Wheelock's Latin (英語) ペーパーバック – 2000/6
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When Professor Frederic M. Wheelock's Latin first appeared in 1956, the reviews extolled its thoroughness, organization, and conciseness; at least on reviewer predicted that the book "might well become the standard text" for introducing students to elementary Latin.Now, more than four decades later, that prediction has certainly proved accurate.
The sixth edition of Wheelock's Latin has all the features that have made it the bestselling single-volume beginning Latin textbook, many of them revised and expanded:
Also new to the sixth edition are maps of the Mediterranean, Italy, and the Aegean area, as well as numerous photographs illustrating aspoects of classical culture, mythology, and historical and literary figures presented in the chapter readings.
This is a lot of material for one volume. Students weak in English grammar concepts, or attempting their first foreign language, will bear a heavier burden. Several other textbooks of readings and exercises exist which follow Wheelock chapter by chapter, including even a textbook intended as a guide to this textbook. The sheer number of ancillary publications tied to Wheelock's Latin attest to its popularity and to the fundamental impossibility of grounding students in this much Latin grammar using only one 500-page text. There isn't room for enough paradigms, exercises, and readings in one place.
The vocabulary sections are excellent. A gathering of only a few hundred words deftly samples common quirks and idioms while providing high-frequency examples of every sort of verb. The classical excerpts are lively, with Martial and Catullus in particular jumping off the page.
I wish there were 3-4 pages of the most common adverbs, particles and conjunctions, broken down into categories: the common, non-derived ones - denique, istuc, unde, vel and so on - in one place. That objection notwithstanding, I wish this book were less of a grammar and more of a reader. Do every translation exercise (especially the thankfully-included English-to-Latin sentences), and read every selection, and you'll still "know" Latin more in the sense of a list of memorized facts than a language you've read and felt. This book will help you, and anyone hoping to progress will need to know all the material eventually, but the experience of using this book won't be as motivating, or provide as much vital reading mileage, as an anthology of simple stories accompanied by half the grammar content.
Wheelock felt, as most classics teachers do, that classical Latin was the high point of Latin and the whole point of learning it. Even if one accepts this, it's still true that Latin was the core language of the intellectual world for 1500 years - most of which were decidedly non-classical - and was rarely spoken or written, even in the classical period, as Cicero used it. The real Latin excerpts in this text are generally too hard. Those few first-year students able to translate them, lacking background exposure to less exalted writings for contrast, will fail to appreciate the exquisite command of the language shown in these admitted jewels of composition. It's fine to include classical excerpts as candy, but longer, less challenging Medieval or contemporary Latin passages are a better use of student effort.
I still give this book 5 stars for high value in a single book; it's thorough and carefully executed. I have no regrets using it, but I recommend supplementing or following it with a variety of excerpts of all kinds of Latin writing, skewed toward the most simple examples. Readings are a lot more motivating and provide a firmer grounding than a grammatical background alone.
After committed study of this book you won't "know" Latin, but will nonetheless be well equipped to reach that point through further study.
What I like about it is that it gets right to work, not wasting the student's time with a bunch of pictures, introducing yourself activities, or historical blurbs. If you want to be able to read Latin, you've got some tedious lucubrations ahead of you, and I smile when I think of this book, since it makes this clear from the starting gate.
Three things to note:
1. It's true what they say: when students finish working through the 40 chapters herein, students invariably fancy themselves as having a much greater facility in reading Latin than they really do.
2. This book is not ideal for self-study, since even the revision by LaFleur does NOT HAVE ANSWERS TO THE EXERCISES! But thank God for the Internet, on which you can find reliable translations of the Sententiae Antiquae. I largely self-studied this book years ago, and I remember that sticking in my craw not a little. The layout and tone of this book obviously mark it for mature learners, so what's the harm in putting translations in one of the appendices? What's the point of peeping at the answers if you're teaching yourself?
3. It has often been said that Wheelock produces arrogant little 19-year-olds, in the sense that when you're done with it, you're made to feel you know a lot more Latin than you really do. Yeah, I agree. That was tough to take: starting a 2nd year Cicero course thinking you're the bees knees, and slowly realizing that Wheelock & Co. stacked the cards in your favor.
As to how good this book is for learning Latin, I am only 5 chapters in and can therefore not really give an opinion. I can say, so far so good.