Michael Nicholson 29 Degrees (including a Doctorate)

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Garp, Jan 29, 2023.

  1. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes. That's key. Learn Latin grammar and you have a VERY useful framework to impose (gently) on English and many other languages. Greek too - Latin left out a couple of things the Greeks had - e.g. aorist and middle voice.

    I was taught English grammar well in the old days - and learning the Latin framework, that helped in other languages, was much easier with it. Besides, around 65% of English words are Latin-derived - either directly or via Latin-derived words in early French - e.g. Norman period. The best thing that happened to my English vocabulary was Latin. My teachers told me it would be - and they were right.
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  2. Rachel83az

    Rachel83az Well-Known Member

    The problem with learning Latin to know English like that is that English is a Germanic language. A lot of the grammatical features in Latin just... don't apply to English. (To be fair, a lot of Germanic structures also don't apply to English.) It's part of why English can have things like split infinitives; even though such a thing is impossible in Latin. But, over the years, we've had a lot of people trying to treat English as if it's a Latin language and that's no good.
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  3. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I didn't study Latin, but I studied Spanish, and the grammar was very different. I heard that Dutch and Danish are easier for English speakers to learn in comparison to German. When I was in 6th grade honors English, I remember that my teacher taught that 60% of English vocabulary is derived from Latin and Greek. I've since learned that this is a little misleading. Many of these Latin and Greek words are professional jargon, many of the French-derived words have Germanic equivalents that we still use, the everyday words from Latin came from French, and French is influenced by German making it one of the least Latin Romance languages. Which language people chose to use (French vs English) was more of a class thing during Norman control of England. The English language has a lot of redundancy.

    The French people have an interesting history. They were originally Celtic, and several Germanic tribes moved in overtaking the area, which is why some DNA companies that test for ancestry group the French and Germans together.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
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  4. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes, Rachel. German (and Germanic) grammars have their differences from Latin, but they have similarities, too. Latin and Germanic came from the same branch of the Indo-European tree. Modern German has four noun cases (Latin has six), distinct verb conjugations, nouns that decline (change endings for different cases), most of the same verb tenses exist. And I remember Grade 12 - the "Year of the Subjunctive." We learned the subjunctive mood in Latin, French and German at the same time. I'm glad I knew it in English first! Sometimes knowing English helps with Latin. Not that often...

    Split Infinitives? Right. They're two words in English but only one in Latin - e.g. amare - to love. Hard to split one word. They're one word in German, some uses needing a whole different construction, e.g "I don't know what to do...Ich weiß nicht, was ich tun soll.

    But if you know Latin - you know grammar, period. You go on to other languages, you recognize their differences from Latin. Like infinitives, different number of cases, etc. For example, Russian and Polish have one more case (7) than Latin, other Slavic languages, e.g Ukrainian (which has four cases) have less than Latin. Do nouns decline (change endings with cases) or is it all done with prepositions, e.g French, Italian etc.? The verb system - conjugations and tenses etc. may not be identical to Latin - or even that close - but the next language will have these aspects- and you'll be immediately used to the concept and know what to look for - and where.

    I still maintain if you know Latin - you know grammar - at least for Western languages. And that will help you master other languages - including English, as many people have not learned English grammar completely. If you know grammar, per se (and Latin is the best way I know to achieve that) then you'll easily understand all the differences you'll find in studying other languages.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
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  5. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    Agreed. Ecce, consentimus!
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  6. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    It's usually easier for English speakers to pick up Latin-based languages because of vocabulary similarities but not grammar similarities. Latin languages tend to be SOV (Subject-Object-Verb). English is SVO (Subject-Verb-Object). Some of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn are non-Indo-European languages because they have fewer verb tenses and are SVO. It's easier to drop verb tenses than to add more. The number and kinds of verb tenses can vary widely within a language family. Sometimes, two unrelated languages can have similar verb tenses. It's also easier for English speakers to not have to worry about masculine and feminine.

    If you want to learn a language that has retained the most Proto-Indo-European features, then learn Lithuanian.
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  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    No they didn't! I lied - my bad. Both Latin and Germanic languages came from Indo-European. BUT from two separate branches. Proto-Indo European dates from about 5,000 BCE. The Germanic branch began its split-off around 3.300 BCE and the Italic branch (which included Latin) started around 3,000 BCE. Sorry!

    Good chart here: https://www.uottawa.ca/clmc/indo-european-family
  8. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes - English is SVO and Latin itself, is definitely SOV. But the "Latin languages" are generally SVO - eg. French, Italian Spanish etc.
    Spanish has its unique VS word-order in some places - e.g. "Es puerta de la luz, un libro abierto." (An open book is the gateway to light.) However, in general, it's SVO as well.

    And word order is one feature of grammar. My point: knowing grammar per se helps one identify differences and get used to them more easily. If you realize word order is an important difference up front, it's easier to adapt. Knowing what to look for is half the battle.

    PS: "Es puerta de la luz, un libro abierto." That's the first Spanish sentence I ever sat down and learned - from a Beginner's Spanish textbook in the Library when I was about 16. I thought it was beautiful, then. I still do.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
  9. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Another less-eloquent VS order Spanish sentence I learned: "Esta malo el tocadiscos." The record-player is on the fritz. :)

    And why did SOV not persist in the Latin-related languages? I'm guessing maybe, because Latin was imposed (by Roman conquest) on the local people, who had their own languages. They adopted Latin as best they could, but some aspects were so totally foreign and difficult, they weren't well absorbed. Perhaps
    the SOV word order was one. Just a guess. And perhaps, once there was no more Roman Empire, and no Roman soldiers around to hear ... anything went. The priests who were there by this time knew proper Latin --- but they could only do so much... again, theorizing.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
  10. Rachel83az

    Rachel83az Well-Known Member

    AFAIK, even during the Roman period, and in Italy, there was "proper" Latin and then there was what the "peasants" spoke. We don't really know what it sounded like, but there are a couple of mentions in ancient documents. Probably not all that dissimilar to modern Italian vs. the Italian "dialects" in the same region. Some are very close to official Italian, others bear little resemblance to "proper" Italian.
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  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Right, about dialects. We have people in this town from all over Italy and Sicily. From the countryside, it's hard to even make out a few words. Standard Italian - much easier. I've even heard of courses here, to help dialect speakers learn Standard Italian. Wow, so there are remedial courses in other languages besides English. Who knew?

    And right again. There' are usually "proper" and "vernacular" side by side. Latin is no exception and the differences can be wide.
    Among the differences, I guess we could include word order. Latin itself is not 100% SOV although that's the way we learned, strictly, as beginners in high school. It says here "Latin word order is relatively free." With a big explanation. I know in Medieval Latin - word order was often whatever the writer chose. When in Rome - do as the Romans do. If in Provence or Andalusia -- whatever seems right.

    BTW years ago - I noticed some word connections between Gaelic and Latin - which are from different branches of Indo European (Celtic and Italic) that split off around the same time. Some people thought I was crazy - (or maybe that was a separate issue) but I read later that I was at least part-right. Early Rome's neighbours were mostly Celts and there was a lot of borrowing back and forth. (e.g. Celts were, in early times better road-builders than the Romans, who learned a lot from them.) For the languages, we have proximity and reasonably close Indo-European origins to suggest there would be the odd vocabulary similarity.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Anyway, it definitely felt like an advantage to me, to study Latin at a fairly young age. (12-17). It definitely influenced my written English for the better - and helped me make sense of other languages - some for vocabulary, all for grammar, fairly quickly.

    Like Sideman, I wish it were an advantage that young students here could have today. It still is, in much of Europe. For instance, I know people in Germany, whose children are studying Latin in high school - and enjoying the process.

    BTW - I wonder if Dr. Nicholson has ever studied Latin? I know he studied Koine (Bible Greek) and Hebrew. Maybe he's saving it for his 31st degree? :)
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
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  13. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Yes, Spanish is definitely SVO. I should have said Latin and not Latin languages.
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  14. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Thanks. No biggie. :)
  15. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes. For sure. But many aren't. Here are some Latin-origin ones that aren't - all I could write down in a few minutes. There are long, long lists out there like crazy.

    Agenda, avarice, atrocity, abdomen, grateful, horticulture, reduce, remain, regulate, respect, ridicule, respect, ridicule, military, memory, mile, minimum, minor, miserable, modem (modulator and demodulator - both Latin origins) mountain, manufacture, satisfy, savage, science, second, secret, senator, tactile, tempo, terrify, transport, urban, value, video, village, vision, vivacious...

    And if you find a few somewhere, that appear to have been squeezed through a French sieve - that's OK. The ones that qualify all started out as Latin. We don't count the Germanic-origin ones referred to earlier.

    OK - many Latin words are professional jargon in English, many aren't. If someone said "most" or "all" (which NOBODY did) - well, I'm normally a pussycat, as everyone here knows - but I would have had to call it a "ridiculous assertion." There - two more Latin words that weren't on that particular list. Cheers. :)
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2023
  16. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Dang that timer - I left out this paragraph about Germanic names in French:

    And if you find a few (words) somewhere (on these lists) , that appear to have been squeezed through a French sieve - that's OK. The ones that qualify all started out as Latin. We don't count the Germanic-origin ones absorbed into French, referred to earlier. And that's a lot of words. The first Kings of France were all Germanic speakers. There was a day, when all men named Charles (Carolus in Latin) were actually Karls, and all men named Louis were, at first, Ludwigs. King Clovis was actually named something like Chlodovecus in Latin, Hlodowig in his native Frankish. Yep - another Ludwig. :)
  17. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    If you know grammar itself (no matter how you learned it) differences won't bother you. you'll spot them and know right away how they work. there are other ways, I guess, to learn grammar (as a subject - not specific to one language) but Latin is the only way I got a better grasp of it. Hundreds of years ago, grammar and rhetoric were two distinct subjects, among the basic seven, in British Universities. And Latin was the classroom (and written) language.

    If you know (thoroughly) the subject of grammar, you'll be in a much better position to deal with these circumstances. You'll know what to look for, right from the start - and be able to construct a framework that will help you adapt.

    In Non-western languages? Bantu languages in Africa have up to TWELVE genders. Those three we know - m.f.n. and up to NINE separate genders for round objects, long objects and Lord knows what else. Grammar is your friend, here!

    Might I also suggest Hindi - or Sanskrit. We are, after all, talking of INDO-European languages.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2023
  19. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Those "basic subjects" in Universities in medieval Britain were:


    (1) Grammar
    (2) Logic
    (3) Rhetoric


    (4) Arithmetic
    (5) Astronomy
    (6) Music
    (7) Geometry
  20. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I read that, about Bantu languages in Grade 9 (1955-56) Today: Confirmed by Google:

    "The earlier Bantuist tradition treated nouns as being in different noun classes when singular and plural; we consider the total behaviour of a noun, including both its singular and its plural, with the result that a typical Bantu language may have 7-10 genders rather than around 20 noun classes."

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