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Here’s a mnemonic device I wrote to help my students in Baby Latin to cope with one of the difficulties of the 3rd conjugation, namely the vowel shifts of the present tense:
- In conjugations 1 & 2
- (& also 4) the vowels are true.
- But conjugation 3’s unique:
- use I and U, since short E’s weak.
We use the infinitive, of course, to determine the conjugation of each verb, and in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th conjugations the vowel before the infinitive ending is used throughout the present tense. Verbs in -are show -a- (though it disappears before -o), and so on. But the 3rd conjugation often troubles students because the -e- of the infinitive is nowhere to be found.
It’s helpful to talk about the relative strength of the various vowels. The E of the 2nd and the I of the 4th remain even before the 1st person ending, for example. And these long vowels are short where Latin phonology requires it (before another vowel or before final -t or -nt).
But the 3rd conjugation is different precisely because the E is short. Rather than persist (be ‘true,’ as the rhyme says), it changes, and these changes are the same as those which students will see in the future tense.
The future tense marker of the 1st and 2nd conjugations is really -be-, with a short E, and this is why the endings go -bo, -bis, -bit / -bimus, bitis, -bunt. It’s no different from the present tense of the 3rd conjugation, where short E produces -o, -is, -it / -imus, -itis, -unt.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s just remember the mnemonic for the future tense endings of the various conjugations, which I give in a simple form than the usual:
- 1 & 2,
- -bo, -bi-, -bu-
- 4 & 3,
- -a- then -e-
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Our tees are already at a lower price than was offered by our previous vendor, but today only you can get free shipping by entering the promo code “FREESHIPPING”.
Have a look!
UPDATE: I’ve added two new designs based on a chalkboard drawing I did for my students on Halloween: LATINA: LINGVA MORTVORVM VIVENTIVM (“Latin: Language of the Living Dead”). The original drawing was a Roman zombie in a toga, but I thought that would look a little too cartoonish and cheesy for a t-shirt. A stylized Cato works well enough, and it’s not really about zombies anyway, but about the notion that Latin is a dead language insofar as it allows the dead to speak to us: the language is what keeps these dead men alive. The simpler (and more affordable) version features the slogan in my own design, based on the original paper cut letters of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living promo posters. The other (more costly but more awesome) shirt features the text before the bust of Cato in all his severitas The image is big, bold, and sure to attract attention.
It would make a great Latin club shirt. Let me know if you’re interested in having any of these designs customized.
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This is just a note to say that the CAMPVS has seemed ridiculously slow of late, and while the cute little Facebook and Twitter buttons attached to each post were fun for awhile, they seem to have at least contributed to the problem. They’ve been axed, and a few tweaks have been made as well, so load times should be severely diminished.
In other news, our son Ash turned 3 months today. We’ve been singing him the Latin alphabet song that I wrote some time back, and he seems to love it. While we were in Seattle I’d read to him from Xenophon’s Anabasis, and you’d think he understood and enjoyed the narrative.
So despite what I may have written in the past, this blog is now officially about how our baby is the cutest: