Published in: 2006
Edition read: Paperback
Have you even found yourself irritated when a sine qua non or a mea culpa is thrown into the conversation by a particularly annoying person? Or do distant memories of afternoons spent struggling to learn obscure verbs fill you with dread? Never fear!
In this delightful guided tour of Latin, which features everything from a Monty Python grammar lesson to Angelina Jolie’s tattoo and all the best snippets of prose and poetry from two thousand years of literary history, Harry Mount wipes the dust off those boring primers and breathes life back into the greatest language of them all.
Ok so on New Years day this year, I decided I wanted to start learning Latin, because apparently the 6 languages I am currently learning wasn’t enough, I also needed to add a dead language to the batch. Thus came this book and a “Latin learning for Idiot’s” book that I spent the first two weeks of 2018 pouring over. My conclusion: Latin is haaaarrrddd. It’s logical, but there is so much memorising required and each word can have something like 9 different endings that you have to know to be able to understand Latin. The way the language is presented for learning, it’s really overwhelming.
This book was meant to be a good intro into the language, but it was pretty much ‘this is Latin’ and chucked a bunch of phrases at you, then glossed over anything of much use. Although the author says that you don’t have to have any Latin under your belt to read this book, he then carries on as if you do have the 8 years of learning he had so then you struggle with phrases that he sometimes explains and sometimes doesn’t, and then there’s word lists that you start off reading and trying to comprehend, but end up glossing over because knowing each ending of Amo is not helping you when you aren’t then using it in any part of the book. These word lists are there literally for decoration. So helpful.
I wanted to like this book, honestly I did. I wanted to get some insight into the language itself, or tips from someone who studied the language and where a newbie like me could and should start. I wanted a better understanding of declensions because I still don’t get them. I wanted someone who studied the language to actually say “hey, I understand it’s hard. Here is a phrase, it’s literal translation, and here’s a breakdown of the sentence so you, newbie, can see the sentence structure and have a chance at understanding this language”. I got none of that, just an author who was thoroughly unlikeable.
Amo, Amas, Amat rating: 4/10
Would I re-read it? Noooopppee
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who has studied Latin and actually has a grasp on the language, you may get a kick out of this. If you are a newbie to the language, steer clear or risk a headache and the urge to punch this author repeatedly.