Pīsō Ille Poētulus: A New Latin Novella

**Update 11.14.16** Piso has been published! See this announcement post.

Over the last couple years, I’ve doubled-down on pedagogy, becoming very comfortable teaching Latin, and can now place more emphasis on improving my own proficiency. Whatever my current proficiency level is, however, I’ve written a poetry-themed historical fiction novella set in Rome for the Novice reader (including 22 original lines of dactylic hexameter), which, as many have noted, we are in dire need of as a profession.

As a speaker, my Latin is not great, but it’s certainly NOT WORSE than most teachers out there. This novella, then, is an educational tool to get those teachers AND their students to read more fluently (ease + speed). It also happens to be a confidence-boosting read as an intro to Latin poetry if used in upper-levels. Pīsō Ille Poētulus now contains just 108 words (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established within the text, so this is quite low). I strongly feel that reading material with a low word count and frequently recycled vocabulary is a great asset to the Novice reader. Because of this parameter, decisions were made, such as esne hīc? in place of adesne? Here, I didn’t use an additional word, adesse (even if it’s a compound of other words that occur frequently), since the same, or similar meaning could be expressed with other words that already appear in the novella. Because I fully admit that my focus has been on pedagogy, I recognize that some people might have excellent suggestions to make Pīsō Ille Poētulus an even better resource for the Novice reader and our students reading Latin poetry.

So, I’m releasing the first five chapters of Pīsō Ille Poētulus (though without illustrations or all poetry audio files) for you to pilot in your classes, or at least read over Labor Day weekend. Why? This is for us—as Latin teachers—especially those who’d like to share Latin poetry with their students before the majority of them bail after year 2 or 3, and an opportunity for those with high levels of Latin proficiency to contribute to the profession.

Interested? I’m asking that you take a look at the first half of the novella, maybe run off a class copy (or project it and read through with upper-level students), and then get back to me with ways to improve it—particularly concerning the buzz about “Latinity” and “Classically Attested” and attention to Latin idiom. Keep in mind, however, the need for a Novice-level novella with a very low word count. If both can exist, hooray! If not, I’m sticking with a low word count as the priority, and you can go ahead and write a perfectly idiomatic Latin novella for Intermediate+.

Given that parameter of keeping the word count low, I’ll gladly accept suggestions for direct substitutions, especially ones that can be used in many places, or ones that don’t increase the word count by more than a word or two. Some suggestions I’ve already received have been fantastic, yet would have pushed Pīsō Ille Poētulus beyond what you’d expect from novellas with higher word counts, such as Cloeliaor Itinera Petrī. After October 1st, I’ll begin editing Pīsō Ille Poētulus for November publication. Remember, this novella is for us, so speak now or…

Click here to access Pīsō Ille Poētulus for piloting. **Update 11.14.16** Piso has been published!

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iFLT 2016: Immediate Instructional Changes, and Other Thoughts

I just went to my first iFLT conference. I got to chat (live) with Bill VanPatten and Stephen Krashen, saw master teachers teaching with CI, and went to some awesome presentations. I don’t take detailed notes during presentations, but as you can see there’s plenty to take away from a few ideas I emailed to myself over the week. This post includes what I intend to think about and/or change for 2016-17, and would recommend others considering as well. Some of the ideas were ones I’ve seen before but just haven’t gotten around to implementing them, while others were completely new. They’re organized by who inspired me:

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Rhythmic Fluency

The first two Rhythmic Fluency Podcasts were featured on Dickinson’s Latin Poetry Podcast.  Here is the 3rd, as well as downloadable audio files and supporting blog posts.  A link to my Lingua Latīna Poetry Card Game is at the bottom.  Those who attended the 2015 CANE Annual Meeting, or ACL Institute workshopd will find all of these resources helpful:

Podcast Episode 1:
Dactylic Hexameter
Natural Accent

Podcast Episode 2:
Hendecasyllables
Simplified Scansion  &  Demonstration Video

Podcast Episode 3:
Choliambic/Scazon/Limping Iambics
Simplified Pronunciation

Also:
Lingua Latīna Poetry Card Game
Rhythmic Fluency Presentation (Power Point)

Why Accentuation (and ultimately, syllable quantity) Matters…

I recently took part in a great dialogue concerning scansion and pronunciation on LatinTeach.  Aside from my beliefs of simplified versions of such  practices, the following quote supports how I feel about natural accent in opposition to any practice that accents the ictus, as perpetuated by study of metrical feet.  Sure, it’s from 1938 (Problems of the Latin Hexameter), but here’s what one F. Shipley has to say about Virgil’s verse:

“It was clear that he meant his lines to be read with their natural word-accents; that his caesurae were not artificial breaks at mere word-ends within the foot, but natural pauses; that ictus was more of an abstraction than a reality, and that if he recognized it at all as anything more than a purely theoretical marking of time intervals, it was entirely subordinated to the normal accent of words and phrases; and that if we read his verse with the natural accents upon the words, and with the pauses which sense or rhetorical and poetical emphasis demand, we need not concern ourselves with the so-called ictus or with the caesura as a mechanical device…”

Here is an example of the difference between the two…

ictus Ex.:
ARma viRUMque caNO troIAE qui PRImus ab Oris

natural accent Ex.:
ARma viRUMque CAno TROiae qui PRImus ab Oris

The latter has so much more life in it that I am amazed people still follow (or consider using) the former practice at all.