From EDI to Catullus

It was a passing exchange on a busy corridor. The Head of ICT cornered me and opened with those dreaded words “I know you’re busy but…”  Before I could launch into just how busy I was with organising the day’s exams she asked me about EDI and whether I used it much as Exams Officer. Do I?! It’s the sine qua non of exams organisation these days, I suggested,  and reeled off all the processes. Well, could she bring some of her A Level students up to the Tower and could I give them a run-down on its benefits to an organisation? Quite a happy certe, followed by a “make sure you remind me”. By the time I returned to Tower Control – the memorandum was waiting in my inbox: “3.20pm ICT group in exams office for a party!!!” I couldn’t resist it.  cenabis bene, mi Fabulle  apud me…. I can  quote this verbatim but just so that I wouldn’t have to type it all in, I quickly googled the text and easily found it, of course – with this entry first up. Be sure to play the sound file for the discussion.

(and there are more poems of Catullus here:

I enjoyed it ( pace one or two issues of pronunciation)  as a charming piece to bear in mind for the next time you are teaching this poem.

Anyway, I pasted the text into my email reply to the Head of ICT, translated it, tolerably well, for her and await her response. I can’t wait for 3.20!

Latin by the Dowling Method

Has anyone come across or used the Dowling Method? I think the opening gambit may strike a chord with some of you and/or your students and maybe encourage you to read the whole article which, amongst other things, offers a “recipe for disaster” and a “recipe for success” – and what seems to me a whole lot of angst!

The Problem About Latin

The problem about Latin is that you can study it for six years and still not be able to read a Latin sentence.

If you study French, you get pretty quickly to a point where you process a French sentence in much the same way you process an English one: “J’ai lu tous les livres” comes across to you as “I’ve read all the books” and you don’t think much about it.

In Latin, you can still be looking at a sentence six years later and doing what I call a “crossword puzzle” reading of it. You find a masculine noun in the ablative singular, then you go hunting around the sentence for an adjective to go with the noun, and if you find one you set those two words aside mentally and go back and look at the verbs.

 ……In short, you’re trying to read the sentence somewhat as one assembles a model airplane from a kit: looking at the directions and fitting the parts together and hoping it all makes sense.

The reason this happens is that Latin is a “highly inflected” language and the other modern European languages mostly aren’t.

I’ll explain “highly inflected” below, but what this means for the short term is that French syntax or German syntax or Italian syntax works pretty much the same way as the English syntax you’re used to (subject-verb-predicate, subject-verb-predicate), while Latin doesn’t. So you can study it for six years without really learning how to “sweep up” a sentence the way you’re reading this sentence right now.

Read the whole article here

This is the blue whale of our time

From Charles Clover in the Independent:  

(Sorry, but you will still not get me to touch the stuff……………!)

The Atlantic bluefin tuna is a dark, steel-blue teardrop of a fish which migrates across whole oceans and can swim at speeds of up to 45mph. Its acceleration, as it locks on to a ball of bait-fish, has been likened to a supercar.

The bluefin can turn on this electric display because it is one of the most highly developed fish, and warms its blood through a heat-exchanger so more energy can be released on a whim.

This top-level predator’s only problem is that its flesh is one of the most delicious things on earth, eaten raw as sushi or sashimi. It is only marginally less delicious the Mediterranean way, seared with a dressing of oil and vinegar.

Bluefin flesh was eaten by Roman legionaries before battle. Its entrails, treated with herbs, were a delicacy known as garum, pots of which have been found throughout the former Roman Empire and as far north as the garrison town of York.

More here: