Latin/Spoken Latin

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Spoken Latin
Chapter 1: 1234
Chapter 2: 1234
Chapter 3: 1234
Revision: 1234
Assessment: 12

Audio Files

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Hi, if you want to learn spoken Latin some of the wide range of lessons on the Latinum podcast are aimed at this: have a look at

Code Switching Trick

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Here is a trick you can use to learn both basic grammar and to get into the hang of speaking in Latin. One of the biggest problems for students who learn Latin is the fact that it is not a word order language. This fact has already been covered in other lessons but the trick presented here is designed to get you past word order thinking and to start producing Latin in your head so it can come out of your mouth or off of your pen. Please note that if you don't have enough vocabulary to produce a real sentence in Latin with out looking up every word you can still use this trick to get yourself used to speaking in this way but using English words that you will slowly replace as your Latin vocabulary grows.

I'd not use this method for more than a day or so. But playing around with it will help a little. Nothing will really work, except for working and studying Latin itself, in Latin.

Of course if you have studied the proper endings for a word then you should use it but if not just keep the English pronouns He, His, Him in you mind. Using these in English it is possible to violate English strict word order and still create an intelligible sentence.

He to her its them gives.

Of course this is not good English and we don't know what the pronouns are referring to but we can still understand and that is the whole point. Using pronouns in English we can violate word order and even leave it behind. The interesting thing about Latin is that it isn't just the Pronouns but every word with few exceptions that can do this.

This is what you do. Any word, from any language can be Latinized and used in a pseudo language that will teach you to speak Latin if you stick with it.

Subject of a sentence: do nothing to the word but keep in mind that you can actually drop it from the sentence if everyone already knows what you are talking about.

Possessive: add an `IS` to the end of the word, so instead of car's, you will have caris.

Indirect object: add `i` to the end. This will sound funny but will work. If a word end in an ee kind of sound just pronounce it twice.

Direct object: add `EM` to the end of a word. thus you get things like flowerem, spacem, computerem, carem, personem and so on.

If you need to use a preposition just use the prepositions you have learned and don't change the word (just use the subject form as the preposition tell you the grammar of the word)

Thus you could say a sentence like;

boy girli manis flowerem gives

The above sentence is not English, nor Latin but it is what is called Code Switching and anyone who is on the way to fluency in a second language does it automatically. That is why is Japan people go around saying things like

Car WA Boy OH Hit imasu.

We don't understand this sentence but it again is what may happen when two languages mix in the brain. Code Switcing is an important step to really becoming efficient in a new language. It allows you to move past only translation and actually make words come out of your mouth.

Note; when you practice this trick don't worry about the plurals till you really study them.

Anyone who has studied Latin even a little probably knows the beginnings of the conjugation for

amo, amas, amat

What you should take note of is the fact that where the second person in Latin is governed by an S at the end and the third by a T it is reversed in English.

I love, thou lovest, he loves

So this is what you do to start adding Verbs to your new Latin Code Switching hack; flip what you would normally say for HE from S to T at the end and start using S for the You form.

I love, you loves, he lovet

Yes, It looks strange but it is to help you learn to code switch. Again, don't use plurals till you really learn them and have already gotten used to using the singulars here. When you learn the correct Latin Vocabulary then replace the English words for the correct Latin words with correct Latin endings for that particular word.

As a final step before really forcing yourself into creating all Latin sentences, start using either an `M` or an `I` after verbs that are in the first person

I lovem, I lovei

This will be important when you learn the perfect tense. Then start dropping the I, we, you, them pronouns all together. You will find that you don't need them since the verb tells you who is doing the action of the verb. Still use He and she as the difference from Male and Female is more important in Latin then in English.

Your resulting sentences should be something like this when spoken

boy girli manis flowerem givet.

Don't write in this code. This should be used only for spoken exercises. Get a friend and both of you learn this code and just speak back and forth. Keep it simple. Don't try anything too complicated till you actually learn it. Try to make it sound nice as well, Latin was a fluid, beautiful language that gave use the romance of French and Italian so giving yourself a little accent can't hurt.

Another tip is to put the verb at the end of the sentence. The reason is that this creates a spoken period. Because we don't have word order to tell us when the sentence ends anymore, by putting the verb, which every sentence must have, at the end you are also telling the other person that the sentence is coming to an end. To make a question you can still put the verb at the end and just make it sound like a question or use a prober Latin question creator when you learn it.

