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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Latin Versus Long Multiplication

We were chatting about children being encouraged to learn Latin in one of our local schools. I am sure we can all remember our Latin teachers telling us about the two different modes of presenting Latin.
The `old’ or ordinary, traditional pronunciation gives each letter the sound it has in our own language. We say, for example, `pater’ for father and `mater’ for mother.
The new or restored pronunciation suggests that we use the sounds made by the Romans themselves in ancient times.
I can still remember the different emotions around learning the First Declension. Our teacher told us that all the nouns of the First Declension were feminine – except for those that designated males – as in nauta (a sailor). We accepted, without argument, that we needed to learn all about a `table’ in the first lesson - in order to understand and appreciate Latin.
Nom.     Mensa  a table
Voc.       Mensa O table
Acc.        Mensam a table
Gen.      Mensae of a table
Dat.        Mensae to or for a table
Abl.        Mensa by, with or from a table
You will recall that the Nominative Case denotes the subject while the Accusative Case is to do with the object.
Some children today are taught multiplication by the grid or box method. Your children will have been told that this derives from the distributive law. In algebra, for example, we use a(b+c) being equal to ab + ac.
Is the distributive law more terrifying than the First Declension?

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