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"Surely the city of New York is not in California?"

Translation:Num urbs Novum Eboracum in California est?

August 29, 2019

114 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RachaelSummer

I don't understand why they chose to use American cities etc when there are plenty of places in Europe that were actually around when Latin was alive.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/david395057

I have to agree, these American references are extremely tiresome and just take me out of the language.

I'm probably going to stop doing Latin on Duolingo; cookies, New York, California just makes it feel so artificial.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RickBradleyUSA

I, for one, am glad that we are not spending lots of time, right now, learning the Roman names of lots of places, as would rather be learning the language, but if it offends you so much to have a handful of United States names in a free language course made by unpaid volunteers, please either stop studying or find some scholars from the rest of the world to contribute to later courses. I would also like to thank all who are making this course for you work. I am enjoying it much more than the Latin classes I had years ago.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ampus_Questor

Rick, the point is that of all the millions of people whi live in NYC only a handful would know what Novum Eboracum means. Conversely, quite a few Parisians would know that Lutetia became Paris and even more Londoners that Londinium became London.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ReganCuthb

It's almost like we're here to learn new words and phrases in Latin or something..


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Damian981484

Some variety in city names or places would be appreciated. It would make the lessons more interesting.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard-IX

Especially cities or places that the Romans would have known.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard-IX

You are no doubt aware that America had not been discovered at the time Latin was spoken. Any reference to California, New York, et hoc genus omne, must essentially be artificial and in my view detracts from the authenticity of this learning experience. How would you describe an aeroplane or an airport to an ancient Roman? The best you could do would be to describe a large bird that carries people , but this would not have been credited at the time. Surely the aim in any study of the Latin language is to learn how they communicated, and not invent concepts and words which they would not have understood. When I was at grammar school in England I was fortunate enough to have a Latin master who had a double first at Oxford, and contributed enormously to my love of learning. At university one of my Latin professors had served at Bletchley Park in WWII. They loved their subject and were true scholars, Introducing random artificial words such as American place names which cannot have existed when Latin was spoken can only be viewed as detracting from a fascinating yet serious subject.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaCasa0

"You are no doubt aware that America had not been discovered at the time Latin was spoken." This is incorrect. Latin was used and spoken for centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. It's a language like any other, and it evolves with time. Using modern place names in Latin is not "artificial".

By your logic, we shouldn't be allowed to conduct Mass in Latin because Ancient Romans wouldn't have understood the concept of "Spiritus Sanctus".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Theo639847

The catholic church has adopted the Latin that was spoken abt. two centuries A. D. Latin was at that time still the language used in the Roman Empire.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ste-n-Dee

Introducing random artificial words such as American place names which cannot have existed when Latin was spoken can only be viewed as detracting from a fascinating yet serious subject.

Given the existence of this lesson, clearly you are mistaken.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrendaniusFruust

America had been discovered, just not by europeans. Not trying to be pedantic, as it's an important wording distinction.

That said, I disagree, I think Latin would be able to find names from within their own syntactic understanding for modern place names, as would any language--from any time in history. There is no teleology to language. The Latin language in 500bc when rome dethroned the kings was no more or less sophisticated than the latin language when rome's empire fell.

There's not some perfect platonic Latin that will be corrupted by modern place names. Modern place names use fundamentally the same linguistic building blocks that existed in roman times [because they have existed since we became human beings] and in an even more closely related sense, extremely similar languages to english existed then, via galli, early britons like iceni and dumnonii, in jutland and germania, etc. Romans managed to adapt Latin to those names then--and for 700+ years--with little trouble.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrendaniusFruust

Sorry, in a rush, so in this case by "modern place names" i meant "modern english/american" place names [which, by the way, virtually all come from a blend of latin, german, gallic etc] because that is what is being discussed here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Snazzie2

"You are no doubt aware that America had not been discovered at the time Latin was spoken. Any reference to California, New York, et hoc genus omne, must essentially be artificial and in my view detracts from the authenticity of this learning experience. "

New York may not have been known by the Romans but York in England certainly was, and it was of course called Eboracum. It is therefore hardly "inventing a new concept" to add Novum to it to make New York.

