This morning, Alex’s Latin curriculum presented her with this Winslow Homer picture and instructions to describe it with at least three sentences in Latin. She’s just learned how to say “there is…” and “there are…”, and I think that was the kind of thing she was intended to write here: there is a boat, there are waves, there are clouds, there is water.
She studied the picture for a while and offered, “Navicula navigant.”
“The boat sails?” I asked. “Does the verb navigant agree with navicula?” (It doesn’t. Navigant is the third person plural, so she gave me the equivalent of ‘the boat sail.’)
“They sail the boat,” she corrected me. I wrote it down and frowned at it. It didn’t seem right, and then I realized why.
“‘They sail the boat’ – is ‘boat’ the subject?” She shook her head. “Right, ‘they’ is the subject. So if ‘boat’ isn’t the subject, it shouldn’t be in nominative case. How about if you change the sentence around so it just has a subject? Because otherwise, it calls for a case you haven’t learned yet.”
Halfway through Lively Latin I, although Alex has been required to learn the noun endings for all five cases in Latin, she hasn’t been taught how to use anything but the nominative case. She’s curious, though, and at times in the past she’s asked me questions. Now she burrowed her head into my side. Muffled under my arm came the question: “Accusative?”
“Yes! Good memory. Okay, so, how would you change navicula to be in the accusative case?”
Encouraged, she sat back up. I saw her lips move as she silently chanted the declension until she came to the right ending. “Naviculam. Naviculam navigant.” They sail the boat.
“Fantastic! What else can you say about the picture?”
She studied it some more. “Undae oppugnant.” The waves attack.
“Nice! Very poetic. One more sentence.” Silence. “Alex, remember that action verbs aren’t the only verbs you know. You’ve learned how to say things like ‘there is a bear’ and ‘there are beasts’ and ‘the beasts are bears.’”
“Oh!” Enlightenment. “Nautae sunt virī.” The sailors are men.
I honestly wasn’t expecting language study to go so far, so fast. I have no gift for languages (although I’m better with Latin than the other languages I’ve tried), and Michael is worse off than me. (He fulfilled his high school language requirement by studying Fortran.) Unless I can really get moving with my own self-study, we’re going to have to hire a Latin tutor sooner rather than later.
Right now she’s started to slow down because she’s having to learn English grammar on her way to learning Latin grammar – seriously, this week’s lessons introduced the term “predicate nominative” – but we’re about to start formal study of English grammar next month, and I suspect that Latin lessons will speed right back up again. She’s already asking me to teach her things ahead of the text; in the car on the way to Irish dance she asked me if only nouns have gender and was genuinely delighted to learn how adjectives take on the same gender as the nouns they modify.
She wants to learn ancient Greek.