāius, quod patrī suae persuādēre nōn poterat. Lollius enim, ut dīcis, vir maximae contumāciae fuit. quamquam Cāius iterum iterumque illum hortābātur ut fugeret, Lollius pollicēbātur sē ā deīs servātum īrī quod pius esset. affirmāvit enim sē in urbe mānsūrum esse, nihil perīculī passūrum esse. fātum Lolliī incertum est, sed dubium!”

Valerius et Caelia, verbīs Vipsāniī audītīs, lacrimās effundēbant et cāsum Lolliī trīstissimē lūgēbant. Lūcius quoque mortem Lolliī, quem maximē dīlēxerat, iterum iterumque flēbat. “quid tamen nūntiōrum dē vīcīnō nostrō, illō Flaviō Caesōne, audītis?” rogāvit ille.

Valeria, cui Flavius Caesō multōs annōs odiō erat, rīsum cēlāre temptābat; Vipsānius quoque, ōre in manibus suīs cēlātīs, rīdēbat. Lūcius attonitus, “quid est?” rogāvit. tandem Valeria, “mī frāter, quaesō, ignōsce mihi; nōs nōn decet mala dē mortuīs dīcere. difficile tamen est mihi fātum illīus Caesōnis sine rīsū commemorāre. nōnne meministis illum, paucīs ante diēbus, in animō habuisse ad urbem Pompēiōs prōcēdere negōtium āctum? sēcum ferēbat illam mustēlam, Līviam nōmine, fīliam istīus mustēlae quae Milphiōnem nostrum paene necāvit! in urbe Pompēiīs manēbat ille quandō mōns fūmum cinerēsque ēmittēbat. et nēmō, nē mustēla quidem, ex urbe Pompēiīs incolumis effūgit. mē nōn decet rīdēre; rīdeō tamen, quod Flavius Caesō poenās arrogantiae certē dedit. laetissima quoque sum quod ista mustēla est mortua!”

rē vērā Flavius Caesō, vir magnae arrogantiae maximīque corporis, in urbe Pompēiīs perierat. tēctum enim vīllae, pondere cinerum lāpsum, Caesōnem dormientem presserat et statim necāverat. Līvia tamen mustēla ēlāpsa erat, quod mūrem capere et ēsse cōnābātur. Līvia fūrēns mūrem per multa mīlia passuum īnsecūta erat et incolumis ad urbem Neapolim pervēnerat. nēmō tamen Līviam agnōvit, nēmō Līviae cibum aquamve dedit. Līvia tamen laeta in angiportibus mūrēs captābat et cōnsūmēbat. “quam fēlīx sum,” sibi dīcēbat, “quod, istō dominō meō mortuō, ego supersum! ō mūrēs, mī mūrēs, ubi estis? nōnne cōnsūmī vultis? ossa vestra exspuere volō, mī mūrēs!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • How do you like the story as a story?
  • What do you think of our characters’ fates … especially that of Flavius Caeso?
  • What about Livia the mustēla? Like her mom Sabina, she’s quite persistent when it comes to chasing mice! 🙂
  • And what do you think of our use of ōrātiō oblīqua in this story?

Tune in next time, when we’ll take a closer look at a critically important issue: the development of vocabulary in the Tres Columnae system. How will we distinguish “core” vocabulary from “recognition” vocabulary, and how will we go about introducing and practicing new words in the context of our Joyful Learning Community? If you’ve been with us for a while, you may remember a series of posts about vocabulary from a few months ago, but we’ll go into more detail this time. In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus, respondentibus, et scrībentibus! We’re so glad that you’re part of our Joyful Learning Community.

Perfect and Future Infinitives, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! veniam vestram petō quod tam tardus haec scrībō! 🙂 You may have noticed that, in a normal week, there are blog posts at least five days a week (Monday through Friday), and there’s often a post on Saturday as well. Unfortunately, last week was not very normal, and there were only four posts. I’ll try to do better this time :-), and I appreciate you for continuing to read.

