Illustrated Latin Textbook Recommendations

There’s something about the format of a comic that is inherently helpful to new language students. The fact that we get a relevant visual to accompany text not only makes for a pleasing reading experience, but really helps you to understand the words via context clues. I know that I still enjoy picking up French comic books as it’s an easy way to get refreshed on the language.

I just wanted to recommend a few heavily-illustrated Latin resources that can perhaps help out any learners who are having difficulty grasping the nuances of the language. First of all is the ubiquitous Cambridge Latin Course, much known in Classicist circles and often parodied by students. Most of the stories are told with images – it’s actually a very image-heavy textbook – so this is a good and rather standard introduction to the language. The Oxford Latin Course also uses images in a comic style, but is perhaps less dense in terms of images as that of Cambridge.

One of my favourites is Minimus I and II, where you are introduced into the language by a rather charming mouse. It’s a simplistic text series and you would probably find this being used in grade school lessons, but if you are just getting started in the language (or perhaps only want some passing conversational skills) then this is a great choice.

Sort of within the realm of illustrated texts is Lingua Latinawhich holds a special place in my heart as the first Latin book I learned from. However, this uses a totally immersive approach, which I think has definite pros and cons. On the one hand, there’s a great trove of marginalia on each page, and the latin does progress at a rather agreeable rate of difficulty. On the other hand, you learn all your grammar lessons in Latin, too, and this personally led me to having no clue what the hell anyone was talking about when we used English grammar terms in a later program. So tread carefully.

And finally, though it is not a textbook and is only partially illustrated, I think everyone should have a go at Winnie Ille Pu. Of course, that’s Winnie The Pooh translated into Latin! The language is simple but it gets you reading the language in a familiar context. There’s also the Harry Potter books translated into Latin, though I have not read through them so can’t speak to the quality of the experience.

I hope this is helpful to some of you! If there are other textbooks or Latin comics in general that you think should be mentioned here, leave a comment or send me an email at rebecca@otreraonline.com. Thanks for reading!

Shakespeare’s (and Milton’s?) Accent

As I may have mentioned on twitter, one of the seminars I am currently in is all about John Milton, and we’ve been reading Paradise Lost as well as his prose works. More recently we’ve looked at some of his early poetry, L’allegro and Il Penseroso.

One of the ways that I often learn, particularly when dealing with poetry, is by reading the text aloud as I read it. I think I’m just an auditory learner in this regard, and often the poetry was more suited for the ear than the eye, if you know what I mean. I was having difficulties with Milton’s poems as the rhyming didn’t always work out to my own ear, so I gave some thought to accents.

The UK has a broad range of accents and certainly adopting a number of them would bend the words slightly to fit a rhyme scheme better. The lines that particularly troubled me are as follows:

L’Allegro 

137-138.
“Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce”

143-144.
“Untwisting all the chains that ty
The hidden soul of harmony.”

149-150.
“Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half regain’d Eurydice.”

Perhaps, depending on your own accent and reading of these words, you don’t have a problem with the rhyme scheme. But I do, so I recalled a video I saw of Ben Crystal describing the differences between Received Pronunciation and Original Pronunciation, in terms of Shakespeare. Give the video a listen, and see if you can imagine these rhyme scheme issues resolved based on the Original Pronunciation of these words.

What do you think? How would these words be pronounced in order to rhyme? A difficult conversation to have over text, to be sure, but something interesting to think about, for sure.

How To Stop Being a Perfectionist (Hint: I don’t know. Send help.)

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Well, maybe more than a bit. This was a hard thing to come to terms with, because I feel that I do absolutely nothing perfectly. You want proof? I’ve got a good fifty poems, a dozen short stories, and two full-length novels I’ve written that I can’t bear to do anything with, because they aren’t perfect yet. And it’s absolutely the worst, because without allowing myself to feel that any of these things are complete (i.e. perfect), I get 0 sense of satisfaction of a job well done. Consequently, it seems that I don’t feel very proud of myself.

