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Monday, January 21, 2013

Deponent Verbs and the Eleven Plus

We must be indebted to the late Sir William Smith D.C.L. L.L.D. for his First Latin Course. The edition I have dates back to 1901. This edition has changes from earlier editions. The `reviser’ remarked that it was hoped that changes were made with the sole object of bringing the pupil `past the bitterness of his learning’. (The single inverted commas are in the preface as is the word `reviser’.)

When Sir William introduced us to the `First Conjugation of Deponent Verbs’’ and reminded us that all Perfects and Supines were regular – was he thinking of today’s grammar school pupils learning Latin?

In the Second Conjugation he gave the example: fateor, fassus sum and fateri being `to confess’.

In the Third Conjugation we are offered: fruor, fruitus sum and frui as `to enjoy’.

This helps us to understand what could happen to one of today’s eleven plus children learning Latin at grammar school. He or she may feel some understanding of the words `the bitterness of learning’. There may be a desire to confess that learning Latin can be demanding – but that once mastered Latin is a subject to enjoy.

Your grammar school child may also be able to remind you what a Deponent Verb is – along with a quick revision of the main differences between the First, Second and Third Declensions.

Just think of your standing in the playground chatter when you expound on the nature of deponent verbs and declensions!