As for California it is a Spanish name and since Spanish has its roots in Latin and the word structure is identical to a first delcension noun, it is not a stretch to decline California as if it is a 1st declension noun.

As for other place names which may not have such an easy transliteration then one would presume you would do what the Romans (and conquerors all over the world did):

  1. Take the native place name and corrupt it into a version that does fit into their language structure or make up a new place name for it

eg. Saskatchewan in English which comes from ᑭᓯᐢᑳᒋᐘᓂ ᓰᐱᐩ kisiskāciwani-sīpiy ("swift flowing river") in the Cree language. (Reference: wikipedia)

Common Brittonic Eburākon, which means "yew tree place" from Proto-Celtic (cf. Old Irish ibar "yew-tree", Irish: iúr (older iobhar), Scottish Gaelic: iubhar, Welsh: efwr "alder buckthorn", Breton: evor "alder buckthorn"), combined with the proprietive suffix *-āko(n) "having".

The name was then Latinised by replacing the Celtic neuter nominative ending -on by its Latin equivalent -um, a common use noted also in Gaul and Lusitania (Reference: wikipedia)

So the placename in England now known as York was in proto-Celtic known as "Place of the Yew Trees" Ibarachain which then changed over time to the breton Eburakon into Early Latin as Eburacum and then later in Latin to Eboracum which eventually became York in English.

Ibarachain => Eburakon => Eburacum => Eboracum => York

  1. Ignore the existing native place name completely and give it a new name such as New York or Washington, for example.

In Roman times for example they named Ireland "Hibernia" (land of winter) rather than Latinising its native name Eire.

As for your next point: "How would you describe an aeroplane or an airport to an ancient Roman?"

Since Aeroplane's etymology comes from the Greek word Aero and the Latin word planus (which through French came to mean "to soar") I think that even if Romans had never seen a plane before they would probably get the general gist from the name itself.

You could say that for many names of modern things... car comes from the Latin carra meaning chariot. Telephone from the Ancient Greek "tele" meaning "over a great distance" and "phono" voice\sound, so it would not be difficult to extrapolate new words in a similar way.

A huge percentage of English words originate either directly or indirectly from Latin or Greek and many new words as they were discovered and needed such as intravenus can be described using original Latin words much like multitudes of existing English words are.

"The best you could do would be to describe a large bird that carries people , but this would not have been credited at the time."

Languages are living things that are constantly growing and adapted by those who use them, otherwise by your logic all anyone would be able to say is "urgh" because any time anyone came across something "artificial" or new they would think "oh there isn't a word for that thing so I'd better not make one up."

"Surely the aim in any study of the Latin language is to learn how they communicated, and not invent concepts and words which they would not have understood."

Surely YOU must realise that Latin itself changed over time from Early Latin to Classical Latin to Medieval Latin to Ecclesiastical Latin etc. In other words Latin itself grew and was adapted by those who spoke it and used it (including the Romans but also scholars from all over the world). So why should it be any different now?

Furthermore even the Romans themselves used "borrowed" words from many other languages. I'm only new to Latin but from what I can remember the entire 5th declension of nouns in Latin are words of Greek origin imported into Latin? Certainly there are a lot of Greek words and even Greek gods, and cultural elements that were imported into Latin and Latin culture much like in English we have words such as restaurant, kebab, shampoo, jodhpurs all borrowed from other languages because there wasn't an equivalent for them already existing.

"When I was at grammar school in England I was fortunate enough to have a Latin master who had a double first at Oxford, and contributed enormously to my love of learning. At university one of my Latin professors had served at Bletchley Park in WWII. They loved their subject and were true scholars, "

You are so lucky to have had such a wonderful education.

"Introducing random artificial words such as American place names which cannot have existed when Latin was spoken can only be viewed as detracting from a fascinating yet serious subject."

Is this your opinion or did your professors at Oxford express this opinion?

