How to Learn Latin
Beginner Adult, Already Knows Foreign LanguagesConsider taking a course from a real instructor. I find that this works best to begin learning any language. Wittenberg Academy is an affordable way to do this. Contact Mrs. Jocelyn Benson (email@example.com) for details. An immersion course may be a quick, though more expensive way, to begin. Try https://vivariumnovum.net/en .
Frederic M. Wheelock, Wheelock’s Latin (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), or similar. What is needed is a grammar that has charts of all the forms of the nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, etc. Wheelock is good because it has the answers to the exercises in the back.
A decent online parser and glossary is: http://vicarius.thomasleen.com/
Begin to read the Bible in Latin, start with the Gospels: Alberto Colunga and Laurentio Turrado, eds., Biblia Sacra Iuxta Vulgatam Clementinam: Nova Editio Logicis Partitionibus Aliisque Subsidiis Ornata, 5th ed. (Madrid: La Editorial Catolica, 1977). The Vulgate translation of the Bible can be readily consulted at http://www.drbo.org/lvb/ .
Or try the Neo-Vulgate, which is more faithful to the original Greek and Hebrew: http://www.vatican.va/archive/bible/nova_vulgata/documents/nova-vulgata_index_lt.html .
Here is the Small Catechism in Latin, with helpful notes: Edward Naumann, ed., Martini Lutheri Catechismus Minor: The Small Catechism of Martin Luther in Latin with Notes (no place: no publisher, no date).
Adult Who Knows Some LatinNow it’s time to learn ecclesiastical Latin. Use H. P. V. Nunn, An Introduction to Ecclesiastical Latin (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958). It’s also available electronically through www.Logos.com . This is a great little book, except that it doesn’t have an index. You can find your way using the table of contents, but I definitely recommend making your own index as you read through it.
A reader in church Latin, with grammatical supplements to Wheelock is: Richard Upsher Smith, Jr., Ecclesiastical, Medieval, and Neo-Latin Sentences Designed to Accompany Wheelock’s Latin (Mundelein, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2014). This could be used together with Wheelock’s Latin as a supplement, or could be used as a 2nd-semester reader, to become accustomed to ecclesiastical Latin. All the readings include a glossary for terms not covered in Wheelock.
An alternative to Nunn, recommended by Dr. John Nordling, are these two books: Cora Carroll Scanlon and Charles L. Scanlon, Latin Grammar: Grammar Vocabularies, and Exercises in Preparation for the Reading of the Missal and Breviary, ed. Newton Thompson (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1976); Cora Carrol Scanlon and Charles L. Scanlon, Second Latin: Grammar Vocabularies, and Exercises in Preparation for the Reading of Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1976).
It’s also time to step up to a real dictionary: either L&S (unabridged Lewis & Short) or OLD (Oxford Latin Dictionary). Here’s L&S online for free: http://athirdway.com/glossa/ . As you look up words, don’t be satisfied with the first definition. You have to read through all the definitions, look at the grammar to see which one fits, and then decide how the word is being used!
At this point, consider also learning conversational Latin or Latin composition. John C. Traupman, Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency, 4th ed. (Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2007); Goodwin B. Beach and Ford Lewis Battles, Locutionum cotidianarum glossarium: A guide to Latin conversation, 3rd ed. (Hartford, Conn.: Hartford Seminary Press, 1967); Charles Baker, et al., High School Course in Latin Composition (New York: Macmillan, 1950). Conversational Latin courses are also offered by the Paideia Institute (http://www.paideiainstitute.org/online_classes).
Advanced Latin for Reading and Translating 16th and 17th Century Lutheran TextsReference grammar: B. L. Gildersleeve and G. Lodge, Gildersleeve’s Latin Grammar (Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2003). Don’t try to read through this. Instead, use the index to look up difficult grammatical constructions.
You can start to read a selection of Lutheran Latin in Walter J. Bartling, Patres Latini Lutherani: Latin Readings from the First Two Centuries of Lutheranism (1965).
Other Latin lexica are online at http://www.lexilogos.com/latin_langue_dictionnaires.htm .
Several lexica are searchable at http://linguax.com/lexica/, including the Latin-Latin dictionary by Forcellini, which is often helpful in providing non-classical, neo-Latin meanings of words.
Neo-Latin vocabulary is defined in German in Johannes Ramminger’s Neulateinische Wortliste, http://ramminger.userweb.mwn.de/, and in René Hoven’s Dictionary of Renaissance Latin from prose sources, 2nd ed. (Leiden: Brill, 2006). The two vocabularies overlap somewhat, but each also has many words unique to itself.
For medieval Latin, the basic reference, with entries in German and French as well as in English, is Mediae Latinitatis lexicon minus / Lexique latin médiéval / Medieval Latin Dictionary / Mittellateinisches Wörterbuch, ed. J.F. Niermeyer & C. van de Kieft; second edition revised by J.W.J. Burgers (Leiden: Brill, 2002).