Here is an example of a conversation in this code

computerem uses?
yes. use wants?
dog momis computerem broket.
really, terrible ist.
mom around house dogem chaset
funny soundt
say, girlis from computer class numberem gets?
no, she tall guyem liket
dark hairem she liket?
Maybe, not knowi
heris numberem get tryi

Yes, silly conversation, but this is just to give you an example of how to start breaking word order grammar and get into the mindset of the inflexive Latin grammar. Once you learn the proper endings start applying them to your English words. When you learn the proper vocabulary then switch to using the Latin words. When you learn a new Verb ending for past tense, infinitive and what not then start practicing with this new ending till you got it down, and not just with Latin words but with English Code Switching. You will be able to speak intelligible, near fluent Latin in less than five months.

Once you actually do get some real Latin vocabulary under your belt you should start paying attention to the grave marks. Macrons can help you to tell the difference in words in their written form but really doesn't help with speaking. Find a book or article in the net that shows the little accent markes that are sometimes called graves and sometimes called Breves. They look like just a little slash over a vowel. é é à and the like. These tell you what part of the word to sort of choke up on. Try saying the word Spaghetti. You automatically want to choke up or stress the E sound in the middle. You actually say this `spaghétti`. Not all words have a stressed sound in them but many do and it can give you a great way to really sound Latin. All in all they are really helpful.

Many speakers of Latin will change a C to a CH if it is followed by an E or I vowel sound. You don't have to do this and many people that teach Classical Latin say it is wrong but if you are speaking Latin today it really is by definition Not Classical Latin. Doing this will get you saying the word in a very European kind of pronunciation that really seems very natural and makes some words easier to say. Again, you don't have to do it and really shouldn't if it makes your teacher angry. Similar to changing the C to CH is the use of changing a G sound to a J sound if again followed by an E or an I sound.

Thus Ge-nu becomes `jen-u as in the modern genuflect.
Civitas- Kee vee tas becomes Chee vee tas which eventually came to be See vee tas- so that we can say civics and citizen.

The last point of concern is to choose to use the letter V as a v,v,v,v,v,v,v sound or a W,W,W,W,W,W sound. Once you pick it is best to stay consistent and not change from one word to another. If you don't like the way it is going with one and want to change to the other then change all words to the new way of saying them.

Sentence patterns

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Once you have played around with the language a bit you will want to start putting things in order the way they should be in Latin. Now, it is true that Latin does not have a specifically set word order, but there is a usual order that sentences tend to go in. This does not mean that they HAVE TO go in this order, it just is the common way. The word order, it should be remembered, has zero relation to the grammatical meaning of a word. Regardless of word order the sentence will mean the exact same thing. However the normal word order goes something like this.

Nominative Dative Accusative Ablatives/Adverbs Verbs.

Put into modern English language grammatical terms, this translates into something like this.

Subject Indirect Object Direct Object Compliments verbs.

Please note, the verb is usually last. It does not have to be, but just usually is. The subject (nominative) is usually first but does not have to be and an interesting feature of Latin is that the Subject can be dropped anytime it is understood. Many sentences in Latin actually wind up being Direct Object Verb.

The reason most teacher teach the declention list in a certain order N-G-D-Ac-Ab is because of this normal Latin word order even if they do not realize it.

Most Latin sentences will not contain every case. Latin has a number of sentence patterns and these patterns determine what cases are needed and what those cases mean.

The most basic sentence pattern in Latin is Nominative Esse. For this sentence pattern you basically put your noun in the nominative case and put the correct form of the "be" verb Esse after it.


Homo sum. Mulier es. Umbella est. Pueri sumus. Puellae estis. Furnaces sunt.

Make sure you match singulars with singular verbs and plurals with plural verbs.

The next sentence pattern in complexity is Nominative Nominative Esse. This basically says that you are equating the first thing with the second thing. This pattern is also used to place the qualities of an adjective on a noun. All that really matters is that they are both in the nominative. Make sure they match in gender.

Pater homo est. Amicae mulieres sunt. Magister bonevolus est. Magistra irata est. Nauta bonus est. Manus dextra est.

These last two sentence patterns were pretty easy and straight forward, you just have to remember not to put the "be" verb in the middle but even if you do it is still correct Latin. It just sounds better to put the verb at the end. The next sentence pattern isn't so hard but since we don't really have it in English it can throw some.

Nominative Dative Esse. This is where you state that a thing is "for" a person. "The book is for him" and the like. English doesn't really have a Dative case anymore so the idea is a bit out there but datives come up all the time in Latin so it is time to start getting used them.