I would be surprised if it were the latter, because the Romans themselves introduced new words all of the time, and borrowed words from other languages so if your professors wanted to teach you Latin as the Romans would have learnt it then being introduced to new place names, and cultures was part of (in fact one of the main purpose of) learning both then and now.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gibteck

You can't say fairer than that!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew211782

Num urbs londinium in francia est?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Liz928806

The official seal of New York City contains the words "Sigillum Civitatis Novi Eboraci". Eboracum is the name the Romans gave the city of York in Britain when they were there.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard-IX

"Seal of the city of New York"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelRob240542

I'm not sure why they have to translate the name. The french duolingo lessons don't translate New York to Nouveau York.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew211782

That's true, but when the Romans came to Britannia, they named the original town Eboracum. When the pilgrim fathers settled in the Americas they took with them place names from their original country to make themselves feel more "at home" in their new lives.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dbux16

why is New York not genitive?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaCasa0

That would mean "the city that belongs to New York". The English sentence could just as well have been "surely the city New York is not in California"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alstrkw

I guess you are looking at the "of" and thinking that it does the same thing as the genitive does. In this case it's a bit of a distraction.

English "of" does a lot of different things, and so does the genitive, but they don't all overlap.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TiagoRodri856988

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0059:entry=urbs

Rarely, and mostly poet., with the name of the city in gen.: “urbs Patavi, Buthroti,” Verg. A. 1, 247; 3, 293: “Cassius in oppido Antiochiae cum omni exercitu,” Cic. Att. 5, 18, 1.—With adj. prop.: urbs Romana = Roma, Liv. 9, 41, 16; 22, 37, 12; 40, 36, 14; Flor. 1, 13, 21.—Of other cities (rare and post-class.): “Lampsacenae urbis salus,” Val. Max. 7, 3, ext. 4: in urbe Aquilejensi, Paul. v. S. Ambros. 32: “urbs urbium,” a metropolis, Flor. 2, 6, 35.

So in Classical Latin, urbs is properly Rome and no other city, which are oppidum, -i. Rarely, and post-Classically, urbs is used for other cities with an adjective (urbs Aquileiensis, urbs Lampsacena), or more rarely with genitive (urbs Patavi, oppidum Antiochiae, etc.)

I was not able to decode the dense information in the dictionary to find examples of urbs + nominative, but maybe it is there and I couldn't see it. However, clearly the genitive is warranted and Classical (if possibly poetic).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard-IX

Very interesting. Thank you for posting.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

It's a nominative, like in: The city "New York".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ampus_Questor

Or, even better, New York City: not an 'of' in sight to possibly mislead.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mari596047

Yes, in Spanish "la ciudad de Nueva York" would translate to a genitive in Latin. It should be genitive


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mari596047

Plus Novum Eborracum works as a noun complement to urbs, and that function is the one that the genitive does.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SineNmine

I think the same Almost in spanish the translation to latin, it would be genitive


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nerguy_pablo

Why does "Philadelphiae" work as a location marker but not "Californiae"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MagistraKate

The locative case is only used with the names of cities, towns, and small islands.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nerguy_pablo

Thanks! In school, locative wasn't of much prevalence because we mostly only translated into German, not vice versa. The Latin originals didn't have many locatives to offer as far as I remember.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mgaristova

Is 'num' only in interrogative sentences used ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vorobyey

More inconsistency. Verb at the end this time


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/James614376

As it should be.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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The copula "esse/to be" often comes between the subject and the subject complement, but it is not wrong to put it last.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mari596047

The verbs in Latin are usually at the end of the sentence. I think Duolingo puts them in the middle of the sentences just to make them easier to understand.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Isaac3972

"Novum Eboracum"

What's the difference between that and "Novi Eboracus"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lfd

There is no Novi Eboracus as far as I know, but Novum Eboracum and Novi Eboraci (in New York).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2618

Novum Eboracum is the nominative.

Novi Eboraci is the locative.

There is no "Novi Eboracus", you can't mix and match like that. There needs to be agreement.

https://www.duolingo.com/skill/la/places/tips-and-notes


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ana_Parsons

Trying to make sense of the grammar. I'm sorry is this is a stupid question. Okay, is it Novum Eboracum because it is the subject of the sentence? Where Novi Eboraci would be the locative because it is the direct object?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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Yes, it is Novum Eboracum because it is the subject.

