The Persistent Perks of Speaking Latin
Justin Slocum Bailey
3918

Thank you for this insightful article, Justin! I loved these two quotes: “The way grammar is presented and organized in textbooks and reference works is not the way it seems to be represented in the heads of people who know a language,” and “There is only language one has met enough, in meaningful enough ways, for it to feel normal, and language one has not.” This is very much true of my own experience as a student in your classroom, and I’ve seen it in the experiences of my students as well. They know that the gerundive of “legit” is “legens” and the gerundive of “audit” is “audiens,” not because they’ve memorized a chart, but because, as one student said, “it just sounds right!” This is also true of my own mental representation of Latin — through extensive reading and listening to the language, constructions have embedded themselves in my brain without me even being conscious of them, or knowing what grammarians call them. My students regularly use grammatical constructions we haven’t formally gone over yet — things they don’t even know they know — just because they’ve heard them and made them a part of their mental representation, and those constructions continue to come to the surface as my students think and speak in Latin. Of course, I was convinced of this long ago based on my own experience, but it has been a joy and encouragement to see this prove true in the lives of my students as well. Thank you for continuing to research, practice, and share this with others!

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