I only realized how bad it was the other day. A professor and I were discussing anything I’ve written academically that I might be able to edit for publishing. “I haven’t done anything worthwhile yet,” I told him, trying really hard to think of something, anything. “Most of the things I’ve written have been trivial.”

“Nothing from your MA thesis?” he asked.

It was a long document, and pretty original research. Four chapters representing ten months of my life’s work. “No,” I said, “I think it was actually pretty disjointed. I don’t think it’s anything worth showing.”

He looked surprised, and suddenly I thought my academic cred was going to be under fire. I quickly backtracked. “I mean, I passed an oral defence for it, and my department thought it was good enough for me to graduate, you know? But I don’t think it’s all that good.”

And when those words came out of my mouth I realized, damn. I have a problem.

I think this really stems from my habit of being a very solitary worker bee. I don’t have a soundboard around for my writing too often, or the ones I do have are far away, and it’s hard to get a sense of their genuine impression through the internet. I work in a bubble and I think that either makes you a very poor writer, or a very unconfident one. Or both, heaven forbid.

I set a goal for this month to complete my short story, Selene and Endymion. Today I wrote the ending and it is actually complete! That was a good feeling, and the first step in overcoming my perfectionism. Here is my 4 step plan:

Step 1: Actually write the ending to the story. Check.

Step 2: Edit the story. Painful and unpleasant.

Step 3: Decide how you’re going to publish/share it. Ugh.

Step 4: Actually follow through with what you picked. ARGH!!!

For a long time I was convinced that my hatred of completing these four steps was due to laziness, or distraction, or maybe just being not cut out for writing. But damnit all, if this isn’t the excuse list of a perfectionist?

So I am making a commitment to myself to finish all four steps. When it’s done, I suspect I may actually feel a real sense of accomplishment. And maybe that feeling will be the high I need to convince me to do it again, and again… and soon all the completed-but-ignored projects in my inventory will see the light of day.

Endnote: If any of you have tips on being less of a perfectionist, please send them my way, ASAP!

Willful Neglect? & A poem

Oh, my poor blog. You’re the first one to suffer when life becomes too hectic. Well, ‘life’ is a bad way to describe it. Academic focus. Educational experimental existence. Maybe that’s more apt.

I’m applying for SSHRC funding for next year to try and do my PhD over in England. Is this a daring move of financial instability? Well, only if I can’t get all the funding I apply for. Consequently I am working very hard on applications and proposals. I’m currently logging ridiculous 13-14 hour days and have no time for social activity. Remarkably I have been using what little downtime I have for creative writing, and I’m shopping around a few pieces to various outlets. I’ll keep you posted as that develops.

As a consolation prize I have written a short poem for you all. Are you ready? Try and guess what it’s about, it’s very cryptic.

Staring at the baseboard at a bug crawling. The apartment
is underground and so is only a luxury colony
with myself as the queen. I stopped killing the bugs months
ago. The floor is spotlessly clean; the counters, clean. 
You wouldn’t expect that in the home of a thousand tenants.

Do you think…maybe…I’m excited about moving out of this apartment??? 😉

Another Suitcase in Another Hall

I didn’t think I’d be saying this again so soon, but I’m moving. Even though I just settled into this apartment at the beginning of September, I’ve suddenly had a better offer come up for a bigger space that I can’t turn down. I don’t have a lease here, so I told my landlady today that I’m out at the end of the month. I hate being a jerk, especially since she’s been nothing but lovely.

However, this place has spiders. I don’t just mean one or two. There are literally dozens and I kill them frequently. I’m usually of the type that captures bugs and sends them outside, but it’s just pointless to try and do that here. Today I found a giant cricket in my bathroom, and a handful of pill bugs too. It’s just too much nature for me. I can’t deal with this. Not to mention there are only two tiny windows, since it’s a basement, and I need light like a plant. So I am moving.

The new place is fantastic. It has a washer and dryer (oh my god, right?) and a proper space for me to put my office away from my creative stuff. There’s a big backyard so my dog can come and stay with me instead of going to the kennel when my folks are away, which is a pretty big deal. The only downside is its rather far from the main part of town, but honestly I can deal with it. There’s too many things going for it aside from that.