No, the locative by definition can never be the direct object. The direct object is the accusative.

In English, when we say where something is, that would be the locative in Latin. Except the locative is reserved for the names of cities/towns, small islands, and a very small handful of common nouns such as "domus" and "rus". Typically it would be in + ablative.

I am in New York City.
Novi Eboraci sum.

I am in New York State.
In Novo Eboraco sum.

For more details, please see my comment below.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard-IX

Yes, it is Novum Eboracum because it is the subject of the sentence (nominative case). Novi Eboraci is the locative case but it is not the direct object (which would be accusative). The locative case can be roughly defined as 'at', 'in', 'on' or 'by'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaryOgbonna

Why is it only revolving around America why not any other country Plus America is not all that Latin but yet it's just emphasized there, I'm not happy with this


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew211782

We are told ad infinitum, ad nauseam that this is an American program: the rest of us access it on sufferance and the fact that the Romans didn't make it that far west is immaterial!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sarah-Jayn602030

Another vote for "it's weird', as many other have pointed out to have American city names. Otherwise, Duolingo is Aces :-D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve83777

Though interestingly, those American names have Latin roots. America itself is a Latin word directly slurped into English. (Yes it was coined relatively recently but it was coined in Latin, not Spanish or English) New York is actually named after some obscure British hamlet called York, which is simply the modern pronunciation of its old Latin name from Roman Britain which was Eboracum.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elin.7-1

Quote "obscure British hamlet"

PMSL https://yorkminster.org/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve83777

Sorry I was just being facetious. Yeah, York is a prominent town with a long rich history dating back to early Roman Britain.

Here is the wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/York

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eboracum


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elin.7-1

And I was showing my appreciation of your joke :o)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roland230394

The fact that we are learning American vities instead of european ones, at least those with actual history in latin, really removes me from the learning experience.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard-IX

I agree. (I imagine you mean 'cities'.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roland230394

Yes, it was a typo on my phone.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DoreenPrimrose

Could it be 'Eboracum Novum' instead of 'Novum Eboracum' if word order is not important?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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Latin word order is flexible. That does not mean it's irrelevant.

As for Eboracum Novum vs Novum Eboracum, if it were a common noun phrase maybe, but this is the proper name of a place, and as such they tend to be fixed.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/John481518

I thought I read somewhere that you don't need to use urbs when you are referring to a specific city; Roma is sufficient. Urbs Roma is not necessary. But I was marked wrong for leaving out the urbs here. Am I wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sinnekka

weird... i left urbs out and it passed as correct


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andrew48

It's no different than in English. We don't need to say "the city Rome" in English, but we can if we are trying to be more explicit.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hayes_Danny

Is "Num" a word which begins a questioning sentence? All problems I have had with "Num" have been questions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoshuaCasa0

Yes. Num introduces a question that presupposes a negative answer.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hayes_Danny

Thank you very much!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2618

Yes. "Num" starts sentences and roughly means "Surely it's not the case that...?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard658237

How do we know when something modern is going to have a locative or not?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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The rules haven't changed. The locative only applies to the names of cities, towns, and small islands (as well as a small handful of common nouns). California is not a city, town, or small island, so it does not take the locative.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard658237

Yes OK but the 'rules' are not consistent. New York is a state and has been assigned a locative. I am aware it is also a city but there are sentences where 'New York City' are mentioned separately, as well as examples where NY is talked about as a state in the locative.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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That might be an issue in the answer databases, but the city of New York takes the locative and the state of New York does not. This does not reflect on how Latin does or does not work, this is a matter of what the volunteer course contributors have in the various answer databases.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vero_n

Is the pronunciation of "urbs" correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nekhane

Why not urbes what's the difference of urbs nd urbes


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kati306269

When we use IN and when not?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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Do you mean in Latin? The locative case (which takes no preposition) is very rarely used. It's only for the names of cities/towns, small islands, and a very small handful of common nouns like "domus" and "rus". Everything else needs a preposition plus the ablative case.

