LATIN FOR PEOPLE/LATINA PRO POPULO by Alexander & Nicholas Humez


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Infandum, you might think, renovare dolorerm--or, in plain English, who's going to pay $7.95 to be transported back to the excruciating ambience of smothered yawns and chalk dust and porto, portare, portavi? At ecce casus felicissimus!--here, believe it or not, is a cheeky, practical, exuberant primer of Latin for ordinary barbarians, starting with sensible priorities like how to order a beer (holler ""Cerevisia!"" at the tabernarius behind the bar). It incorporates the irreverent student's dream of reading and translation exercises: Latin versions of instructive fabulae like the original ""Don't make waves"" story, improving apothegms (""Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather for whom the bell tolls""), and portentous renderings of enigmatic Russian proverbs (""If an apple orchard should grow in your mouth, you would no longer have a mouth but an orchard""). This lively introduction to a not-so-dead language is also built on a much sounder linguistic and philological foundation than most beginning texts. It introduces the basic concepts of syntax in terms of intelligible functions instead of arbitrary categories, analyzes irregularities with reference to historical stages of the Indo-European languages rather than the will of the gods, and conveys the logic behind important constructions in a broadly illuminating manner. Our only reservation is that Latin emerges from this high-spirited abecedarium as a fascinating toy rather than a beautiful language. Otherwise, liber brevis suavisque--tamen ad rem.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1976
Publisher: Little, Brown