In a normal week, I sit down over the weekend, plan out blog posts for the coming week, and write drafts of the first few by the end of the day on Sunday. That way, Monday’s post is ready to go, and those for Tuesday and Wednesday are usually in pretty good shape … so even if “life intervenes,” as it sometimes does, we’re able to keep to a regular schedule. Then, on Tuesday evenings, I work on the posts for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Somehow that didn’t happen last week … but a lot of “intervening life” did, including a constellation of meetings and other evening activities on Wednesday and Thursday. So that’s why there wasn’t a post on Thursday, and it’s also why Friday’s post wasn’t followed by one on Saturday.

In any case, I had promised you a look at the presentation of the remaining infinitives in the Tres Columnae system, as well as a set of stories that use ōrātiō oblīqua with the non-present infinitives. We’ve already looked at perfect active infinitives last week, so today we’ll consider the perfect passives and deponents. Those are fairly simple once you understand the workings of the perfect participle (and its role in forming the perfect passive and deponent verb system), so we doubt that our learners will have too much difficulty. We’ll begin with a fabella like this:

  • heri Fabius tremōrēs sēnsit.
  • heri tremōrēs ā Fabiō sēnsī sunt.
  • hodiē Fabius sollicitus dīcit tremōrēs heri sēnsōs esse.
  • heri Caeliōla in hortō aliquid mīrī olfēcit.
  • heri aliquid mīrī ā Caeliōla olfactum est.
  • hodiē Caeliōla mātrī dīcit aliquid mīrī heri olfactum esse.
  • tertiā ante diē Caelius Cnaeum vituperāvit.
  • tertiā ante diē Cnaeus ā Caeliō vituperātus est.
  • heri Secunda Prīmae scrīpsit Cnaeum ā Caeliō vituperātum esse.

And then, as usual, we’ll find a quick explanation:

quid novī?

You probably noticed something different about the ōrātiō oblīqua in this fabella, too. Once again, there was a new type of infinītīvus in use:

Its action is marked as completed at the time of the main verb in its sentence or clause, so it’s perfective in aspect.

Its genus, however, is passīvus rather than actīvus.

The Romans called these infinītīvus temporis praeteritī perfectī (et plūsquamperfectī) generis passīvī. English speakers usually call them “perfect passive infinitives” for short.

I’m sure you can imagine the exercises and the self-assessment cycle with which our learners will build up their comfort with the new infinitives. We’ll use a similar cycle, of course, with both the future active and future passive infinitives … yes, even the “rare” future passives, which really are quite common if you read, for example, Cicero’s letters.

Once we know about all the major types of infinitives, we’ll experience them in their full glory 🙂 in stories where various characters recount their escape from Herculaneum (and other characters’ unsuccessful attempts – heu! vae!), describe their current feelings, and explore their plans and hopes for the future.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Does it seem reasonable to you to introduce ōrātiō oblīqua in this way, near the end of what might be the equivalent of a “traditional” Latin I course or (depending on the learner’s or teacher’s pacing) the beginning of Latin II?
  • If not, when would you put this concept? And what other changes in our order of presentation do you think we should make?
  • On the whole, how are you feeling about your introduction to the Tres Columnae project?
  • Have you had the chance to explore the Version Alpha Wiki? If so, what do you think … especially now that there are images and audio for much of Lectiō I?
  • And do you think you – or your students – would be interested in subscribing after the end of the free-trial period?
  • And, if so, what type of subscription would you be interested in? And would it make a difference if cost were not an object?

Tune in next time for a summary of your responses, and for an example of a story where all 6 infinitives appear (naturally, we hope) in a meaningful context. And in the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Perfect and Future Infinitives, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! In yesterday’s post, I closed by saying

Now that we know how participles work, it will be a lot easier to deal with the perfect passive and future active infinitives, won’t it? 🙂 We’ll also find out a bit more about our characters’ experiences during the eruption of Vesuvius … and afterwards.

This next series of posts will deal with these three points in order, beginning with the presentation of the non-present infinitive system in Tres Columnae. Then, over the weekend and early next week, we’ll look at some of the stories about our characters’ experiences during the eruption of Vesuvius. We’ve already seen what happened to Caelius and Cnaeus in this post, which quotes a story that can be found here on the Tres Columnae website. We’ll have more to say about the presentation of vocabulary after that!

