Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Amo, amas, amat, whack!

My memories of Latin consist of translating sentences along the lines of "The sailors are chasing the girls into the woods whilst the freed slave rejoices!"

When we were not doing this, we were being beaten; as Latin teachers were traditionally very strict.

Anyway, to the point. Latin and Greek are disappearing from schools faster than those sailors above. Last year there were only 864 Classics students starting at University. (As opposed to about 3.5 million doing Media Studies)

Is this another example of the ongoing decline in our Country or should we be glad to see the back of such outdated, archaic stuff?

Talking of Classics- have a look at Rate My Turban


steveg said...

Oh God, I remember all too well my time at scholl and 4 years of Latin.

Frankly I have found that it's only use in later life has been the occasion clue in the Times crossword!

A couple of spoof declinations from my youth are still remembered however

Curso, Cursere, Damni and Blastum

Pigo, Pigere, Swiney, Gruntum

Not bad for something jokingly taught 38 years ago!

Excellent blog Mr Chalk - You are now one of my regular "reads"


steveg said...

Dearie me,

My spelling has gone downhill or at least my typing has (Just washed my hands and can't do a thing with them!)

That should read..

1) School not scholl

2) Occasional not Occasion

Iknow, I know - "Write out 50 times..... etc



Anonymous said...

I was of the generation who didn't get taught grammar. I did, however, study Latin and German at school. So it has helped me to understand cases and whatnot, and helped me to learn other languages, and it was a fun intellectual challenge.

But mainly, it got me out of PE, as it was already being squeezed in the timetable (1988-1995) and so we had to choose between freezing our proverbials off on the hockey pitch, or staying in a warm fuggy portakabin with a red faced man smelling of whiskey.

lilyofthefield said...

As I attended a Catholic convent and later a Catholic High School, I learnt Latin more or less as a living language - i.e. conversational with little regard for the finer points of Grammar; and a largely ecclesiastical vocabulary. Which is why I can impress the young 'uns with rapid translations from Latin inscriptions and the like, but can't write a sentence in it that isn't the equivalent of Brian's 'Romanes Eunt Domus'.

alanorei said...

Winston Churchill, arguably Britain's greatest Briton, never mastered either Latin or Greek.

In My Early Life he recounted the experience of his first (and last) Latin exam when his sole written entry into his answer book was the numeral 1, modifed a little later, when "I put a bracket around it."

He nevertheless retained a high regard for the classical languages and wrote in the same work that he would encourage the brighter pupils "to learn Latin as an honour and Greek as a treat," adding with reference to all school pupils, "But I would only ever flog them for not knowing English."

I think Winston saw these subjects in correct perspective, whatever one may think of his perceptions on school discipline.

Britain owes more than she realises to the ancient languages, for what they have contributed to her own. It would be advantageous, therefore, if the study of them was retained and encouraged, for pupils so inclined, even if only in a minority.

The King James Bible translators were all classical scholars, which in part enabled them to produce the greatest and most enduring work of English prose in existence, which will never be surpassed.

See In Awe of Thy Word, a 900+ page study by American researcher, Dr Mrs Gail Riplinger.

If the work that the King's men compiled through their unparalleled command of both contemporary and ancient languages, which included Gothic, Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac as well as Latin and Greek, was a compulsory text book in education today, it would do much for schools such as both St John's and St Jude's, I suspect.

alanorei said...

P.S. In deference to the demands of English spelling, modifed in my last post should of course, read modified.

Mary said...

Average Kevin probably won't get a great deal from being taught Latin. The time may be better spent getting him to master English, Maths, that sort of thing.

For the brighter, more academically inclined students however - those getting As and Bs in most of their classes - Latin can, as pointed out by alanorei (and W Churchill), add an extra dimension to subjects they are already studying.

But that's discrimination. Or something.

oldandrew said...

I was in the last cohort to do Latin at a bog standard comprehensive. I can't say I remember much of it, but it certainly covered a lot of aspects of grammar that they couldn't be bothered to teach in English. The fact that it is vanishing is just an inevitable part of the dumbing down process that's seeing difficult subjects vanishing from the curriculum or being reduced to a shadow of their former selves.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to think that British history was being taught in schools,let alone anything else apart from the 3 R's of course.With two of the Big Brother housemates not knowing where Norfolk was(both Brits)it seems that Geography is a mystery to pupils today also.Are there 3.5 million jobs in the 'media'?

Anonymous said...

'Outdated, archaic stuff'? My opinion of you has just taken a dive, Frank. JUST the basis of Western civilisation, that's all. JUST the best way to ensure that one's English spelling has at least some chance of being right. JUST the lingua franca of science, medicine, law, you name it. How petty and short-sighted can you get? I thought you considered yourself a cut above the utilitarian educators whose insistence on Relevance has destroyed the intellectual prospects of anyone under 30 with an IQ in double figures. I am so glad I was educated in the 60s and 70s.

Corporal(retired) said...

if the Romans come back will those with Latin have an advantage? Will they get the best jobs?
personally, I'm hoping for a military coup.

Hill said...

Anonymous, i think Chalky was asking the question, not giving his opinion.

I reckon the main reason for keeping Latin is that it requires consistant logical thinking (word order, verb tenses, subject and object)

alanorei said...

Mary said (quite rightly)

"But that's discrimination. Or something."

It certainly is. Just like they have sets in Years 7-11, or did, when our lads were at school.

It has been said that "Discrimination is the key to sanity."

If that statement is true - and I think it is - it probably explains a lot of what is going on today, in or out of education, i.e. St John's versus St. Jude's, again.

Anonymous said...

Having come to Oxford from a bog standard comprehensive that wouldn't know Latin if it fell convulsing from a heart attack at its feet, its suprised me how many here seem to know it. Even those who likewise came from the state sector appear to have studied it at some point, and my healthy disregard for latin puts me in the rather distinct minority. Interesting to note that of the 800 odd clasicists at university, the vast majority of those will be at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham...