Olianna is different from the rest of her family, and finds herself excluded as a result. Have you ever felt that way? One day, a magical object appears that just might change everything for good. However, will it really be for the better? Can you spot any morals in this tale told from different perspectives?
12 cognates + 12 other words!
1100 total length
“Familiar” is the name of the game. This debut non-Roman novella gets into the kind of family dynamics I discuss with students in first year Latin with the theme of “belongingness” relatable to all. The familiarity of the topic and high cognate count puts this on par with Mārcus magulus as the first two books that can be read by the earliest of beginners!
When it comes to those beginners, exposure to the language is crucial, yet they key is to not overwhelm the learner with too many different word meanings while reading. This is known as “sheltering vocabulary,” or limiting words, whenever possible. At the same time, the learner also needs exposure to different word forms for languages with many inflections, such as Latin. Exposure to different forms builds a mental representation of the language that helps the learner process meaning. Therefore, the most effective texts vary word forms within a small vocabulary. Varying word forms is known as “unsheltering grammar,” that is, not limiting word forms in an effort to teach that grammatical form—dearest no—but instead using any grammatical forms necessary, and at times even deliberately using as many forms as possible so the learner acquires them implicitly without effort. Olianna et obiectum magicum is another one of my best examples of exposing students to different grammatical forms of Latin within a single narrative, especially given its small scope. Despite the low word count, the novella contains over 120 different grammatical forms! These include:
- ablative of comparison
- ablative of means
- noun/adjective agreement (across 1st/2nd and 3rd declensions)
- comparative, superlative, and diminutive adjectives
- imperfect, perfect, and future active
- present and future passive
- passive infinitive
You might not believe that a novella containing the above grammatical forms and functions could be one of the first texts read by Latin students, but trust me, it can. When meaning is clear and individual word meanings are reduced, magical things happen, and Olianna is a good example of that. So, with vocabulary sheltered, grammatical exposure early on provides a solid base language learners use to continue building mental representation of Latin throughout the year.
Oh, and like Mārcus, the new Olianna also has a few new features. There are two lists after chapters two and four that include summaries of what’s been learned so far. These short statements can be used to check understanding while building a sense of Olianna’s family dynamics. There’s also a choose-your-own-style epilogue where readers decide what best represents Olianna’s voice. Enjoy!