So I’ve been scouring pinterest making a board for minimalist bedrooms, since that’s what I’ve been dreaming of all day, and planning trips to the local coop to see what furniture they have that I can paint. And what’s more, I can have plants!! How exciting is that? Real daylight means real plants and I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve also been vlogging all month; anyone following me on twitter knows this already, but I’ll embed the latest vlog here just in case that interests anyone else. They’re more of just video diaries, since most of my days are simply doing schoolwork, but I’m enjoying the process, in any case.

If you guys have any cool DIYs for minimalist apartments (and by that I guess I mean things to paint white?) then send them my way! xo

Podcast Recommendations for October

I’ve always got a ton of podcasts on the go, I listen to them constantly at home (like having a radio on), when walking to work, travelling… they’re pretty much always on. I have a couple that I listen to old episodes of, some that come out reliably certain days of the weeks, others I can’t really count on. But I wanted to share a handful of good ones with you guys. That’s what I really love about the podcasting community, really — a lot of sharing the love.

Anyways, here’s what I recommend right now:

  1. Nocturne
    I’m not totally through all the uploaded episodes but I really like this podcast so far. A very atmospheric project exploring the nighttime and all the things that happen there. Great for listening to when driving at night (as long as you aren’t prone to getting sleepy). Also nice in the library. Check it out here!
  2. Emperors of Rome
    I listen to quite a few history podcasts but this one is really easy to get into. Lots of good stories are told and the episodes are a great length, you don’t have to commit hours at a time so it doesn’t feel like a lecture. I end up listening to a bunch all in a row, but that’s just me… here’s the iTunes link (it’ll open right in iTunes, so watch out!)
  3. Overdue
    One of my favourite book podcasts because it’s so funny. They just finished doing a big Tolkien marathon and it was quite nice to hear someone go through it for the first time — and maybe I was totally ignorant before but I had no idea how much hatred everyone has for Tom Bombadil? I’m still all about it, though. Their Outlander episode and Little House on the Prairie episode were also really excellent. Here’s their website.
  4. One Shot
    If you like tabletop RPG gaming, and don’t take it too seriously, then you’ll love this. Not to say they don’t follow the rules, but this sounds a lot like the games my brother and I have run, and we definitely get a lot of laughs out of it. They run through many different campaigns, my faves have been the most recent 13th Age, Sailor Moon, and Inspectres. I put this one on when my brother was in town and we both agreed that James D’Amato is a great DM. Find their website here.

I’m always looking for more recommendations of what to listen to, so leave me a comment or send a tweet my way (@reblize) to tell me what I should be listening to! Even shows that are brand new, I enjoy getting in there before the crowds… hope you check some of these out. If you want to see the podcasts I recommended last time, click here to read my January podcast picks. xo

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Here in good ol’ Canada it’s thanksgiving weekend, and as is usual I am not travelling home for the ensuing feast. In the past years it’s been because I was living in another province, but this year it’s just because I am far too busy to spend the whole weekend down on the South Shore. My parents were rather cross at first but I think they’ve forgiven me. At least I am going to try and go home next weekend, instead.

I got a big haul of green things from the farmer’s market this morning to make a vegetarian banquet for myself tomorrow — no doubt surrounded by stacks of books and piles of paper, as per usual — and just looking at them makes me rather happy. I got the lot for about $12 which is pretty good, all things considered. When was the last time I paid $2.50 for a cauliflower?! It’s crazy, in St. John’s I was buying them for at least $6 a head. And since they are a most exemplary vegetable, I think I’ll have to buy a couple next time rather than just the one.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 8.27.14 PM

I’m sorry to be missing seeing all my family tomorrow but I’m lucky enough to live nearby to most of them. What are all of you out in the blog world doing this weekend? I suppose only my fellow Canucks are having thanksgiving, but I hope you’re all enjoying a relaxing weekend, wherever you are!