Posted by Dennis » Add Comment »
Not this kind of Latin spell(ing).
One of the oddest hurdles to overcome as a Latin teacher involves pronunciation. Even if yours is impeccable — and I like to think of myself as a bit of an expert on the subject — students always find new ways to mangle new (and sometimes familiar) vocabulary. Good modeling of individual words and even of stories read expressively only goes so far to mitigate the problem.
It occurred to me that one way to help reinforce an understanding of some of the basic concepts is to be careful about how you talk about words, and I’m thinking specifically about spelling.
One of the things students need to internalize to really understand how the sounds of the language work (and thus how to pronounce Latin as well as they can) is syllabification. When does a consonant begin and when does it end a syllable? Which consonant can form groups? These kinds of questions aid not only pronunciation but a proper appreciation of meter and sound effects in poetry (and even in good prose).
So what can you do to promote this through spelling?
I suggest that whenever an opportunity presents itself — whether it be time dedicated to vocabulary, or an off-the-cuff discussion of a particular literary point — you take care to spell the Latin not only letter-by-letter (litterātim), using proper pronunciation of the letters, but also syllable-by-syllable (syllabātim), pausing between each.
To take a word from today’s Latin I lesson, you would spell intereā thus:
And to take another, raedārius:
er, ā, ē,
To help your students (and possibly you, if you’re unfamiliar with or unpracticed in Restored Classical Pronunciation), I could work on another post, possibly with a video of the Latin alphabet song that I wrote for my students. At the very least I’ll post an update or a follow-up post with a version of the handout I use with my students to guide them as they sing. In the meantime the pronunciation guide at the Wheelock’s Latin site can help.
If you try it please let me know how it works for you.