More extensive is Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis, ed. Charles Du Fresne Du Cange; revised edition ed. Léopold Favre, 10 volumes (Niort: Favre, 1883-1887; reprint Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1954), available online (as PDF files) at http://standish.stanford.edu/bin/ckey?2174222 . The 1710 edition is available with more convenient links at http://www.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/camenaref/ducange.html . A very convenient and searchable online edition is: http://ducange.enc.sorbonne.fr/ .
A supplement to Du Cange is Lorenz Diefenbach, Novum glossarium latino-germanicum mediae et infimae aetatis (Frankfurt a.M., 1867; reprint Aalen: Scientia, 1997).
In process is the Mittellateinisches Wörterbuch bis zum ausgehenden 13. Jahrhundert (München: Beck, 1959-) [currently through Evito-]
Early modern Latin-German dictionaries can be helpful in reconstructing Luther’s bilingual world: Peter Dasypodius, Dictionarium Latinogermanicum (Strassburg, 1536; reprint Hildesheim: Olms, 1974, 1995). The more limited 1535 edition is available online (as image files) at http://diglib.hab.de/drucke/n-77-4f-helmst-2/start.htm
For theological vocabulary the following may be helpful, keeping in mind that Luther’s own use and that of his contemporaries and predecessors (not that of his heirs) should be the primary norm for translation: Johann Altenstaig, Vocabularius Theologie (Augsburg: Rynman, 1517), with a digitized microfilm online at http://diglib.hab.de/drucke/b-49-2f-helmst-1/start.htm . The 1619 Cologne edition of Altenstaig, edited by Johannes Tytz under the title Lexicon Theologicum, has been reprinted in a modern facimile (Hildesheim: Olms, 1974). See also Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985).
For geographical terms, especially helpful are:
Orbis Latinus, oder, Verzeichnis der wichtigsten lateinischen Orts- und Ländernamen, ed. J. G. Th. Graesse, second edition ed. Friedrich Benedict (Berlin: Transpress, 1980). The 1909 edition is available online at http://www.columbia.edu/acis/ets/Graesse/contents.html .
Albert Sleumer, Kirchenlateinisches Wörterbuch (Hildesheim: Olms, 2006).
The aforementioned lexicon by Sleumer is also excellent as a glossary for ecclesiastical Latin words.
For Patristic Latin, use Albert Blaise and Henri Chirat, Dictionnaire latin-français des auteurs chrétiens (Strasbourg: Le Latin Chrétien, 1954), as well as the unabridged Lewis & Short.
For philosophical terms, see:
Johannes Micraelius, Lexicon Philosophicum (Jenae: impensis Jeremiae Mamphrasii, 1653), available online at https://books.google.com/books?id=7zE_AAAAcAAJ ;
Rudolphus Goclenius, Lexicon Philosophicum (Francofurti: impensis Petri Musculi & Ruperti Pistorii, 1613), available online at https://books.google.com/books?id=2etMAAAAcAAJ ;
Rudolphus Goclenius, Lexicon Philosophicum Graecum (Marchioburgi: impensis Petri Musculi, 1615), available online at https://books.google.com/books?id=en8KYZh46qAC .
Roy J. Deferrari, M. Inviolata Barry, and Ignatius McGuiness, A Lexicon of St. Thomas Aquinas Based on the Summa Theologica and Selected Passages of his Other Works (Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2004).
For Latin abbreviations, see:
Adriano Cappelli, Dizionario di Abbreviature latine ed italiane, sesta edizione (Milano: Ulrico Hoepli, 1990), searchable and free at https://www.adfontes.uzh.ch/ressourcen/abkuerzungen/cappelli-online; and
“Siglarium Romanum,” in Jacobus Facciolatus, Aegidius Forcellinus, and Jacobus Bailey, eds., Totius Latinitatis Lexicon, vol. 2 (Londini: sumptibus Baldwin et Cradock, 1828), towards the end with independent page numbering, available online at https://books.google.com/books?id=TjlCyVp9ILUC&pg=RA2-PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false .
An extensive annotated bibliography of Latin lexica since the Renaissance is online at http://www.richardwolf.de/latein/index.html .
GreekChristian Latin authors often sprinkle in Greek vocabulary. For that, consult G. W. H. Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1961).
Joh. Scapula, Lexicon Graeco-Latinum Novum (London: Thomas Harper, 1637).
Stephanus, Thesaurus Graecae Linguage:
- Vol 1/1-a https://books.google.com/books?id=w95jvjhnpTIC
- Vol 1/2-ama https://books.google.com/books?id=rt-ZchZsylkC
- Vol 2-b https://books.google.com/books?id=yQR2LAgk2rEC
- Vol 3-e https://books.google.com/books?id=0luLdgdaEk4C
- Vol 4-z https://books.google.com/books?id=D3LyKURAmZ4C
- Vol 5-l https://books.google.com/books?id=iQgynV4SI-QC
- Vol 6-p https://books.google.com/books?id=0fiI3C8VoncC
- Vol 7-s https://books.google.com/books?id=6D1FZ9_kMiUC
- Vol 8-appendix https://books.google.com/books?id=C-suaeP1wVQC