OSSA Latinitatis Sola / The Mere Bones of Latin: Ad Mentem Reginaldi Rationemque / According to the Thought and System of Reginald (英語) ペーパーバック – 2016/9/2
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From the first encounter with the Latin language to its full presentation, the objective of Ossa Latinitatis Sola is to get people into immediate contact with and understanding of genuine Latin authors, and for these encounters to grow into a love and use of the entire language in all its literary types and periods of time and authors of the past 2,300 years. By eliminating terminology and complicated introductions to the language, we emphasize what things mean, not what they are called, how the language functions, not artificial rules, so that people may have immediate access to real solid, natural Latin which they can then imitate and use. Reginald Foster's method of teaching the Latin language is the result of over forty years of helping people in Rome to grow fast and solidly in the knowledge, use and appreciation of Latin by anticipating their questions and preempting their future problems. The complications and obscurities of certain other methods are hereby necessarily avoided. Outsiders will discover that Latin is supremely teachable and loveable and that every fear and terror about the so called insurmountable difficulties of Latin are non-existent and that its destination for only whiz-kids is sheer nonsense. Students will find clear explanations given in narrative form to be grasped and absorbed even in the comfort of a beach chair. Teachers will find the logical reasons why Latin functions as it does and consequently a ready instrument for teaching and a fresh method for communicating with students, supporting everyone in the learning process.
Reginaldus Thomas Foster is an American Catholic priest and friar of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. He formerly worked in the "Latin Letters" section of the Secretariat of State in the Vatican and was the 'Papal Latinist' from 1969-2009. Hecontinues to teach summer classes in Latin at the University of Milwaukee, USA. Daniel Patricius McCarthy, a student of Foster's, is a monk at St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas, USA and teaches Latin in London and Rome.
1) While there are regular reminders of the author's disdain for grammatical charts and tables, every chapter is essentially one lengthy explanation of a particular concept with a few examples thrown in, with much encouragement to essentially sit down and learn the dictionary.
2) It reminds me a bit of Amo, Amas, Amat... and All That: How to Become a Latin Lover. Mount attempted to turn the Latin language and all the various forms and rules into a novel, and this is similar at times.
3) The selections from Latin literature are offered with no notes or commentary, which I find unusual in a book where every grammatical concept is explained in such great detail. You won't find any insight into these texts at all here, even a brief description of the author, work, or context of the selection. If one truly wanted to use these 'sheets' along with the explanations, you'd be well-served by photocopying and enlarging them.
4) The length and weight (831 pages!) will surely prevent all but the most dedicated students or teachers from using this book except as a reference tool.
I am quite certain that Latin would come alive if one were to sit down with Reginaldus and have a conversation about the language, the Romans, and the literature. If I may offer my humble advice, I would therefore much rather see videotaped sessions with Reginaldus offered for purchase to better experience his approach and his love of the language. This book, however, comes across as a rather stale way to interact with Latin.
The explanations of grammar come from a different angle than most textboos, they are interesting but long and chatty.
Hopefully the second volume "Ossa Carnes Multae" "This companion volume is intended to provide from Cicero's letters specific examples that correspond to each of the 105 encounters in the book "Ossa Latinitas Sola" will be more useful for reading Latin.
In the mean time I will read "A First Latin Reader with Exercises" by Nutting and any other longer easy Latin readings (=extensive reading) I can find. Jacobulus
it is a pity this book was so hastily slapped together (the authors admit in the Intro it is basically a transcription of Foster's lectures) since I have heard he is an amazing teacher in the classroom.
This excitement lasted until I received the magnum opus.
I've encountered this before: an author takes it upon himself (usually a "him") to discard the conventions that have supposedly held back students for decades--centuries, even--and rename the verb forms, grammatical terms, etc., with which anyone who has studied a language, be it in school or as an autodidact, is familiar. Reginaldus fell victim to this temptation--and hard--I am very sorry to report.
So, instead of learning about the present, imperfect, future and other tenses, we are told to learn them as "Time 1," "Time 2," "Time 3" and so on. Now, I suppose that, if one has never studied Latin before, "Time 1" and "present tense" might somehow be equally easy to keep straight in one's mind. This was not the case for me. Aside from the irritation of this particular trick (which I've had the misfortune of encountering in a Greek textbook previously), it makes no sense, at least to me, in practice.
Father R. wants to avoid "unnecessary terminology" and achieve "direct contact with the essence and the meaning of things." Which is lovely. But, how does "Time 4b" more effectively convey what anyone who has ever studied any language, including Latin, know as the perfect tense? Or "Block I" more directly convey what everyone else knows as the first and second declensions?
Others have already noted the slapdash, seemingly random selection of readings, which seems to be the result of Father R. emptying his file cabinets onto the floor and picking up items at whim. Maybe "Time 2 subjunctive" (or T.2s, as it is even more cryptically abbreviated) will be as evocative as "imperfect subjunctive" to the novice Latinist, but the book's odd organization, utter absence of paradigms and word charts (which the author explicitly eschews) and other nonstandard and unhelpful quirks make this decidedly NOT the book with which to start one's Latin studies. As another reviewer noted, this may be a great refresher volume if one has already studied with Father R. and understands his system, but it is opaque, clumsy and confusing, not least due to his refusal to use standard grammatical terms. It's interesting to dip in and try a reading or read a short, relatively straightforward section, but I cannot imagine slogging through this volume and its multiple "Encounters" and "Experiences."
It's a shame, really, that what I'm sure is the rich and valuable experience teaching and translating that Father R. possesses could not have been turned into one of the great Latin textbooks. So, as the saying goes, caveat emptor. This doorstop of a textbook is not the vade mecum it could've been, but, instead, a sort of monument to a variety of folly.