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Ossa Latinitatis Sola Bilingual Edition
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- Item Weight : 3.9 pounds
- Paperback : 800 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0813228328
- ISBN-13 : 978-0813228327
- Dimensions : 6.9 x 1.9 x 10.1 inches
- Publisher : The Catholic University of America Press; Bilingual edition (October 3, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #419,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This excitement lasted until I received the magnum opus.
I've encountered this before: an author takes it upon himself (usually a "him") to discard the conventions that have supposedly held back students for decades--centuries, even--and rename the verb forms, grammatical terms, etc., with which anyone who has studied a language, be it in school or as an autodidact, is familiar. Reginaldus fell victim to this temptation--and hard--I am very sorry to report.
So, instead of learning about the present, imperfect, future and other tenses, we are told to learn them as "Time 1," "Time 2," "Time 3" and so on. Now, I suppose that, if one has never studied Latin before, "Time 1" and "present tense" might somehow be equally easy to keep straight in one's mind. This was not the case for me. Aside from the irritation of this particular trick (which I've had the misfortune of encountering in a Greek textbook previously), it makes no sense, at least to me, in practice.
Father R. wants to avoid "unnecessary terminology" and achieve "direct contact with the essence and the meaning of things." Which is lovely. But, how does "Time 4b" more effectively convey what anyone who has ever studied any language, including Latin, know as the perfect tense? Or "Block I" more directly convey what everyone else knows as the first and second declensions?
Others have already noted the slapdash, seemingly random selection of readings, which seems to be the result of Father R. emptying his file cabinets onto the floor and picking up items at whim. Maybe "Time 2 subjunctive" (or T.2s, as it is even more cryptically abbreviated) will be as evocative as "imperfect subjunctive" to the novice Latinist, but the book's odd organization, utter absence of paradigms and word charts (which the author explicitly eschews) and other nonstandard and unhelpful quirks make this decidedly NOT the book with which to start one's Latin studies. As another reviewer noted, this may be a great refresher volume if one has already studied with Father R. and understands his system, but it is opaque, clumsy and confusing, not least due to his refusal to use standard grammatical terms. It's interesting to dip in and try a reading or read a short, relatively straightforward section, but I cannot imagine slogging through this volume and its multiple "Encounters" and "Experiences."
It's a shame, really, that what I'm sure is the rich and valuable experience teaching and translating that Father R. possesses could not have been turned into one of the great Latin textbooks. So, as the saying goes, caveat emptor. This doorstop of a textbook is not the vade mecum it could've been, but, instead, a sort of monument to a variety of folly.
1) While there are regular reminders of the author's disdain for grammatical charts and tables, every chapter is essentially one lengthy explanation of a particular concept with a few examples thrown in, with much encouragement to essentially sit down and learn the dictionary.
2) It reminds me a bit of Amo, Amas, Amat... and All That: How to Become a Latin Lover . Mount attempted to turn the Latin language and all the various forms and rules into a novel, and this is similar at times.
3) The selections from Latin literature are offered with no notes or commentary, which I find unusual in a book where every grammatical concept is explained in such great detail. You won't find any insight into these texts at all here, even a brief description of the author, work, or context of the selection. If one truly wanted to use these 'sheets' along with the explanations, you'd be well-served by photocopying and enlarging them.
4) The length and weight (831 pages!) will surely prevent all but the most dedicated students or teachers from using this book except as a reference tool.
I am quite certain that Latin would come alive if one were to sit down with Reginaldus and have a conversation about the language, the Romans, and the literature. If I may offer my humble advice, I would therefore much rather see videotaped sessions with Reginaldus offered for purchase to better experience his approach and his love of the language. This book, however, comes across as a rather stale way to interact with Latin.
Typically, I would criticize any beginning Latin book for not including macrons over the vowels to indicate the length (why not - it is not as if we are actually reading ancient scrolls, and how many of us have memorized the length of every uncertain vowel in the extensive Latin lexicography?) but in this case I don't, as the author explains so well the techniques for learning Latin, and one of those techniques is to become familiar - confidently - with how common words sound. In any event, Latin is easier than English with respect to figuring out how words sound from how they are spelled, so my advice is don't let the lack of macrons bother you too much.