By the time that we reach Lectiōnēs XXVII and XXVIII, the eruption has occurred, and our surviving characters have the opportunity to retell their experiences (a natural setting for ōrātiō oblīqua with perfect-system infinitives) and to make plans for the future (which can reasonably involve the future infinitives). Here’s how the introduction of perfect infinitives will work, beginning with the perfect actives in this fabella:

  • Cāius cum mātre apud Lolliam et Vipsānium in urbe Neāpolī manēbat.
  • Lollia trīstis, “cūr pater nōn effūgit?” frātrem mātremque rogāvit.
  • “nōnne pater fortissimus erat? nihil perīculī timuit?” respondit Cāius.
  • Valeria haud crēdēbat Lollium nihil perīculī timuisse.
  • Caelius in domō urbānā lacrimāns stābat.
  • “pater, cūr lacrimās?” rogāvit Cnaeus. “nōnne fortūnātissimī sumus, quod iam vīvimus?”
  • Caelius, “mī fīlī, iste mōns vīllās nostrās dēlēvit. iste mōns multum pecūniae cōnsūmpsit. et tū asinus stultissimus fuistī, quod urbem Pompēiōs petere mihi iterum suādēbās!”
  • Cnaeus libenter cōnsēnsit sē asinum stultissimum fuisse.

As usual, there is a brief explanation:

quid novī?

You probably noticed something about the ōrātiō oblīqua in this fabella. The infinitives were different!

In each case, the action of the ōrātiō oblīqua is marked for completion before the main verb in the sentence:

  • Lollius was already done with his lack of fear (and, in fact, was dead as a result!) before Valeria found his stupidity difficult to believe!
  • Cnaeus was already done being stupid (or, at least, advising Dad to go to Pompeii because it’s a shorter trip!) before he admitted this.

So a perfective-aspect infinitive was needed! And that’s what timuisse and fuisse are. Donatus and the grammaticī called this form infinītīvus temporis praeteritī perfectī (et plusquamperfectī). English speakers usually call it a “perfect active infinitive” for short.

What I find amazing – and very revealing – is that Donatus calls this form the infinītīvus temporis praeteritī perfectī et plusquamperfectī, while he calls the “present” infinitive the infinītīvus temporis praesentis et praeteritī inperfectī. I think it’s clear that the distinction, for Donatus, is between completed, or perfective action (the perfectī et plusquamperfectī) and incomplete, or imperfective action (the praesentis et praeteritī inperfectī).  In other words, infinitives are “about” aspect rather than tense!

If you’re a veteran reader of this blog, I’m sure you can imagine the cycle of self-assessment and exercises that we’ll use to practice the new forms. And then, of course, we’ll see the deponent and passive perfect infinitives, which we’ll look at in more detail tomorrow, and then the futures.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • I’m not sure how many Classicists read what the Romans themselves said about their language! Until I started working on the Tres Columnae project, I must confess that I had only scanned and skimmed through the grammaticī. Was that a defect of my preparation and personal reading, or is it common?
  • Obviously the grammaticī didn’t have a perfectly scientific understanding of the grammar of their language, but still … they were native speakers, or were trained by native speakers! At the same time, they were deeply influenced by the Greek grammarians, and they may have (consciously or unconsciously) attempted to force Latin into Hellenic categories. (Ironically, English grammarians of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in turn, tried to fit English into Latinate categories … I once saw an old English grammar book that presented the “declension of the English noun” with five or six cases, all of course the same except for the possessives!) How much stock do you think we should put in their ideas or their terminology?
  • More directly on our topic, do you find the fabellae comprehensible and reasonable?
  • And what do you think of the grammatical explanations?

Tune in next time for a bit more about the presentation of the infinitive system, and for a story or two. And, in the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus et respondentibus.

A Story with Participles

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Here, as promised, is the one of the first “real” Tres Columnae story that features participles qua participles, not just as slightly-unusual adjectives.  It was originally scheduled to appear on Wednesday, but life intervened! 🙂  In Tuesday’s post, we looked at the introduction of the aspect of participles and at some of the exercises that we’ll use to practice the idea. We deliberately said very little about the voice of participles; we’ll look at that in more detail later.

A bit of background: as you may recall, if you’ve been reading for a while, the Tres Columnae metastory features three primary families:

  • the wealthy Valeriī;
  • the rather poor Lolliī, their clients; and
  • the very wealthy Caeliī (Valerius’ wife is the sister of Caelius the paterfamiliās).