Please refer to the other comments on this page for more details.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ken232607

Why is this translation not right? Num Novi Eboraci est non in California?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrendaniusFruust

The "non" is an implicit part of "Num", it's a negating term. So "Num" is basically "surely not" but applied contextually, as in "Surely [thing] is not [X]"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2618

In addition to what BrendaniusFruust said about "num" essentially being "surely it's not the case that", the adverb comes before the verb, so it would need to be "non est" if "non" were appropriate to use here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mauricio69371

"urbs" can be omitted - why? (I didn't fail, but, I'm curious).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve83777

I tried "Eboracum Novum" and got marked wrong :) Surely that is correct Latin?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard-IX

Rae.F has already answered that question. Please see his comment above.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Armin__

Isn't "Num Eboracum urbs non est California?" also right? If not, why?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/machucaw

Capitalisation is important apparently. Cost me a heart


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IVLIVSCAES

Why is it not Novi Eboracum? Or is Novi Eboraci locative?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LikeAnAssistant

When do we is eboracum vs. Eboraci?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrendaniusFruust

Novum Eboracum = New York

Novi Eboraci = in New York


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Snazzie2

In Latin Num urbs Novum Eboracum in California est should be the same as Num urbs Eboracum Novum in California est since word order in Latin is flexible and often the adjective came after the noun yet the latter was marked as being incorrect.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jan497674

So Num urbs Novum Eboracum Californiae est. Is wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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"California" does not have a locative case. Only the names of cities/towns and small islands, along with "domus" (house), "rus" (countryside), and "humus" (ground).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ivan-duolingo

Why Novi Eboraci and Novum Eboracum? Wich is right?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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  • 2618

Locative vs nominative.

https://www.duolingo.com/skill/la/places/tips-and-notes

Here is a plain-English overview of what the cases are and how they work:
Latin cases, in English

Here are the noun and adjective declension charts:
declensions 1-3
declensions 4&5

Adjectives must agree in gender, number, and case with the nouns they modify, but they have their own declensions. Sometimes you get lucky and the adjective just happens to follow the same declension as the noun, but that is not a guarantee.

For good measure, here are the verb conjugation charts:
1st Conjugation
2nd Conjugation
3rd Conjugation
3rd i-stem Conjugation
4th Conjugation


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeterScham1

Saying "urbs Novum Eboracum" seems like an unusual construction in Latin. For those that have more Latin experience, would "Num urbs, nomine Novum Eboracum, in California est?" be a more idiomatic way of saying this?


[deactivated user]

    Where's the negating "non?"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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    • 2618

    That's covered by "num".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wowa269009

    Which declension has New York: second or third? I mean is it Novum Eboracum, Novi Eboraci or is it Novis Eboracis, Novis Eboracis (nominative/genitive)?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/claudia829713

    These sentences are too difficult for beginners.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AshwiniMah17

    Shouldnt num be right before california


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Richard-IX

    No, "num" starts the sentence. It can be translated as 'Surely not . . .?'


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanceWARIN

    Why does this sentence REQUIRE the word "urbs"? Anybody who doesnt know that NY is a city probably would also need to be told that Calif. Is a civitas. Num, urbs is needed here.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lfd

    ¿‘Num in California Novum Eboracum urbs est?’?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/radikian

    I'm asking not to complain, but out of genuine curiosity. Would it also be correct to say ".... Californiae est?" or is it only "...in California?" in this case? : )


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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    • 2618

    To quote MagistraKate, "The locative case is only used with the names of cities, towns, and small islands."

    If there is a locative form, they will use it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daleraka

    I hope that by comlpeting the whole Latin curse in DL, I')) be able to read some ancient Roman manuscripts. "Crimean Tatarus Americanus")))


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
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    • 2618

    Duolingo by itself will only get you so far. You'll need other sources as well, for vocabulary if nothing else.

    latintutorial is one good resource among many.

    Learn Latin in just 5 minutes a day. For free.