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Running out of enthusiasm to learn Latin.

Hello fellow Duolingoers,

Recently, I've been getting into learning Latin. I've bought the Teach Yourself book and started a Memrise course. A few chapters in, and I'm loosing enthusiasm to learn Latin. I originally started to learn Latin because of curiosity, and despite I still have a bit of curiosity, I feel that I'm wasting my time and could be learning a more useful language.

Any advice?

September 20, 2019



Well, curiosity alone won't get you through the entire process of learning a language. Curiosity about a language is easily satiated by just looking into it a little bit for fun. It won't help you so much when things get difficult, and you need to start spending a lot of time drilling different inflection patters and studying the more complex aspects of the grammar.

I think if you want to get a solid motivation for learning Latin, you could read up on Latin literature - ancient, ecclesiastical, modern - and see if this is something you find interesting enough to want to study in the original language.

I learned Latin in order to be able to read my favourite authors such as Virgil and Ovid in the original language, and I feel like every minute spend drilling has been paid back in full. You can't really translate that stuff. Just put up a shadow theatre of it in other languages. But that's me. Ancient literature is not everyone's cup of Falernian.


How can I interest myself in classical literature? It sounds fun but I don't see that I'd be able to enjoy it until I'm at least a B2 speaker.


There's many ways you can dip into Classics using beginner texts. For example, here is a simple Aeniad; Magister Craft also has a book for the Oddysea and another Youtube series. There are quite a few novellas that also feature simplified classical stories.


Thank you! Guess I won't give up Latin after all...


How can you interest yourself in classical literature? Ask yourself, what interests you? Latin writing has a breadth of topics like nothing you've ever seen. Do you like werewolves? Military conquests? Philosophy? Poetry? History? Mythology? Cooking? Do you delve into wikipedia articles just reading whatever you find? Because every one of those things can be found in Latin literature, sure starting off is difficult, but there are two thousand years of Latin to be read. And a LOT of it sits untranslated, waiting for you to discover it.


"waiting for you to discover it"


[deactivated user]

    just use "lingua latina per se illustrata" by hans orberg. it's such a well composed text. try to read through the chapters and understand them. maybe use a dictionary. you don't need to forcefully memorize inflection/declination tables or vocabulary. then on youtube there is "scorpiomartianus" who read the whole book with a very nice pronunciation you can learn from. and then at some point you can translate the chapters into another language, that you understand, and write it down so you can translate it back into latin.


    I agree with the recommendation of "lingua latina per se illustrata." It will get you reading meaningful Latin and an interesting story from the very beginning.

    "Teach Yourself Latin" is carefully thought out, but the one-word-at-a-time and isolated-practice-sentences would drive me bananas in a heartbeat. I would lose enthusiasm too, with that book.


    Leave it alone for a while. You'll be back :-)


    Ask around or search Google to find the nearest Catholic Church that does a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM or Tridentine Mass)... there is a Catholic Church in almost every big town and city that does a Latin Mass once a week or once a month. You'll hear Latin spoken in the service; you'll be able to read the Latin Mass notes and you'll meet other people who either speak Latin well or who are actively studying it. These churches also often run Latin-language study groups.


    I will throw in this: of those that really agree with Catholicism, a majority actually gone right ahead to go into Traditional Latin Mass.

    The words and prayers are rich. A good suggestion is to grab a Vulgate to Douay-Rheims (catholic bible obviously), which is translated from Vulgate itself. It also help illustrate why a Catholic may think things in a certain way, specifically due to the militaristic and gendered language that is employed in latin.

    Video on catholic saints: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNdK7p9W4IjZDmju_GkDnoA/videos

    Vulgate + Douay Side-by-side: http://www.catholicbible.online


    Nevertheless, converting to Catholicism in order to make Latin a more interesting learning experience may seem a little extreme to some people.


    There's no immediate requirement or pressure to convert (the Catholic Church is not strongly evangelical). Anybody is welcome to attend a Catholic Church and Latin Mass as long as they are respectful and not there to criticize or cause a disturbance.


    The course is way, way too short for me. And it has also just been released, I'd have to put up with "I wake Brutus in the morning." being incorrect and the correct solution being "I wake up Brutus in the morning."


    It is too short, that's true. But it still will teach you more than you know now and provide a start for you so that you can go on from there. Go ahead and try the course, and when you've finished, post again for further suggestions, if there hasn't been a new "tree" put online by then.

    You are right: the course is in Beta. But already dozens (hundreds?) of sentences have been corrected thanks to user input, and it is much better than when it was introduced.

    Or try using your French or German to study Latin online. There are many web pages to choose from.


    The course is short, yes, but working through it will give you a very solid base from which to continue your studies.

    True, it's in Beta, but I don't recall being forced to give an unnatural translation anywhere. Occasionally alternate natural translations are still not accepted -- although the team is filling those in very quickly, and if you find something not accepted, you can help the team and all learners by reporting. But the main translation always sounds natural.

    [Edited to add: I see I just cross-posted with slugger :-) ]

    [Edited to add add: slogger, slogger, slogger! Slugger is a baseball AA team sports mascot, slogger is a very helpful Latin poster!]


    People here already said it all, so I'll just leave this picture:


    @karasu4 is right – most people need a solid, practical use for any language in order to invest the time to learn it. There are several, but they are not the 'usual' ones.

    Other than reading Classical literature, my own reason is that a vast amount of European culture, history and politics was conducted through Latin until about 1800-1850. Even Karl Marx had to write in Latin for his exams. As I've a strong interest in English history, medieval and seventeenth century, I can only read many of the important things that were written if I can read Latin. They aren't all translated, far from it.

    The same applies to other countries. Latin was a big part of the cultural life of the Netherlands – because they tended to write and educate in Latin, because Dutch did not have the same international reach. Other countries like Croatia and Hungary had Latin as official languages until the middle 1800s.

    Other people are interested in Christian spiritual writings, early Christian texts and theology; even for the non-religious this can be fascinating – songs like Dies Irae, YT, or the many medieval Latin poems collecting by monks the Carmina Burana, ranging from love poems to bawdy drinking songs (and of course religious works like O Fortuna, YT). And of course both of these and many, many more are set to classical music that you will recognise.

    So in summary: if you want to access the mainstream of European culture up to around 1850, then Latin is incredibly useful, if not, then maybe not.

    Another thought: if you're feeling like all you are doing is learning but not using Latin, then why not try reading some simple texts, or listening to some Latin to see what you've picked up? You might be surprised how much you've learnt.


    A language is as useful as you make it. My personal goal is to read Lucretius' "De re natura" in the original Latin.

    Stephen Greenblatt's book "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern" (which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award) is about how the rediscovery of this poem in the 15th century brought about the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Also, it seems you have to understand this poem if you want to understand what the Founders of the USA meant by "nature's god". A very important work, which is also supposed to be very beautiful, losing a lot in translation.


    'The swerve' is a great book!


    I agree with bicolingo.

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