Many of the stories we’ve shared have focused on the children of each family:

  • Lucius Valerius, his older sister Valeria, and their little sister Caeliōla;
  • Cāius Lollius and his big sister Lollia; and, of course,
  • Caelia Prīma, Caelia Secunda, and their annoying little brother Cnaeus.

By the time of Lectiō XXIV, the girls are all old enough (at least in the Roman world) to be married, and there are a number of weddings in this part of the Metastory. There are probably also some bruised feelings, as children who have grown up together (and, if human nature hasn’t changed that much, possibly had crushes on each other from time to time) are moved into the adult roles required by Roman arranged marriage. Another factor, of course, is the difference in social standing among the families: Valerius, as we’ve seen, is unusually solicitous of this set of clients (and we still don’t quite know why!), but the Lollii are of a distinctly lower social standing than their equestrian patrōnus. We’ll explore the social and emotional issues along with the linguistic ones in the stories in this Lectiō.

In any case, with Valerius’ help, Lollius has arranged for his daughter to marry young Marcus Vipsānius, a slightly-poorer cousin of Valerius’ daughter’s future husband. In this story, we see the family preparing for their daughter’s upcoming wedding. If you’ve read Cicero’s letters regarding his daughter (especially when he mourns her untimely death), you’ll see the inspiration for Lollius’ emotional reaction. Of course, the “official” party line among Roman men was that daughters were distinctly inferior to sons….

Maccia in cēnāculō stābat et lacrimās retinēre temptābat. Lollia mātrem lacrimantem audīvit et sollicita “māter mea, cūr lacrimās?” rogāvit. “num trīstis es, quod diēs nūptiārum meārum advenit?” Maccia ā Lolliā sīc interrogāta, “ō mea fīlia,” respondit, “lacrimās laetās effundō! mātrem tamen decet lacrimāre cum fīlia nūptūra sit. tertiā enim post diē tū mātrōna et uxor eris! tertiā enim diē ille Mārcus Vipsānius tē in mātrimōnium dūcet! laetissima sum; ergō lacrimō.”

Lollia “ō māter mea, tē amplectī cupiō!” exclāmāvit. mātrem vehementer amplexa sē quoque lacrimīs trādidit. Cāius ūlūlātūs fēminārum audīvit et attonitus, “heu! num quis mortuus est? num in servitūtem pater vōs vēndit? num in servitūtem nunc iam vēnītis? cūr igitur lacrimātis?” rogāvit. fēminae tamen haec dicta neglegēbant et continuō lacrimābant. Cāius attonitus “fēminās īnsānās! vae virīs!” exclāmāvit et per iānuam cēnāculī celeriter exiit. “domum Valeriī festīnō, ubi omnēs iam mentis sānae sunt!” ēgrediēns clāmāvit, et iānuam firmē clausit.

Maccia fīliō ēgressō valēdīxit et “virōs īnsānōs! nihil intellegunt! vae fēminīs!” exclāmāvit. tum Lollia et Maccia cachinnīs, nōn lacrimīs, sē trādidērunt. Lollius, ē popīnā regressus, fīliam et uxōrem cachinnantēs per fenestram audīvit. “vae mihi!” sēcum susurrāvit, “quid nunc? mē valdē taedet nūptiārum! quārtā post diē maximē laetābor, quod fīnem īnsāniārum vīderō!”

haec verba locūtus Lollius ad popīnam regressus “heus caupō!” exclāmāvit, “fer mihi pōculum maximum!” mox caupō attonitus Lollium quoque lacrimantem cōnspexit. “num ēbrius es, mī amīce?” rogāvit sollicitus. “multōs enim per annōs tē amīcum habeō, numquam tamen tē ebrium cōnspiciō? quid agis?”

Lollius haec rogātus rīdēre temptābat et, “mī amīce,” respondit, “tertiā post diē fīliam in matrimōnium ductam vidēbō. lacrimō ergō quod laetus sum.” caupō, “certē, mī amīce,” respondit, “nōnne ego quoque nūptiās fīliārum quattuor iam celebrāvī? nōnne laetissimus quoque sum, quod iuvenēs optimī eās dūxērunt?” tum caupō pōculum vīnō implēvit. pōculum vīnō implētum hausit et lacrimīs quoque sē trādidit.

As you might imagine, reading-comprehension questions will focus on the time (or aspect) relationships between the participles and the sentences in which they occur. For example, consider the sequence in the second and third paragraphs:

Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō, ubi omnēs iam mentis sānae sunt!” ēgrediēns clāmāvit, et iānuam firmē clausit. Maccia fīliō ēgressō vale dīxit et “virōs īnsānōs! nihil intellegunt! vae fēminīs!” exclāmāvit.

We’ll ask questions like this:

quandō Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō” clāmāvit?

  • postquam exiit
  • quandō exībat
  • priusquam exīret

Learners who correctly choose quandō exībat receive positive feedback like this:

ita vērō! ēgrediēns is a participium temporis praesentis, so the exiting is not marked for completion.  It happened at the same time as his shout.

Those who choose the other responses receive corrective feedback like this:

heus! Please take a closer look at the word ēgrediēns. cuius temporis participium est?

with choices of praesentis, perfectī, or futūrī. If they correctly choose praesentis, they see this:

ita vērō! So, since a participium temporis praesentis is imperfective, quandō Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō” clāmāvit?

If they wrongly choose perfectī or futūrī, we’ll probably send them back on a “loop” through the quid novī cycle about participial aspect or tense, as we described it in yesterday’s post.

We’ll also ask this question about the next sentence:

quandō Maccia fīliō vale dīxit?

  • postquam Cāius exiit
  • quandō Cāius exībat
  • priusquam Cāius exīret

Again, if you correctly choose postquam exiit, you’ll receive sustaining feedback:

ita vērō! ēgressō is a participium temporis perfectī, so the exiting is marked as complete before Maccia spoke. If you are (or ever have been) a teenager, you may be familiar with conversations that involve slammed doors! 🙂

Otherwise, you can probably imagine the cycle of feedback.

quid respondētis, amīcissimī?

  • First, what do you think of the story itself?
    • Do you find it culturally authentic … or at least plausible?
    • Or are you skeptical of so much emotion from those “stoic” Romans?
  • Then, what do you think of the use of participles?
    • And what do you think of the comprehension questions?
    • And what about the feedback for correct and incorrect answers?
  • For those who haven’t tried using Latin questions to get at the meaning and the grammar of a passage, can you see how this could actually be made to work in your classroom or learning situation?
  • Or are you still skeptical?

Tune in next time (which may be Saturday, not Friday, depending on life!), when we’ll take a look at your comments … and we’ll also return to our previous theme of infinitives. Now that we know how participles work, it will be a lot easier to deal with the perfect passive and future active infinitives, won’t it? 🙂 We’ll also find out a bit more about our characters’ experiences during the eruption of Vesuvius … and afterwards.  In the process, we’ll also take up the issue of participles’ voice.

In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus et respondentibus. Please keep those comments, emails, and Trial Subscription requests coming!

Introducing Participles, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! As I promised in yesterday’s post, we’ll look at the way that Tres Columnae handles the formal introduction of participles today … or, to be more specific, at the introduction of participles as distinct from other adjectives or nōmina. Though we start to see present, perfect, and future participles fairly early as adjectives, we’ll wait until Lectiō XXIV for a formal introduction of the verbal side of participles. By then, our participants are thoroughly familiar with

  • adjective agreement;
  • verbal aspect; and
  • the relationship between aspect and a verb’s stem (i.e., that imperfective-aspect forms are made from the infinitive, while perfective-aspect forms are made from the third or fourth principal part of the verb).

With this background, we think participles will be a relatively trouble-free addition to our learners’ repertoire of forms and constructions.

So we’ll begin with fabellae like these:

  • ōlim Lollia in cēnāculō sedēbat.
  • Maccia cēnāculum intrāvit et circumspectāvit.
  • Maccia Lolliam in cēnāculō sedentem cōnspexit et salūtāvit.
  • Lollius vōcem Macciae Lolliam salūtantis nōn audīvit.
  • hodiē Cāius per viam ambulat.
  • Lūcius per viam currit.
  • Lūcius Cāium per viam ambulantem salūtat.
  • Lūcius, per viam currēns, Cāium salūtat.
  • Lūcius, per viam currēns, Cāium per viam ambulantem salūtat.

And then, as always, we move on to a brief explanation:

quid novī?