Liber puero est. Mulier homini est. Homo mulieri est. (Nominative dropped) Mihi est. Tibi est.

At this point in time it is appropriate to mention the Genitive case. You will notice even though most of your books state that the Genitive case is the possessor case similar to English "His" "Her" "Its" "Their", it was not used for that purpose above. In Latin the Genitive case is a quasi-adjective that states an internal quality of the noun. Take a look at the difference.

Puer mulieri est. Puer irae est.

I can say "the boy is for the woman / He is the woman's son" but I can't say "the boy is for anger." That makes no sense. But I can say "He is a boy of anger." This gives you the impression that the boy is just angry all the time. Datives used with the Esse verb tend to be people, not objects. Genitives used with the esse verb tend to be objects but can often be people. Here is the difference.

Filius homini est.

The very point of this sentence is to tell you that the Son is for the Man.

Filius hominis nauta est.

This sentence uses a Genitive because the reason that the sentence exists is not to tell us that the Son is for the Man but that the Son is a Sailor. The fact that he is the Man's Son is just an extra idea that we threw on but could easily take off and still have the meaning of the sentence preserved. Filius nauta est. Filius himinis nauta est.

Basically, for grammar, we will treat the genitive like an indeclinable adjective. It can go anyplace an adjective can go.

The next sentence pattern we will look at is Nominative Adverb est. You basically state a nominative and give extra information about it using an adverb, or a preposition plus case noun.

Petasus illic est. Petasus in mensa est.

With Intransitive and Transitive verbs we can use adverbs, prepositional phrases and Ablatives by themselves for this.

Bene video. In via sto. Placido quiesco.

This means that you already know another sentence pattern. Nominative Adverb Intransative Verb.

Once we jump into the world of transitive verbs you will have a bit more in the sentence to keep track of. A transitive verb allows an Actor (subject nominative) to act (transitive verb) on an object (Accusative). The sentence pattern goes like this: Nominative Accusative Transative Verb.

In English we use word order to separate these two because unless we use a pronoun like him, the subject and object of the sentence will look the same. Not in Latin, or at least not often in Latin. In Latin, Subjects sound and thus look different than Objects. Keep in mind that word order could be any order but, so that you can see and get used to what you are seeing, I will stick to Nominative Accusative Verb. In a real Latin sentence, multiple adjective/genitives, adverbs/ablatives and or datives may be in a sentence to extend and enhance the meaning.

Puella puerum videt. See, even with Puer and Puella being next to each other and them being similar in pronunciation, you can still easily determine who is the subject and who is the object.
Pueri puellas cum intentissime observant. No mystery here as to what is going on I hope.
Next we will look at giving verbs. Their sentence pattern goes like this: Nominative Dative Accusative Verb. Nominative gives Accsative to Dative. If you can understand that then this sentence pattern is easy.
Puella puero rosam dat. Puer puellae cephalalgiam dat. Mulier hominibus litteras misit.

You will notice I hope that I used the verb Dat twice above. The Dative does indeed take its name from its frequent use with this verb. Also I used the verb Misit. Any verb that means "give" "send" "grant" and the like can logically use this construction.

Next we look at Making verbs. This is where you say that you turned one thing into another thing. This can be a noun into another noun or a noun into an adjective. Nominative Accusative Accusative Verb.

Coquus similaginem crustulum fecit. Coquus crustulum dulce fecit.

The last of the most basic sentence patterns that you will need to remember and use in everyday speech is Nominative Ab Ablative Passive Verb. In this sentence the Nominative Case is not the actor of the verb but instead receives the action that the verb gives, just like a passive verb in English. Logically, there can be no Accusative in this kind of sentence. The person that is the actor does not have to be stated but if he or she is it will be using the Ablative case after the preposition Ab.

Ab familia mea laudar. Circenses ab omnibus videntur.

Those sentence patterns listed above are the most basic and most frequent sentence patterns that you will encounter and have to use is you become a Latin speaker (and you should be trying to become a Latin speaker). These sentence patterns are your base and onto them you will eventually add additional sub patterns that you will use. The important thing is to master these simple patterns first and then move on to more complex structures. Once you know the pattern, it becomes just a matter of vocabulary replacement. Move one word out and put in the desired next word. You should know how to do this through repetition so much that you do not have to think about it to parse or translate. The goal is to understand in Latin and not have to need to translate into English to get it.