Amo, Amas, Amat... and All That : How to Become a Latin Lover Hardback
by Harry Mount
Those endless afternoons where you struggled to remember the third person singular present indicative of volo (vult) may be a long time ago.
But, if you have the vaguest memory of the ablative absolute, the locative and the gerund, you mastery of Latin will spring back to life with Amo, amas, amat...and all that.
In his trip through the world's most influential language, Harry Mount uncorks its magic, drawing on Latin lovers from Kingsley Amis to John Cleese, from Evelyn Waugh to Donna Tart.
Read this book and you will know Latin. Know Latin and - mirabile dictu - you will know Wilfred Owen's misery, Catullus's aching heart and the comedy of a thousand bachelor schoolmasters.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 288 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: Short Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 02/11/2006
- Category: linguistics
- ISBN: 9781904977544
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Review by gaskella
While I love all things ancient and Roman, and can have a go at translating easy bits of Latin, I can’t claim to be able to write it at all. I can hear you exclaiming, “But you have a Latin motto on your blog! ("Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book".) What’s that all about then?” “Simples!” (as Alexandr Meerkat would say – sorry!) – Mottos just sound better in Latin. I did have a go at writing it myself with the aid of a quite scholarly grown-up teach yourself Latin book Learn Latin. In the end though I needed help, and my colleague Dr Ridd from Abingdon School sorted my schoolgirl Latin out.Then my other half gave me this book for Christmas. It combines all the Latin grammar an amateur needs, with added bits about all things Latin and Roman. These include discussions on the famous Monty Python sketch in Life of Brian and Jeeves’ propensity to spout bits of Latin amongst other references. Also included is an etymological list of common Latin expressions in use in English today. All of this is written in a jocular fashion and is thoroughly entertaining. I’m sure a bit more of the language has sunk in. I’ve certainly got a new appreciation for many a Latin phrase, but also much English grammar along the way. I also found out that the author despises the Cambridge Latin course – which was a rather touchy-feely way of teaching Latin introduced into schools in the 1970s (and still going). Of course that’s how I learned my Latin! About a third of the O-Level marks were for earned for spouting about ancient Roman life – which was fab. Unfortunately, you didn’t have to learn conjugations and declensions off by heart as in the trad approach, so while you could always translate the stems - you didn’t always get the sense of the syntax/grammar properly. I still managed to get an ‘A’, but possibly because we had previously translated the ‘unseen’ Pliny passage in the exam for prep the month before, and I really did know my set text Virgil off by heart …If you want to brush up your grammar and learn how to use Latin in everyday English, this book will be really useful in a fun way; as a Latin primer though, it’s far too much fun (but good for revision)!