From very early in Cursus Prīmus, we’ve seen words like sedentem, ambulantem, and currēns. We treated them as if they were the type of nōmen that English speakers would call an adjective; that is, a nōmen that describes another nōmen. But you may have noticed that sedentem, ambulantem, currēns, and salūtantis are also verba – that is, they’re forms of verbs like sedēre, ambulāre, currere, and salūtāre. Because they’re partly verba and partly nōmina, the Latin word for these types of words is participium.

We move on, as always, to a cycle of self-assessment:

On our normal scale from 1-5, how well could you recognize a participium? Would you like an additional explanation?

You can probably imagine the self-checking exercise that will appear if you say you don’t want an additional explanation, or if you rate yourself at a 4 or 5. If you do want more explanations, or if you rate yourself at 3 or below, you’ll see this:

quid novī?

Take another look at the participia in these sentences:

  • Maccia Lolliam in cēnāculō sedentem cōnspexit et salūtāvit.
  • Lollius vōcem Macciae Lolliam salūtantis nōn audīvit.
  • Lūcius, per viam currēns, Cāium per viam ambulantem salūtat.

You probably noticed another thing about the participia we’ve seen in this Lectiō: they are imperfective in aspect.

  • They’re made from the infinītīvus, the imperfective stem
  • Their action is ongoing (or, at least, not completed) at the time of the main verb in their sentence.

The Roman term was participium temporis praesentis. English speakers usually call them present participles for short.

Of course, there are also perfective-aspect participles, the participium temporis praeteritī. We’ll see some examples of those in the next fabella.

And then, of course, we’ll see this little fabella:

  • Cnaeum Caelius audīvit. Cnaeus enim “vae! heu!” identidem clāmābat.
  • Caelius Cnaeum arcessīvit. Caelius Cnaeum arcessītum castīgābat.
  • Prīma et Secunda in vīllā librōs legēbant. Planesium puellās cōnspexit et laudāvit. puellae laudātae nūruī fābulās nārrābant.

After it, we see this explanation:

quid novī?

Take another look at the participia temporis praeteritī in these sentences.

  • Caelius Cnaeum arcessītum castīgābat.
  • puellae laudātae nūruī fābulās nārrābant.

Now compare them with some participia temporis praesentis:

  • Ūtilis Caelium Cnaeum arcessentem audīvit.
  • Fortūnāta Planesium puellās laudantem audīvit.

Can you see and hear the difference between these two types of participia?

  • The participia temporis praesentis were formed from the infinītīvus, the imperfective stem.
  • The participia temporis praeteritī were formed from the supīnus.

I’m sure you can imagine the self-evaluation cycle. But I do want to show you one of the exercises: you, the learner, will be to choose the right participle to summarize or combine the two sentences, paying attention to the aspect of the verb you’re changing:

Cnaeus in agrīs Ūtilem quaerēbat. Lupus in silvā proximā rem tōtam spectābat.

Lupus in silvā proximā Cnaeum in agrīs Ūtilem ____ spectābat.

quaerentem / quaesītum

In this case, you’ll choose quaerentem because it accurately reflects the time relationship. Cnaeus was searching while the wolf was watching him, so we need an imperfective-aspect participium temporis praesentis.

canēs Lupum olfēcērunt. canēs vehementer lātrābant et Lupum agitāre volēbant.

Canēs vehementer lātrābant et Lupum ____ agitāre volēbant.

olfacientem / olfactum

In this case, you’ll choose olfactum. The dogs smelled the wolf before they started barking, so we need a perfective-aspect participium temporis praeteritī.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Do you find this treatment of participles to be helpful, or confusing?
  • More importantly, do you think that learners will find it helpful or confusing?
  • Does it make sense to you to separate the issues of case and number (the nōmen issues, as we’ve called them) from those of aspect and voice (the verbum issues)?
  • And do you want to know what we’ll say about voice of participles? Or are you, perhaps, hoping that we’ll finesse that issue for a bit?

Tune in next time for an actual early story with participles. Then we’ll talk more about voice, and on Friday we’ll return to infinitives with the perfect and future infinitives. Of course, we think you have to talk about participles before you talk about those, since many of them are made from participles! And, in the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus! Please keep those comments, emails and Free Trial Subscription requests coming … there’s still a bit of room if you’re interested!